The second-year player is trying to prove he can be the starting left tackle for the Seahawks. In his first preseason start at the position, his coach labeled his effort as “very solid.”
Rees Odhiambo was conspicuous for being inconspicuous on Friday. He succeeded by not failing. In the universe of possibilities for a raw left tackle thrown into the fire, virtually by process of elimination, well, quiet competence is a perfectly acceptable answer.
Perhaps that’s damning with faint praise, and Odhiambo’s night was not without its triumphs (and one glaring mistake). But the best news of all for the Seahawks, in their first game since George Fant went down for the season with a gruesome knee injury, is that their offense percolated along with no glaring malfunctions.
Russell Wilson was able to continue a preseason of brilliance in Seattle’s 26-13 victory over Kansas City at CenturyLink Field, completing 13 of 19 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown, with a passer rating of 120.5 and, most important, no first-half sacks (and just one quarterback hit). The Seahawks rushed for a respectable 64 yards in the first half, when the first-unit offense played for its entirety, with Eddie Lacey and Chris Carson averaging more than 5 yards per carry.
In other words, in the exhibition game most reminiscent of the real thing (at least for a half and change), Odhiambo did no harm, and that was a victory unto itself. For those who were wondering if the Seahawks’ offensive line would be in disarray — and let’s face it, there are those who have that question on mental speed dial — the whole night was quite reassuring.
Was it enough to declare Odhiambo the definitive starter at left tackle, which would save the Seahawks from all manner of adjustments and machinations along the line that they are desperately hoping to avoid?
Pete Carroll didn’t make that declaration in the aftermath of the game, but all his impressions were positive. The phrase he used for Odhiambo’s night was “very solid,” a characterization Carroll said that he was “dying to see the film” to verify. It’s hard to imagine that the coach would see anything that would dissuade him from proceeding with the plan to have Odhiambo, a second-year player from Boise State with scant NFL experience, go into the season as the starting left tackle.
“He’s trying to meet the call here,’’ Carroll said. “We have a real opportunity right now for someone to step in. We were with Rees a lot this week making sure he’s ready for this and doing it right and handling it properly. His mind was very clear, and he played very clear in the game, and he was not bothered by the pressure or the stress that could bring. I was real proud of him for that.”
Odhiambo’s one discordant note came in the third quarter when the Chiefs’ Chris Jones beat him for a sack of Wilson. But other than that, he did a good job containing Kansas City’s edge rush, opened up some nice holes for the running backs and otherwise helped keep Wilson upright. The quarterback called him “tough-minded” and said, “He did a great job tonight.”
Asked what kind of feedback he received during the game, Obhiambo said, “As an offensive line, when you don’t get much feedback, it’s kind of a good thing.”
It’s like an umpire or official — when you don’t notice them, the night’s been successful. Odhiambo was trying to keep in mind the advice Carroll had given him earlier in the week, when he advised him to “cut loose and let it go” on the field rather than playing tentatively.
“I felt I did a lot of that,’’ he said.
Center Justin Britt was displeased with the number of penalties assessed against the line, but felt overall it was a successful integration of Odhiambo into the first unit.
“He stepped in, I trusted him, and I know Luke (Joekel, the left guard) trusted him, and obviously the coaches did,’’ Britt said. “He did great all week, and he did good tonight. The whole line did. Of course, there’s things you need to clean up and get rid of penalties and some mental errors we have across the board. I’m excited. We have a really good group. Russ was able to stand back there and toss the ball around.”
Distrust of the Seahawks’ offensive line has become a constant, and one decent game in the preseason isn’t going to change that. This unit will continue to be the primary bellwether of the Seahawks’ success, and skepticism will no doubt reign. Yet the first feedback of the line’s new configuration in the post-Fant world was a highly encouraging absence of mayhem.
“It helps, but the confidence kind of has to be there before you go out there,’’ Odhiambo said. “All it does is help build on top of that, and make me feel a little more comfortable in terms of knowing what my job is. It’s kind of like it’s your job to get things done when you’re called up.”
And that’s what Odhiambo did. If you didn’t notice, well, that’s the point.