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UHPOG, Week 5: Darrell Taylor has climbed the learning curve

You bet we’re still doing this, irritating loss be darned

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NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Seattle Seahawks
don’t turn around chase
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Understandably, most of Seahawks Nation, State, County, Town, Village, and Residential Cul-de-Sac is ready to move past the known horrors of Week 5 and into the unknown of Week 6. Hoping for fewer horrors. One last item of business though: who’s UHPOG?

(UnHeralded Player Of the Game, in case you’re new here. I’m new here. We’re all new here. The planet is 4.5 billion years old and homo sapiens has only been around for the last 300,000.)

The maligned Seahawks pass rush was... not great last Thursday night. They tallied a sparse three hits on Matthew Stafford and sacked him all of once. To be fair, no other team has hit him more than five times or sacked him more than once in a single game yet this season. Which is pretty maddening.

Darrell Taylor deserved no maligning, malignness, malignment whatsoever. He was disruptive in exactly the way John Schneider pictured when he used the 48th pick of the 2020 draft on Taylor.

First, from a statistical vantage point, Taylor made the most, and then some, of his 10 pass-rushing snaps.

  • 4 positive plays (1st on team)
  • 1 sack (nobody else had one)
  • 1 QB hit (tied for 1st)
  • 2 hurries (2nd)
  • 30.8 win percentage (2nd)

(Stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus.)

Let’s watch him operate now.

Again, with a prettier angle:

Later on, Taylor switches things up to force a throwaway.

And as the first tweet in the series claims, the defense misses him when he’s on the sideline. They should miss him! Taylor leads Seattle on the season with four sacks, five QB hits, three tackles for loss and one forced fumble, He’s making a strong case for Delayed Rookie Defensive Player of the Year. Yes, the guy who’s appeared in just five pro games he leads the Seahawks in four key defensive categories. This despite his lack of playing time: it may be hard to believe, but Taylor has been on the field for only 141 of 382 defensive snaps. Against the Rams? Only 22 plays.

Kerry Hyder Jr. and Taylor spent the first half alternating series on the left side of the defense; Carlos Dunlap logged some time there later. I fear for Hyder’s snaps moving forward, because you’re getting a lot more production out of the new guy than the vet. Dunlap finished with one hurry only, which wasn’t encouraging but it’s not quite time to panic with him, assuming he’s healthy.

Seattle’s pass rush was at its most dangerous, attacking and productive when Taylor was in. Less so when he wasn’t. There is much ink to be spilled and many pixels to be darkened regarding the myriad troubles of the Seahawks defense as currently constructed — and because of their struggles, it’s hard to find a defender to praise.

But Darrell Taylor, Week 5’s UHPOG, and Seattle’s most indispensable pass rusher at the moment, is demonstrating that he’s most likely going to be a special player, and probably sooner rather than later.