Gregg Bell on Seahawks' win over Chiefs, Rees Odhiambo's reassuring night and more
Russell Wilson says he’s ready for the regular season to begin right now. More important, he looks it, too.
Finally, his offensive line did as well.
“Yeah, for sure. I think our whole football team is. We’re ready to roll, in regular-season mode,” Wilson said Friday night.
“The energy that we are playing with, the execution, it looks really good.”
That was after he completed 13 of 19 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown, 2-yard flip to fullback Tre Madden in the second quarter. His line kept him from hitting the ground until into the third quarter.
Get this: Rees Odhiambo not only was serviceable but played well in his first start at left tackle in the wake of George Fant’s season-ending knee injury last week that threatened to ruin the entire offense.
Yes, the Seahawks will absolutely take what they got from Wilson, Odhiambo and the starting offense that built a 19-10 lead on the Kansas City Chiefs in Seattle’s 26-13 victory in Friday night’s third preseason game at CenturyLink Field.
There were smiles from Odhiambo and coach Pete Carroll, laughs around the locker room and a sense of almost relief that Odhimabo and the line held up after a week of fretting whether it would. The fact the Chiefs’ swarming defense was preseason-bland without many of the tricks they’d use in a real game did not matter given how the Seahawks could have felt about this.
“I thought (Odhiambo) did pretty well,” coach Pete Carroll said after Seattle’s third win in as many exhibition games. “He had one bad pass set when Russ got hit and he made a mistake on. Other than that, he did a pretty good job.
“I thought he was very solid.”
Wilson said of Odhiambo, “I thought he did a great job tonight.”
Best of all for Seattle: No new injuries.
Michael Bennett continued his protest of how minorities are treated in our country by sitting during the national anthem for the third consecutive game. For the second straight week, teammate Justin Britt stood at the Pro Bowl defensive end’s left side with his right hand on Bennett’s left shoulder in support.
Playing roughly four combined quarters through three preseason games mostly against starting defenses, Wilson has completed 29 of 41 passes (71 percent) for 447 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions. That equals a passer rating of 130.8.
That’ll do when the games get real, Sept. 10 at Green Bay.
Madden, a versatile back who is an intriguing roster candidate, made a nifty catch at his knees while twisting and on the run of Wilson’s pass that was deflected by a Chiefs’ lineman on bootleg play.
Wilson’s best pass came late in the second quarter, an exquisite dart onto the hands of covered tight end Jimmy Graham in stride and just past the fingertips of the Chiefs defender down the right hash mark. That 30-yard gain set up Blair Walsh’s third field goal of the opening half, and a 16-10 lead for Seattle at halftime.
“I thought he did a great job,” Wilson said. “That ball, that was a tough catch.”
Graham had two catches on four targets for 34 yards one week after missing an exhibition with back spasms.
Odhiambo not only didn’t get Wilson hurt -- or worse -- as many of you feared in his start at left tackle forced by George Fant’s season-ending knee injury last week. Odhiambo, last year’s third-round pick who has struggled for most of his two preseasons and last regular season as a backup, blocked well. He consistently pushed Kansas City’s edge rushers, primarily end Chris Jones and linebacker Dee Ford, well outside and past Wilson out of the play. He stood his ground on quick throws, and at times got to second-level defenders on run blocks.
He and the line allowed no sacks and one pressure on 16 drop backs by Wilson in the first half, though Wilson took off scrambling twice.
“I felt pretty good,” Odhiambo said.
He said he thought it must have gone OK, because no one was barking at him and fellow blockers.
“You know, as an O-line, when you don’t get that much of feedback it’s kind of a good thing,” he said, with a grin. “So we were doing a pretty good job.”
Odhiambo’s only noticeably poor play came on the first drive after halftime, which was the starters’ final series. He wasn’t quick enough off the snap for Jones’ inside move and punch past him for a seven-yard sack of Wilson. Seattle had used a hurry-up offense to work on it that drive, and moved into range for Blair Walsh’s fourth field goal on the night on completions by Wilson to Jermaine Kearse for 15 yards on third down and 25 yards on the next play to Doug Baldwin.
