As much as any team, the New Orleans Saints know what it's like to play an NFL game without a starting, Hall-of-Fame bound quarterback due to an injury.
The Saints, 3-2 entering their Monday night game against the Seahawks (2-4) at Lumen Field in Seattle, had to do exactly that for five games in 2019, and then another four in 2020, without Drew Brees.
The Saints went 8-1 in those games – the first of which, in '19, was a road victory over the Seahawks. So even though they're facing a Seattle team that will be minus quarterback Russell Wilson for the second consecutive game – a team that has lost two straight and three of its last four games – there will be no discounting what the Seahawks can do with backup quarterback Geno Smith.
Smith has completed 33 of 49 passes for 340 and two touchdowns, with an interception. In his start against Pittsburgh, he completed 23 of 32 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. He was sacked five times and lost a fumble.
The eight-year veteran is in his second season with Seattle, largely because he's considered a suitable replica if Wilson is sidelined. Saints linebacker Demario Davis is more familiar with Smith than most, and with what the Seahawks are capable of with him.
"First of all, it's a well-coached team," Davis said. "And any time you have a well-coached team, you're going to be all right regardless of who's playing and who's not playing. We've seen that here with our team.
"Secondly, I played with Geno. I was there when the Jets drafted Geno (in 2013). Felt like he was a first-round guy that fell to us in the second round. He's going into his eighth year, that speaks for itself. Very talented guy, doing a good job of running their offense. I know he plays with a chip on his shoulder so he's going to bring anything and everything.
"No disrespect to Russell, but they're not taking a major drop-off or anything like that going to Geno. In a lot of ways he's a different type of quarterback, so we have to be prepared for him."
Smith hasn't started consecutive NFL games since the final two games of his second season, in 2014, a loss to New England and a victory over Miami in which he completed 20 of 25 passes for 358 yards and three touchdowns.
Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said that, against Pittsburgh, there wasn't a significant offensive variation from what the Seahawks normally would do.
"I don't think so," Allen said. "They're very similar schematically in terms of the things they do. Obviously, when you lose a player of Russell Wilson's caliber that's a tough blow to overcome.
"Schematically against Pittsburgh, I didn't see this vast change of philosophy in terms of what they want to do. Certainly, it was good to see how they operated with Geno Smith at quarterback and get a feel of that from an entire game plan standpoint.
"I think the core philosophy of what they want to do hasn't changed. There's a lot of the skill set, and I think that's what they thought about when acquiring Geno, he has a similar skill set to what Russell Wilson does."
Wilson's mobility has been a facet that requires an accounting. If Smith's mobility is similar, it means extended plays on offense, perhaps longer coverage in the secondary, and disciplined pass rushers.
"They're explosive," safety Marcus Williams said. "They try to get the ball downfield with 14 (D.K. Metcalf) and 16 (Tyler Lockett) and that's where they try to make their money out there, scrambling and things like that. So you've just got to lock on when they're scrambling and make sure we don't let them get the ball out.
"Just stick to my keys and watch the quarterback. If I know what's coming it'll be easier for me, but when they're scrambling just got to continue to stay deep and let nothing get behind me so we don't let those explosives go."