As the Seahawks prepare for their Sunday night collision with Philadelphia, they might not want to dwell on the extent the Eagles’ defense dominated Chicago last week.
The Bears are as flawed as any team this side of Cleveland, but they brought the league’s No. 5 rushing offense into Lincoln Financial Field. They left with 6 yards on the ground.
If it weren’t for Mitch Trubisky’s 11-yard quarterback scramble late in the fourth quarter, the Bears would have broken the franchise record for lowest rushing output in a game –1 yard – set in 1952.
“One of the best defenses I’ve ever played,” said Kyle Long, a fifth-year guard and three-time Pro Bowl selection for the Bears, after the 31-3 thumping that found the Bears unable to move the first-down chains once before halftime.
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Given Seattle’s own struggle to develop a any kind of rushing attack that doesn’t depend on the legs of quarterback Russell Wilson, it seems safe to assume the Hawks will be as flummoxed on the ground as the Bears were.
But count Seahawks offensive tackle Matt Tobin among those who are not intimidated.
“I still feel like we can run the ball on them,” Tobin said Wednesday. Although a backup whose participation usually is on special teams and as an extra blocker in the jumbo package, Tobin nevertheless qualifies as an insider.
During the four seasons between 2013 and 2016, Tobin, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Iowa, started 21 games for the Eagles. When he was traded to Seattle on Aug. 22, he told his former teammates: “See you in December.”
That was three months ago, before the Eagles morphed from a 7-9, fourth-place team in the NFC East into a 10-1 juggernaut.
“I could see it coming. Offensively, they’ve gotten much better. They’re playing much more confidently. And Carson is playing much better,” Tobin said, referring to second-year quarterback Carson Wentz.
“He’s way more confident in the pocket and he’s got a good feel for getting out of the pocket if he needs to. He’s a Houdini type in that way, kind of like Russell is for us a little bit.”
A year ago, Tobin was on the losing side of the Seahawks’ 26-15 victory over the Eagles in Seattle.
Memories? He has a few.
“I remember our offense couldn’t do anything,” he said. “And our defense allowed a lot of big runs.”
The Hawks ran for 152 yards, half of which came on C.J. Prosise’s 72-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Thomas Rawls added 57 yards on 14 carries.
Prosise has spent the brunt of 2017 nursing a bum ankle, and Rawls’ once-promising Seattle career appears destined to be resumed elsewhere. Chris Carson, who earned the job of primary running back during the preseason, is recovering from an ankle injury that has sidelined him for two months.
In other words, there’s not an abundance of backfield weapons for the Seahawks to test the NFL’s top-ranked rushing defense.
What the Hawks will have is a crowd jacked up for the 5:30 kickoff on national TV. Tobin got to know all about jacked-up crowds in Philadelphia.
“They’re hard-core fans who love football,” he said. “But if you don’t do good things, they’re not the nicest.
“The 12’s are a little more rowdy. Well, maybe not more rowdy, but it’s like this: You see a lot of fights in the stands in Philly – that happens all the time – whereas here they’re really cheering for the team they care about. They know they can be part of the game and affect it. It doesn’t get near as loud there as it does here.”
Tobin left the Eagles on good terms, having developed close friendships with such fellow offensive linemen as Lane Johnson, Jason Peters and Jason Kelce.
“I’m going to be playing against a whole bunch of my buddies,” he said. “I’ve faced most of those guys as recently as camp and OTA’s. I know a lot about them. It will be pretty cool to go against them.”
It will be even cooler for Tobin if the Seahawks run as effectively as he believes they can.