When the Seattle Seahawks made a desperately needed move ahead of the trade deadline to acquire disgruntled Bengals pass rusher Carlos Dunlap, the hope wasn’t only that he himself would bring sacks, but also help to unlock the rest of the defensive line.
Through three games, Dunlap has done exactly that. Since Dunlap’s debut against the Bills, the Seahawks have totaled 13 sacks and 21 QB hits, with Dunlap chipping in with three sacks and six QB hits himself. When he isn’t getting to the quarterback, he is changing the math upfront and helping to put his linemates in advantageous positions. No single player has exemplified this more than Jarran Reed, who has been superb since Dunlap arrived.
However, that doesn’t mean he can’t act like a one-man wrecking crew, either. With the ever-elusive Kyler Murray proving to be just that on Thursday Night Football, Dunlap did everything he could to disrupt the sophomore phenom. By the end of the game, Dunlap had totaled five pressures, three QB hits, two tackles for loss, and two sacks—including one in the dying moments to clinch a Seattle victory.
.@Carlos_Dunlap SACK ON KYLER MURRAY TO END THE GAME!!!#AZvsSEA: https://t.co/2cxHPcAjwx pic.twitter.com/QKGyn24UJz— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) November 20, 2020
Dunlap’s excellent play to begin his time with the Seahawks has helped to spring great performances out of Reed and Poona Ford, among others, but his transformative impact goes beyond the defensive line. With Dunlap and the defensive line starting to create pressure on a more regular basis, Seattle will be able to blitz less frequently and go back to what they do best, playing cover-3 and rushing four.
Of Seattle's three sacks:— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) November 20, 2020
1.) Standard four-man rush (Collier)
2.) Five-man rush with Dunlap briefly dropping back to spy before wrapping Murray up.
3.) Three-man rush and Dunlap beats his man 1-on-1.
The Seahawks have now strung together six quarters of strong defensive play, going back to the second half of a tough loss against the Rams. With Dunlap becoming more comfortable and effective in his new surroundings, and multiple players still to get healthy, there’s no reason to believe the steady play will be short-lived.
Dunlap has been with Seattle for less than a month and his transformative impact has already been felt across his team’s defense; that’s great news for a Seahawks team with a high-powered offense and bad news for the rest of the NFL.