Fann Mail: Why the Seahawks were desperate to make the Carlos Dunlap trade

Joe Fann
·4 min read

Fann Mail: Why the Seahawks were desperate to make the Carlos Dunlap trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

It’s time for this week’s mailbag, and there’s plenty to discuss following the Seahawks' first loss of the season, an overtime heartbreaker at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7. Seattle is 5-1 following the primetime defeat with a Week 8 matchup against the 49ers upcoming.

Thanks, as always, to those who asked questions.

I’m assuming this question is in regard to Seattle’s offseason moves, to which, I’m sure the Seahawks would tell you that they did plenty to address the pass rush. They’d tell you that they believed in Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa’s ability to improve the defensive line. They’d surely point to trading up for Darrell Taylor in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft and then selecting Alton Robinson in the fifth.

John Schneider and Pete Carroll would surely call that a “serious attempt” to bolster the pass rush.

However, not a single one of those moves was a winner in the court of public perception, which is why the group was even more scrutinized heading into the season. The Seahawks losing Irvin to an ACL injury is tough luck, but Seattle’s poor pass rush is still a really bad look for Carroll and Schneider.

Improving the pass rush was the top priority last offseason, which makes it unacceptable for Seattle to be on pace to record fewer sacks this season (24) than the team had in 2019 (28). Which is why…

…the Seahawks were desperate to make a move prior to the Nov. 3 trade deadline. Wednesday morning's deal to acquire Carlos Dunlap from the Cincinnati Bengals was a move that had to be made after Seattle’s embarrassing performance against the Cardinals in Week 7.

Failing to register a single quarterback hit against Kyler Murray increased the level of urgency to add outside reinforcements to the pass rush. Seattle might not be done yet, either. Keep an eye on Atlanta’s Tak McKinnley. He’s another name expected to move prior to the trade deadline.

The Seahawks cut Anthony Rush on Tuesday, likely to make room for Damon Harrison to be promoted from the practice squad to the active roster. Ray-Ray Armstrong, Penny Hart, Luke Willson and Shaquem Griffin are other potential cuts for when guys return from injury or are acquired via trade or free agency.

I can’t say I understand this thought process at all. Yes, Seattle is the most pass-happy team in the NFL and has shown full commitment to letting Russell Wilson cook. As a result, the Seahawks own the highest-scoring offense in football. The issue with Seattle’s defense has nothing to do with fatigue from being on the field too much, which is why playing less wouldn’t cause the underperforming group to magically play better.

Sure, the Seahawks might give up fewer points per game with that approach, but Seattle would also score less as well. It would be a wash any way you slice it.

A better approach, in my opinion, would be to punt as little as possible. That means going for it more on 4th-and-short, even in your own territory. Seattle needs to understand its defense is capable of giving up points regardless of whether its defending a 40-yard field or a 90-yard field.

This is the best way I can answer this question: The Seahawks are good enough offensively to beat anyone in the NFL and bad enough defensively to lose to anyone in the NFL.