Heaps: It’s time Seahawks use pass rusher Carlos Dunlap more

Dec 18, 2021, 11:35 AM
Seahawks DE Carlos Dunlap...
Seahawks DE Carlos Dunlap reacts against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the third quarter at Lumen Field. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seahawks boosted their struggling pass rush midway through the 2020 season with their trade for veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who played a big part in a strong second half for Seattle’s defense creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

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The addition of Dunlap was important enough that Seattle re-signed him in the offseason, but his production hasn’t been anywhere near what it was a season ago. A big reason could be due to his usage, which is much lower than what’s been usual during his career.

The 32-year-old Dunlap has started just two of his 13 games this season, playing on 37% of the Seahawks’ defensive snaps. Compare that to 2020, when he played 57% of snaps in his eight games with Seattle and 59% in seven games with Cincinnati. Then consider that since 2012 when he played 62% of snaps for the Bengals, he had played at least 74% of his team’s defensive snaps for seven straight seasons until 2020.

“They have used him only as a third-down speed rusher,” 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake Heaps said of the Seahawks and Dunlap. “That’s it. That’s his role now, which is very surprising because Carlos Dunlap, I believe, is much more than that.”

Dunlap has just 1.5 sacks this year, on pace to be lower than the current lowest total of his career (4.5 in 2011). Heaps believes Dunlap still has enough left in the tank to be leaned on more in Seattle’s final four games this season, though.

“I think he’s a good player. I think he’s an every-down type of defensive end who just wasn’t able to get it going to start the season,” Heaps told Stacy Rost, his co-host on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy.

Tuesday’s game against the 9-4 Los Angeles Rams would be a great place to start, according to Heaps.

“Because the Rams, they’re going to throw the ball over the yard. Yeah, they’ll run it, they’ll test you, they’ll try to keep you honest with the run game, but let’s not kid ourselves – (Rams quarterback) Matthew Stafford is the offense and they have no qualms at this point just putting the ball in his hands and letting him go to work.

“So with that being said, I do think Carlos Dunlap should play more. He’s a guy that can affect not only with his pass rush, but he’s long, he does a great job of getting his hands up and disrupting the passing game by deflecting passes at the line of scrimmage. So I would love to see Carlos Dunlap have more run and not drop into coverage but actually rush the passer. That would be great.”

You can hear the full conversation between Heaps and Rost in the Four-Down Territory segment from Friday’s edition of Jake and Stacy in the podcast at this link or in the player below. And be sure to catch the rescheduled Seahawks-Rams game at 4 p.m. Tuesday on 710 ESPN Seattle and KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, with coverage starting with the pregame show at 1 p.m.

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