Seahawks DE Carlos Dunlap is back to take care of unfinished business
The arrival of Carlos Dunlap to the Seahawks last season resulted in a pretty noticeable improvement to the team’s defense in general, and more specifically the pass rush. But in his ninth game with the team, the NFC West champion Hawks were unceremoniously knocked out of the playoffs by the division rival Rams, and shortly after Dunlap became a free agent.
Dunlap has since re-signed with Seattle, and the 32-year-old defensive end is making it clear he wants to see through what the team’s defense started late last season.
“I think the team’s motivated. I think we all know we fell short and the main reason why was on us,” Dunlap told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant in an interview Thursday. “We didn’t perform when it was time to perform, so we got sent home. Coming in with that experience, and having the experience to be with the team for the whole season (in 2021) I think is going to help me long-term, make things easier. And I feel like we can continue to build on where we left because I feel like things were just starting to click for us going into the playoffs, and I want to pick up where we left off.”
Part of that sense that the defense was clicking before Seattle’s playoff exit had to do with how well Dunlap fit into the Seahawks’ system. Before he was traded midseason from the Bengals to Seattle, the two-time Pro Bowler had seen his role changed and diminished with Cincinnati, and as a result he had just one sack and four quarterback hits in seven games before the move. He said the Seahawks’ head coach knew right away how to use him, however.
“Cincinnati had made adjustments from what I had done my whole career,” Dunlap said. “Pete Carroll basically said, ‘You know, I’ve played against you a few times, I know what you’re capable of and I want to help you do what you do best.’ So the rest is history.”
Dunlap hit the ground running with the Seahawks, registering 1.5 sacks in his first game with the team, finishing the regular season with five sacks and 14 QB hits in eight games for Seattle, and playing a huge role in the team rising up the leaderboard for sacks over the second half of the year.
Dunlap looks forward to getting another chance to lead Seattle’s pass rush, and when it came to his decision to return to the team after testing free agency, it probably didn’t hurt that he appreciated the nice welcome he received from the organization and city when he first showed up in 2020.
“My first days there, it was very welcoming. Everybody from top to bottom, from the city, they all made me feel like I was the first-round draft pick in midseason,” he said.
You can hear Dunlap’s full interview with Danny and Gallant, which includes his thoughts on Russell Wilson and why he doesn’t think the Seahawks’ franchise quarterback is going anywhere, in the podcast at this link or in the player below. The segment begins just after the 28-minute mark.