At the end of November and with just six games left in the season, Carlos Dunlap had just 0.5 sacks to his name and he’d just played a season-low 4 snaps against the Washington Football Team. By the end of the season, he was the Seattle Seahawks’ sack leader.
Why yes, Rashaad Penny wasn’t the only player to finish strongly to end the year. Dunlap was brought over via trade to Seattle through the middle of 2020, as the team looked to jump start a struggling pass rush. The former Cincinnati Bengal provided instant success and a couple of clutch sacks in crunch time.
After getting cut and then brought back on a team-friendly deal, Dunlap was very quiet in 2021. Schematic changes saw him drop into coverage a bit more and his snap count had reduced significantly.
Then the calendar flipped to December and everything changed.
In the home win against the San Francisco 49ers, the 32-year-old sacked Jimmy Garoppolo for a safety and then clinched the win with a batted pass at the line of scrimmage. He only played seven snaps but that’s high efficiency for you.
Two weeks later, Dunlap wreaked havoc against the Los Angeles Rams and tied a career high with three sacks.
He racked up two more sacks and nearly had a game-ending strip sack against the Chicago Bears, but the Bears recovered the fumble and we’ll just leave out the rest of the story.
In the season finale against the Arizona Cardinals, Dunlap dominated the Cards’ offensive line and sacked Kyler Murray twice and recorded a pass defensed.
Eight sacks is the most he’s ever recorded in a six-game span in his entire career, including his 2015 season where he had a career best 13.5 sacks. Dunlap also finished 2nd behind Rasheem Green in quarterback hits, and his 7 passes defensed was only bettered by corners D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones.
Dunlap wasn’t getting clean-up sacks like he’s Vic Beasley, either. He still has the ability to win with power and close on the quarterback quickly. If you like PFF grades for some reason, he graded pretty well.
After a couple of games where he literally didn’t record any stats, Dunlap closed out the year by proving there’s still something left in the tank. That doesn’t mean the Seahawks shouldn’t be looking to improve their pass rushing unit next season, but I think Dunlap has done enough to merit sticking around for the second year of his two-year deal.
And dammit, I want him to experience a playoff win at long last and I’d love for the Seahawks to make that happen.