Seahawks Q&A: Stacy Rost answers your questions about the Carlos Dunlap trade and the defense
The Seahawks have a new pass rusher in defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who the team acquired from the Cincinnati Bengals for backup center B.J. Finney and a 2021 seventh-round pick.
Dunlap, 31, was a second-round draft pick bf the Bengals in 2010 out of Florida. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler (2015 and 2016) and has 82.5 career sacks.
As expected, many Seahawks fans have questions about the trade and what it means for Seattle’s defense and defensive line. This is an attempt to answer a few of those, all of which were submitted to this tweet:
— Stacy Jo Rost (@StacyRost) October 28, 2020
• @somebadtake: How soon will Dunlap see the field?
Dunlap has to go through COVID protocol (yes, even if he was already in protocol in Cincinnati), which means he won’t be available for the Seahawks this Sunday. It doesn’t sound as though he’s dealing with an injury and, unlike Harrison, he’s already been taking NFL snaps this year. So I’d expect him to suit up next Sunday against Buffalo.
• @RedsledDan: It’s been said the Seahawks’ defense needs to get to a level close to normal. What defines normal? And how do Dunlap, Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Jamal Adams get Seattle to normal or better?
According to ESPN.com, there are a handful of teams who have had winning records while fielding a defense that was right near the bottom of the league in yards allowed per game: the 2018 Chiefs (405.5 YPG), the 2012 Patriots, and the 2011 Patriots (411.1 YPG) and Packers (411.6 YPG) – and none of those teams won a Super Bowl. Even then, those defenses didn’t give up nearly as many yards per game as Seattle has this year (479.2 YPG).
I’d define “normal” as league average, but I don’t even know that Seattle has to be doing that to get to a Super Bowl. This offense is so good; they’re averaging 425.2 yards per game (one of six teams with 400 or more yards on offense per game) and a league-high 33.8 points per game. But to get to a Super Bowl they will need the defense to improve, period. Knocking off 70-100 yards per game (which would be a huge improvement) would get them closer to the Chiefs and Browns, the latter of which ranks in the low 20s. Getting out of the bottom third in points allowed would clearly help that cause also.
• @Coach_K_Wright: What does the defensive line rotation look like with Dunlap and “Snacks” Harrison in the mix?
Experience and familiarity are always more valuable to coaches, and matter more than any expectations fans may have for Seattle’s newest additions. So my guess is Benson Mayowa will continue to start at LEO, while Poona Ford and Jarran Reed will remain the starters on the interior.
That doesn’t mean Dunlap won’t get plenty of opportunities. The Seahawks were hoping to have a healthy rotation at defensive end with Mayowa, Darrell Taylor, and Alton Robinson, with Bruce Irvin also contributing as an occasional edge rusher. But after six weeks, the Seahawks are without Taylor and Irvin (and Rasheem Green). Taylor has a chance to return, but for now it’ll be Mayowa and Dunlap splitting the majority of those reps at the LEO spot, with Harrison offering occasional relief to Reed and Ford.
• @tudor_hidy: Do the trades stop here for the Seahawks or do they look to add more to the defensive front?
I would bet the farm they’re continuing to look. Whether or not they pull the trigger remains to be seen – they neither have a lot of time (the deadline is coming up on Tuesday) nor a lot of money to spend. But John Schneider and Pete Carroll have repeatedly told us over the years that they’re always involved in every deal. The roots for their trade for Jadeveon Clowney, for example, were set around April’s draft, months before the trade was pulled off.
When it comes to this defense, two things are true: The first is that the Seahawks don’t have a ton of salary cap space. The second is that they need more help. The Seahawks have just nine sacks and 29 hurries as a team. Consider that the Rams, who have brought the same number of blitzes (81), have 24 sacks.
There are a few defensive linemen who could be a target, including Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan and Atlanta’s Takk McKinley. Albert Breer recently reported Cleveland’s Olivier Vernon could also be on the trade block. Kerrigan’s base salary is the highest of the three. A move for any of these players wouldn’t just cost another draft pick, but would also require Seattle to make some salary cap moves. Giving up a player in a trade would make some of that easier.
Given what Seattle has to give up, they might be willing to wait to see what the defense looks like with a healthy Jamal Adams, and the additions of Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Carlos Dunlap.
• @MikeAllSawyer: Dunlap taking his Bengals parking spot sign got me thinking: A) What’s the best thing you’ve taken with you after leaving a job? Or B) What did you ALMOST take when leaving a job but didn’t?
I’ve actually never taken anything from a job, which is something I deeply regret. My goal is to live a more exciting life, and Dunlap taking his parking sign might be my inspiration for that.