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Carlos Dunlap the closer; Carlos Dunlap the drunken master

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

What does this look like to you?

Imminent doom? It felt like imminent doom. It’s irrational, making a pattern of one, but I’m human and nothing irrational is foreign to me.

The above, that’s a win. I guess the team’s respective records, which I didn’t alter in GIMP, gives that away. This is the horrific week 7 loss.

Excuse me if I don’t understand how Kyler Murray spiking the ball in a 34-31 game with 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter indicates a 99.9% Seahawks win probability.

Anyway, I feared we were gonna lose. That is a prolix way of saying that. Then!

For most of the season Seattle felt like a technician lacking a knockout punch with a questionable jaw. It tended to win. Attacked mercilessly by a good offense, it folded fast. Up in points, it lacked the kind of pass defense to put its opponent away. The knockout punch. Carlos Dunlap is not a Mike Tyson left hook but he might be a Michael Spinks right cross. Spinks rarely knocked out guys early but he knocked guys out. He could convert an advantage into a certain win.

Up seven and with two eternally long minutes left in regulation, the Seahawks defense was once again reeling, allowing long gains and failing to adequately disrupt the opposing offense. Either of the two passes before Dunlap’s sack (in some universe) could have been flagged for defensive pass interference.

I’m not saying either was! I’m saying a bad flag could have been thrown because plays like these have resulted in a bad flag before. I’m saying, don’t let it go to the cards. Win unambiguously. Every chance Murray gets to accurately target a receiver is a chance for a ref to call PI, a chance, frankly, for a Seahawks defensive back to commit PI.

If Dunlap doesn’t sink him, who knows how Arizona counterpunches? Maybe they go for two and win in regulation. As long as the Cardinals had a chance, doom felt imminent. That’s the mistrust this defense has earned.

Dunlap’s a closer. He ends opponents unambiguously. He doesn’t attack right tackle Kelvin Beachum with a fancy move. He beats him to the edge, runs a very long curve through Beachum’s block, and uses his inside arm to push Beachum’s arms up around his neck. Beachum either releases or commits the hold. It’s a stable, repeatable and generally effective approach.

Both of Dunlap’s sacks were for a loss of six. I would love to see pass rush heat maps. That would make assembling a smart, synergistic pass rush a lot easier. It sure seems like pass rushers have a typical area of effectiveness, a place within the pocket where their particular talents, skills and techniques make them most dangerous.

Dunlap’s best skill may be his vision. He doesn’t lose the ball carrier too often and if he does he quickly finds him again. He has a knack. His errors often become happy accidents through intuition. His first sack is a good example.

It sure looks like Dunlap mistakenly targets Kenyan Drake. Only when Drake flashes his 41 toward Dunlap does he plant and cut left toward Murray. It’s the darnedest thing but it sure seems to psyche out Murray. You can see Murray recognize [someone] free. He draws both hands up in a defensive/protective way. But when Dunlap overshoots, Murray lowers the ball again and looks down field. Dunlap’s mistake gives him the element of surprise and turns what may have been a pressure, throwaway or scramble into a sack. Every great pass rusher finds his own funny way to find and tackle the quarterback.

The Seahawks are still running out some funky lines. Jarran Reed played defensive end. Often. L.J. Collier played tackle. Often. In fact, according to the game book, Seattle’s stated starting defensive line seemed to ignore the generally understood meaning of “end.”

Tackle-End-Nose-LEO is a funky combination, and I wouldn’t say Seattle’s pass rush looked ferocious or anything. But they’re trying, they’re tinkering, they’re working to find something which works. Maybe Darrell Taylor has something to add. But a line of Dunlap-Reed-Collier-[someone] be it Benson Mayowa or Taylor or probably not Alton Robinson but maybe Alton Robinson gives the Seahawks credible pass rush. For now anyway Dunlap-anyone-anyone-anyone has produced credible pass rush. And all for a seventh-round pick and a junk contract. Thanks Cincinnati!

There’s hope this gets solved. I got pretty hung up on where Dunlap should play but who really cares what Seattle chooses to call the position which delivers the game-winning sack? Elephant, LEO, left defensive end, any name works in a win.