Walsh is the former Vikings’ failed kicker Seattle signed in the offseason to replace Steven Hauschka and get four years younger and $2 million cheaper there. He is eight for nine on field goals this preseason. He had a miss in the first half waved off by a Chiefs penalty for lining up over snapper Tyler Ott. Walsh has made all 10 of his extra points through three exhibitions.
Matt Tobin, who arrived Tuesday in a trade with Philadelphia for a fifth-round pick, replaced Odhiambo when Trevone Boykin and the second-team offense entered with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
Carroll noted Tobin did well, too.
The Seahawks are going to use the upcoming, short week of practice and Thursday’s preseason finale at Oakland to determine if Odhiambo is the left tackle, if not then whether Tobin can do it, or whether they need to move left guard Luke Joeckel to there. Joeckel played his first three NFL seasons as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ starting left tackle but has been at left guard all month for Seattle. The Seahawks believe he is a better left guard and prefer to keep him there to keep what continuity remains on the changing line.
With Thomas Rawls (ankle) and C.J. Prosise (groin) out and in sweats, Eddie Lacy started at running back. He had four carries for 21 yards, leaving him with 14 carries for 51 yards this preseason. That’s not what Seattle had in mind when it signed him to a one-year, prove-it deal to mash this season.
Yet the NFL rookie of the year in 2013 looked like he was in his Green Bay Packers, 1,100-yard prime on one, 4-yard run in the second quarter. He and his 250 pounds bulled through two Chiefs to the 3-yard line. But a penalty on Joeckel for holding negated that gain.
Wilson threw his touchdown pass to Madden three plays later to put the Seahawks ahead 13-3.
The Seahawks’ starting defense began the game the same way it began the previous two exhibitions: less than dominant and in fact yielding. Kansas City and quarterback Alex Smith used their running game on an 14-march drive to a field goal to begin the game. Seahawks All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner extended the drive by hitting Smith late for a roughing penalty two steps after Smith had thrown incomplete on fourth and 4 at the Seattle 32.
In three preseason games, the Seahawks’ renowned defense has allowed opening scoring drives of 13, 11 and Friday’s 14 plays. Seattle has allowed its foes to convert five of eight third downs on opening drives.
Carroll said the defense needs to tighten its fundamentals, such as tackling.
Pro Bowl defensive end Cliff Avril, who stopped a Chiefs drive by hit Smith’s arm on third down while he tried to throw, agreed with this coach.
“I don’t think we’re where we need to be,” Avril said, “to go where we want to go.”
The defense, with Jeremy Lane starting over rookie Shaquill Griffin at right cornerback in base defense, allowed only 39 yards over the Chiefs’ other 17 plays in the first half. Kansas City lost starting running back Spencer Ware in the first quarter with to a knee injury, and its only other points of the half came on De’Anthony Thomas’ 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter. That cut Seattle’s lead to 13-10.
That kick was one of the few this preseason Walsh didn’t drill into the end zone for a touchback. Kearse and second-year tight end Nick Vannett missed tackles at the start of Thomas’ sprint, and he was gone untouched after that.
Rookie running back Chris Carson continued his standout month with decisive runs that are putting 2016 draft pick Alex Collins in further jeopardy of not making the team. Carson, the seventh-round pick from Oklahoma State about whom Carroll has been gushing since the draft in May, ran eight times for 46 yards. He doesn’t waste time or space moving in any direction but forward. He had a 15-yard run behind a fine block by Aboushi on a Chiefs linebacker.
Collins did not get a carry. He played on the punt team a couple of snaps, all but forgotten at this point.
Even J.D. McKissic seemed to move past Collins in the running game. The part time kick returner and wide receiver acquired on waivers from Atlanta last season ran four times for 22 yards on the first drive led by third quarterback Austin Davis in the fourth quarter. That drive ended with Davis’ 28-yard pass that Tanner McEvoy, the undrafted surprise wide receiver of 2016, leaped over a defender to grab for a touchdown and a 26-13 lead for Seattle with 6:46 remaining.
Carroll talked Thursday how much he likes McKissic, for all he can do.
Trevone Boykin regressed to his off-target form of the offseason and early training camp this month. Wilson’s second-year backup was 0 for 6 with an interception trying to throw to Kasen Williams.
Davis replaced Boykin with 12 minutes remaining. The one-time St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns starter completed his first five passes.