Why Seahawks’ Carlos Dunlap, Jordyn Brooks are catching Cliff Avril’s eye
The Seahawks finally seemed to take a big step forward on defense Thursday night, holding the Arizona Cardinals to 21 points in a win, the lowest total in a game this season for Seattle’s D.
Seahawks legend Cliff Avril joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob on Friday afternoon to share his thoughts on the 28-21 victory, focusing mainly on the defensive effort and the players that have stood out to him lately.
Let’s take a look at a few of the things Avril had to say.
Longtime fan of Carlos Dunlap
Recent trade acquisition Carlos Dunlap has been a revelation in his three games since joining Seattle. The 31-year-old two-time Pro Bowler already has 3.5 sacks, which is notable for a couple of reasons. First, when he made his Seahawks debut, no player on the team had more than two sacks through seven games. And second, the Seahawks’ leader in sacks in 2019 had just four (Rasheem Green), a number Dunlap would equal or eclipse the next time he puts down an opposing QB.
Avril knows a thing or two about pass rushing in the Seahawks’ defense, and he understands why Dunlap fits. He also has had his eye on Dunlap for a long time.
“I’ve been a fan of Dunlap since I’ve been playing,” said Avril, who retired after the 2017 season. “The man, he’s athletic, he’s big… The boy just can play some football and can pass rush. He’s been consistent around quarterbacks his whole career.”
Avril added that Dunlap’s game isn’t just about pressuring quarterbacks as he’s skilled at stopping the run, but the thing that really makes him a terror for offenses is his 6-foot-6, 285-pound frame.
“I think the biggest thing with Dunlap is… he’s a bigger rusher so he can get into these O-linemen and push these guys back,” Avril said. “He can collapse the pocket with a bull rush.”
He knows his position well, too, as Avril explained by breaking down the first of two sacks Dunlap had of Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray.
“He understood that once you get to the level of the quarterback, you gotta fall back underneath,” Avril said. “The way they had him lined up, that’s exactly what he did – he fell back underneath, Kyler stepped up and he got him a sack.”
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 20, 2020
The Seahawks player standing out the most
When asked who has impressed him the most, Avril had perhaps a surprising pick in rookie linebacker Jordyn Brooks, who just so happens to wear Avril’s old uniform number.
“Honestly, he grabs my attention most times, and not just because I see him in No. 56.” Avril quipped.
While Seattle’s 2020 first-round pick has certainly been making plays, it’s what Brooks is doing before the snap – while playing in the same position group as a couple of veteran stars – that really stands out to Avril.
“He’s been playing well from a standpoint of you see him making calls out there, you see him kinda calling plays out, and that’s not common for a young player,” Avril said. “It’s not common for a player to feel like he can do that, especially when you have somebody by the name of Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright playing next to you, right? So him feeling comfortable and being able to make plays, his sideline to sideline has been on point, you see him slip up on coverage but you expect that from a rookie. Overall, I’ve enjoyed watching him get down.”
Seahawks’ defense finds its groove
Avril was glad to see Seattle put together a game on defense for the first time all season where every quarter was as good as the next. That definitely had not been the case going into Week 11.
“Just being able to finish out a game – we’ve seen them play three great quarters and then they give up 400-plus yards in the fourth quarter or something crazy like that. … I think it was just great to see them put a complete game together. You see the guys up front getting after the quarterback, you see the guys on the back end defending some of their play makers and not allow them to get 300 yards passing like we’ve seen in the weeks passed. Collectively, it was just great seeing those guys get active, and everyone’s kinda doing their part.”
Avril hit on what was perhaps the biggest factor for Seattle’s D, as fellow former Seahawks player Dave Wyman went on to point out.
“It seems like the pass rush and the coverage kinda matched up,” said Wyman, who then alluded to the Seahawks team that won the Super Bowl in Avril’s first season with Seattle. “It was like whenever (Murray) was ready to throw, nobody was open, and it seems like that’s how you guys were in 2013.”
Responded Avril: “They do go hand in hand. Any real good DB, whether it be a cornerback or a safety, they understand and respect what the guys up front bring, and it’s the same thing with the guys up front. To be honest with you, that’s one of the reasons I came to Seattle, was because I knew LOB was back there, I knew that would give me some time to get after the quarterback, so they do go hand in hand, and (Thursday) night shows that.
“… The pass rush was getting after it so it made the back end look good. The back end was doing their job as well, and it allowed the pass rush to be able to be active. And I think the biggest thing, I don’t know what the percentage was, but it didn’t seem as if they needed to blitz as much as they have (in recent games). … You see Dunlap, you see Jarran Reed applying pressure, Poona Ford. … They do go hand in hand; you can’t have one without the other.”
Wyman & Bob