Sours Grapes Treatment
Carlos Dunlap was arrested Tuesday morning for driving under the Artest. He is a potential top ten pick with the size, scouting profile and upside of a great defensive end. What Dunlap lacks is elite production. Dunlap has 17.5 sacks and 24 tackles for a loss in two seasons starting. Good but not elite production, further downgraded by the Gators dominance. Florida is 25-1 over the past two seasons, and Dunlap plays most snaps ears-pinned-back, protecting a big lead. He had a sack against Florida State and Troy, two teams that rank 48 and 53 nationally in sacks allowed. He had three sacks against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have allowed 1.67 sacks per game, which sounds mediocre at first, but bad when you consider they average 22 pass attempts a game. Mississippi State allows a sack on 7.5% of pass attempts.
Fire Timmay Treatment
Dunlap might bulk up a bit and transition to 3-4 end in the pros. He is listed at 6'6", 290. Dunlap has a good mix of stoutness and playmaking ability against the run, and the height, frame and athleticism required to push the pile, set the edge and keep blockers at bay. Seattle has four linebackers contesting for three spots, and another linebacker, Will Herring, that deserves snaps. Brandon Mebane has proven capable of commanding double teams. His first two seasons, he was bulked up and immovable, yet still agile enough to disrupt. If Seattle re-signed Cory Redding and encouraged Lawrence Jackson to grow into his frame, the pieces are in place to build a 3-4.
That, like drafting Dunlap, only happens if Ruskell is not re-signed. Some teams struggle with the transition to a 3-4, but others, like Green Bay and Denver, have thrived. The key is having the right personnel.
Mebane could be the starting nose tackle. He would rotate with Colin Cole and Red Bryant. Jackson and Redding could play end, with Bryant and Vance Walker in the mix. Nick Reed and Darryl Tapp would be situational pass rushers, and both might benefit from moving off the line. David Hawthorne and Lofa Tatupu would play inside, and Leroy Hill and Aaron Curry on the outside, or Curry inside and Hawthorne outside. The roles could be dynamic. Seattle could move Curry inside on passing downs and sub in Tapp at rush linebacker.
The Seahawks need to improve their pass rush. The team has many good pass rushers, but only two that can consistently work off the line: Patrick Kerney and Tapp. It wants to create pressure without committing additional pass rushers. All teams do. One solution is to add an elite pass rushing lineman. Another is to switch the scheme. Tapp might not benefit as much as Elvis Dumervil, but the two share size and skill sets, and Dumervil has changed from pass rushing specialist, but liability against the run, to pass rush demon--damn the run. Tapp has bulked up to better defend the run. It's worked, but at what cost? He has never looked slower or less disruptive off the edge. Reed is playing his way out of the league. Tackles spring out of their stance and chuck him like so much seventh-round garbage.
This is all food for thought. Seattle doesn't need to draft Dunlap to transition to a 3-4, but his recent arrest is an opportunity to discuss alternative paths for Seattle's young defense. Tim Ruskell does not deserve to be fired, but the move still might be in the best interest of the Seahawks. He has made some shrewd moves in his time and added talent, but like Mike Holmgren, his execution might be masking a flawed plan. Holmgren disliked trick plays, was adverse to the shotgun, and taught a twenty-year old version of the West Coast. It worked when it was perfect, crafted by the master himself, but was resource intense and fragile. I assume Ruskell is building something like to a Tampa 2. He has concerted resources into linebackers and pass rushers. Gus Bradley taught a Tampa 2 in college and broke into the NFL under Monte Kiffin.
But when was the last time a Tampa 2 defense dominated? And can a Tampa 2 succeed without a Simeon Rice, Jared Allen or Dwight Freeney? The two great Tampa 2 teams of the past are both below average defensively this season: Chicago and Tampa. I do not believe a 3-4 is intrinsically better than a 4-3, but, perhaps by accident, Ruskell has assembled a roster that fits a 3-4 in some ways better than it fits a 4-3. In the past, Seattle's best players, like Kerney and Tatupu, were 4-3 players playing in a 4-3 scheme. It could maybe make a 3-4, but was not going to. We're in flux. Ruskell has not been fired, nor re-signed. Suddenly, anything is possible. Even Seattle drafting Carlos Dunlap.