Seahawks Takeaways: Carlos Dunlap’s impact is exactly what Seattle needed

Nov 25, 2020, 9:00 AM

Seahawks Carlos Dunlap...

Carlos Dunlap has 3 1/2 sacks in three games since joining the Seahawks. (Getty)


The Seahawks are set up for a nice win streak against their next four opponents, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be an easy run. They’ll need to capitalize on what we saw from them in Thursday night’s win over the Cardinals, and some of that play (particularly on defense) still needs to prove it can stick around.

Clayton: Advantage Seahawks in NFC West as they enter the stretch run

Here are five Seahawks takeaways heading into Week 12.

Carlos Dunlap’s still got it, and trading for him was the right move

It wasn’t clear how impactful Dunlap could be when the Seahawks traded for him in late October. After 10 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, he was ranked second all-time in their franchise history in sacks. But at 31 years old this season, Dunlap was seeing less playing time and clearly wasn’t happy about it. Dunlap wanted out of Cincy and the Bengals seemed intent to move on. Seattle was a great landing spot for a second chance, but it remained to be seen just how effective that new relationship would be for Seattle.

Turns out, pretty darn effective.

Dunlap has 3.5 sacks already in three games with the Seahawks, which is 2.5 more than he had with Cincinnati through seven weeks this year. His six quarterback hits with Seattle is also more than he had with the Bengals, and he was all over the field against Arizona on Sunday. His game-clinching sack of Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray on fourth down with 38 seconds remaining was the big play, but there was also another sack and a tackle on a screen to limit receiver Larry Fitzgerald to a 1-yard gain. He’s tallied eight pressures and has just one missed tackle, as well.

Dunlap will be a key for the Hawks’ success on defense moving forward. Considering he was acquired for a center that wasn’t being used (B.J. Finney) and a seventh-round draft pick, the trade for him has already paid off.

The Seahawks’ defense is capable of fixing mistakes

The Seahawks defense had been struggling with recurring issues. They were blitzing but not consistently getting pressure on the passer, quarterbacks were too often able to find wide open receivers, and there were clear communication issues with broken coverage in the secondary. It wasn’t shocking with no offseason, several new faces and a few injuries, but it was concerning.

One of the most encouraging things from Thursday night’s win wasn’t just the way the defense limited Murray. It was how they limited the entire Cardinals offense. Cornerback Tre Flowers, who had been struggling, held star Arizona wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to just over 50 yards. D.J. Reed played well in relief of Seattle’s starters as the corner opposite Flowers. The Seahawks got pressure on Murray, something they hadn’t been able to do in Week 7. And outside of a touchdown pass to a wide open Chase Edmonds, there didn’t appear to be consequential lapses in communication.

The Seahawks inched closer to being a contender

You’re always a contender when you’ve got a franchise quarterback like Russell Wilson, but it was hard to see the Seahawks as being a legitimate Super Bowl threat with the defense they’d fielded through the first half of the season. And while they have ground to make up there, they’ve started rebuilding their case by holding the Cardinals to 21 points, a season-low for Seattle.

Balanced is better

You won’t hear me calling for Wilson to pass the ball less often, and you’ll definitely never hear me argue for more runs on first down. But having a starting-caliber running back made a huge difference in the potency of Seattle’s offense, and that includes Wilson’s play.

Carlos Hyde returned from injury to run for a season-high 79 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, Seattle’s quarterback ended his turnover streak, and the team felt more physical as a whole. I don’t think this means Wilson is done taking shots, but I do think it’s clear that Hyde and Chris Carson are the pieces this group been missing – which is why it’s good news that Carson returns this Monday night.

Damien Lewis remains the star of Seattle’s 2020 draft class

Props to linebacker and first-round pick Jordyn Brooks, who has shown improvement week over week since returning from a knee injury, but third-round pick Lewis takes the title of the best rookie for Seattle. There were some issues early on with penalties, but Lewis performed well against Arizona considering that was his first ever time playing center. He should be able to move back to guard with Ethan Pocic on his way back from a concussion, and the early favorite to be Seattle’s best draft pick from 2020 has proven it through 10 weeks.

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Seahawks Takeaways: Carlos Dunlap’s impact is exactly what Seattle needed