Heaps: What went into Seahawks DE Carlos Dunlap’s 3-sack game

Dec 22, 2021, 3:16 PM
Seahawks DE Carlos Dunlap...
Matthew Stafford of the Los Angeles Rams is sacked by Carlos Dunlap of the Seattle Seahawks. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

For the third year in a row, the Seahawks have had extended issues when it comes to sacking opposing quarterbacks.

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The team finished second-to-last in sacks in 2019, and while the Hawks finished seventh in 2020, they had arguably the worst pass rush in the league in the first half of the season. A big reason that turned around, however, was a midseason trade for veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap.

Dunlap tallied five sacks in just eight games for the Seahawks in 2020, and the pass rush and defense as a whole came alive in the second half of the year. Dunlap was initially cut by the Seahawks this offseason due to a high cap hit, but he re-signed with the team on a two-year deal.

This season has been a different story for Dunlap, however. Entering Tuesday’s game against the Rams, Dunlap had just 1.5 sacks and was only playing 37% of Seattle’s defensive snaps.

Dunlap still didn’t play a ton of snaps against the Rams in Seattle’s 20-10 loss, but he did make a massive impact, taking down Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford three times for sacks to raise his season total to 4.5 through 14 games.

Why did Dunlap have that kind of breakout game? Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps shared his thoughts Wednesday.

“Just simply more opportunities. I mean, this was something I talked about last week going into this matchup,” Heaps told his 710 ESPN Seattle Jake and Stacy co-host Stacy Rost. “You knew that the Rams were going to be more of a pass-heavy attack, that they were going to be very comfortable with just dropping back and let Matthew Stafford just throw it all over the yard. And that requires you to take advantage of that and put your best pass rushers on the field.”

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Stafford had 29 passing attempts, was sacked four times and rushed on scrambles three times Tuesday night.

So why did Dunlap get used more in this game than in previous weeks this season?

“Injuries may have played a factor, the COVID list (for both teams) may have played a factor in terms of Carlos Dunlap getting more opportunities,” Heaps said. “He didn’t play over 50%, he only played 21 snaps … but (he had) more opportunities and (Seattle) actually let him rush the passer rather than dropping back in coverage, and he took advantage of it.”

Heaps also noted that the Rams were without starting right tackle Rob Havenstein, who was on the reserve/COVID list, allowing Dunlap a matchup advantage.

Regardless, Heaps thinks Dunlap needs to play more after his breakout performance.

“That’s what Carlos Dunlap is more than capable of doing, so it was great to see him have that success, great to see him have the three sacks, and it just goes to point that I think Carlos Dunlap deserves more opportunity and deserves more run,” Heaps later added. “It has been frustrating to watch as the season has progressed to not have him play his role in which he was brought here to do one season ago. That was always something that was perplexing to me.”

Listen to the conversation from the second hour of Wednesday’s edition of Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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Heaps: What went into Seahawks DE Carlos Dunlap’s 3-sack game