This rebranding thing must be contagious.
On Thursday, the Seattle Seahawks announced that their new home would heretofore be known as Lumen Field, though the GPS will not change – good news for tailgaters, at least once tailgating can be a thing again.
Also announced Thursday: Until further notice, Russell Wilson will not just cook, but will have to mix in a salad.
It seems that back in September that grand old company CenturyLink became something even more inscrutable – Lumen Technologies – in one of those corporate sleights-of-hand that goes unnoticed by those who turn first to the sports page or have given up their landlines.
Apparently, so many vice presidents had to be given new titles that not until Thursday did they get around to the stadium, which had borne the CenturyLink name since 2011. Before that, of course, it was Qwest Field, and before that Seahawks Stadium and before that the voters’ gift to Paul Allen.
Russian bot Twitter accounts don’t change names so often.
But now, Lumen Field.
Also this week, Pete Carroll set about rebranding the Seahawks, as was evident in their 28-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals – as important a win as Seattle has managed this season, never mind all the early great escapes.
It puts the Seahawks alone atop the NFC West again, at least for a few days, but with a run through the bottom part of their scheduled batting order ahead, it gives them at least a smidgen of a cushion – though with the way bodies keep falling, just getting a full team to the stadium might be the best Seattle can manage for a while.
Hey, things looked more dire a week ago.
Back then, Wilson was in the throes of something of a meltdown, the Seahawks having lost three of four games with their quarterback committing 10 turnovers in the process. Beyond the turnovers, there was a certain malaise to Wilson’s game – missing receivers, preoccupied with the pass rush, pressing – that was downright alarming.
Also understandable. The Seahawks were trawling for running backs on Craigslist, the offensive line was slumping and the defense was giving away acreage like the base look was another Homestead Act. No wonder he felt like he had to be perfect – or better.
Carroll, who had seemingly endorsed the early season rebranding to unleash Wilson, had obviously seen enough.
“I’d like to get back to the kind of balanced approach we’ve always had,” he said.
Yeah, looks like those “Let Russ Cook” T-shirts can go into the Goodwill bin.
Not that things looked so different from the jump. The Seahawks’ first drive started with a sack – poor Damien Lewis had a fitful night, the promising rookie guard having been shifted to center for the first time in his career because of injuries to No. 1 (Ethan Pocic) and No. 2 (Kyle Fuller). Then came a couple of passes to get back from behind the sticks.
And then Carlos Hyde got 5 yards on a sweep.
This was the first game in weeks that the Seahawks had either Hyde or lead back Chris Carson available, and the look was as different as when the team slips into the neon green jerseys.
“It felt like the Seahawks, the Seahawks we’ve all seen over the years,” Carroll said. “Carlos did a great job. It was exactly what we needed. We need him to run hard and tough and make those yards with his juice.”
By game’s end, Hyde had 79 yards on 14 carries – a meaty 5.6 average per carry.
Every bit as significant, the Seahawks had 31 rushing plays to a reasonable 28 passes – and though 10 of the runs were Wilson scrambles and improvisations, the idea of balance was at least being entertained. Why, the Seahawks even called a few runs on third down – Hyde gashing for 17 yards once to set up Seattle’s second touchdown.
This gave Wilson at least some relief from the constant blitzing he’s seen, and he was back in sync with Tyler Lockett (nine receptions) and DK Metcalf, who had just three catches but scored a touchdown and was far more of a factor than in his first showdown with Arizona’s Patrick Peterson.
The defense? Well, don’t call it rebranded yet.
But it did open the game with a pair of Arizona three-and-outs, and dialed up the pressure in the game-turning sequence when Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was pressured into a grounding call and LJ Collier got held in the end zone for a safety.
When Murray had them driving for the tying touchdown late, the defense came up with three incompletions and Carlos Dunlap’s “walk-off sack,” as Carroll called it.
“Really important for us,” Carroll said. “But we’ll see – we’ve got to keep going. It feels like we’re just getting started. There’s no reason we can’t come together and play really good (defensive) football – we just have to get comfortable with everybody that’s out there.”
Obviously, Wilson doesn’t need a timetable so gradual. From one of his worst games in last Sunday’s loss to the Rams, he put together one of his – not best, but most efficient.
“He made good, quick, decisive decisions,” Carroll said. “His scrambles were effective. His movement was great.”
Best of all, he “didn’t have to throw for 400 yards. He had a big night throwing for just under 200,” Carroll noted.
And even better?
The Seahawks are undefeated at Lumen Field. How’s that for a brand?
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