RENTON Admit it, you -- and I, probably many Seahawks themselves -- have asked and are still asking this question: So who in the name of Walter Jones is Matt Tobin?
That is, who was he before Tobin suddenly became the newest candidate to be the Seahawks’ starting left tackle -- yes, actually out of the clear, blue sky -- in the wake of George Fant’s season-ending knee injury.
The Philadelphia Eagles signed Tobin in 2013 as an undrafted rookie free agent to be a potential swing man on their offensive line, a backup guard and tackle. He impressed early that preseason, earning a surprise spot on Philadelphia’s roster. The following season he started seven games, at guard. In 2015, he started 13 games, all at guard.
“When I was at Philly I played mostly tackle (in practices),” Tobin said upon his arrival Tuesday by cross-country jet from Pennsylvania and a trade for Seattle’s fifth-round draft choice in 2018, “but all my starts in the games were at guard. So I’m pretty comfortable playing tackle and I’m pretty comfortable playing guard. It’s just wherever I practice at is where I get the best at.”
Tobin, who turned 27 in June, is used to scrapping and doing whatever coaches ask. He walked on at Iowa, his home-state university. He eventually earned a starting job with Kirk Ferentz’s Hawkeyes. The former walk-on made 22 consecutive starts to end his college career, 18 at guard and the last four at tackle.
“I’ve studied him quite a bit. You know, his background coming out of Iowa with Kirk Ferentz and Brian Ferentz, his line coach. There’s some really good stuff there,” Seahawks line coach Tom Cable said. “A kid who walked on and earned it, has earned everything, so you know he’s got work ethic. You know, he’s probably pretty tough, very smart, reliable, all the that things we look for.
“What has he done on film? He’s been consistent, he’s been in the league awhile. When he’s been asked and called on to go play, he’s done a nice job.”
In person, the 6-foot-6, 303-pound Tobin looks as expansive as an Iowa farming field. The most famous one of those in his hometown of Dyersville, Iowa, (population 4,000 west of Dubuque and the Mississippi River) is the century-old Lansing family farm. That farm was the set for the 1989 motion picture “Field of Dreams.”
Now, Tobin is running around blocking Seahawks in his new jersey number 62 on his own field of dreams. He’s gone from a third tackle in Philadelphia wondering if he may or may not make the Eagles at the end of the month to a candidate to start for Seahawks team with Super Bowl aspirations and five consecutive playoff appearances.
Is this a great country, or what?
Cable said Tobin is going directly into the fray, playing left tackle behind Rees Odhiambo Friday night when Seattle hosts Kansas City in the third preseason game. The final exhibition comes six days after that, Aug. 31 at Oakland, and then the games get real.
And this competition Tobin has suddenly, unexpectedly entered will need a winner.
Tobin smiled at the crash-course task ahead. Heck, he didn’t meet Cable or head coach Pete Carroll until he was on the field and practice had already started on Tuesday.
“It’s a good task. It’s tough, but it’s exciting,” he said. “It is a good opportunity...
“I have never had anything come easy. I mean, I walked on at Iowa. I was the backup and grinding, just trying to get bigger and stronger for three years and had an opportunity to start. And then I was a free agent with the Eagles and made the team and just tried to get better and built the trust up with those coaches.
“Now I’m out here and gonna try and do the same thing.”