Thursday the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Arizona Cardinals to take sole possession of first place in the NFC West pending the outcome of the Monday Night Football matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Rams. As Field Gulls own Alistair Corp noted Friday, Carlos Dunlap has been a phenomenal addition to a defense that had been struggling so far this season, in particular he has been a revelation for a pass rush that was basically non-existent for the first part of the year.
Specifically, through his three games with the Hawks Dunlap has three sacks, five tackles for loss and six quarterback hits. That has him tied for the second most sacks and tied for the third most quarterback hits on the team, even though he’s only been in town for three weeks. The cost to add that production to the team, was free agent signee B.J. Finney, who was buried on the depth chart for Seattle, and a seventh round pick.
It’s true that it might have been nice for the Seahawks to have had some extra depth on the interior of the offensive line with Ethan Pocic, Kyle Fuller and Jordan Simmons having suffered injuries after that trade that saw them miss time. However, in spite of having to call upon Fuller, who hadn’t seen regular season snaps since 2018, and Damien Lewis, who had never played center prior to the win over Arizona, the Seahawks ended their two game losing streak without him around.
That said, while Dunlap is tearing it up for the Seahawks through his first three games with the team, and the same cannot be said for Finney as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. In spite of an offensive line that is among the worst in the NFL, Finney is again buried on the depth chart for the Bengals. Sunday against the Washington Football Team Bengals quarterbacks took four sacks and twelve quarterback hits while Finney was a healthy scratch. In short, in exchange for a depth player who was doing little except providing blocking on extra points and field goals the Seahawks acquired a field tilting defensive end who has made a material impact on the field in the three games he has played for the Seahawks.
Add in the level of competition that Dunlap gets to face over the next four games, starting with Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles next Monday, and it’s not a stretch to imagine a situation in which Dunlap leads the Seahawks in nearly every pass rushing statistic by the time Christmas arrives. So, it may be true that John Schneider might have missed big time when he signed B.J. Finney in the spring, but given those lemons, Schneider made some sweet, sweet lemonade in correcting the problem.
And, as a bonus, Dunlap is under contract for 2021 as well, should the team decide he’s worth the $14.1M cap hit he is scheduled to carry, and so far, that cap hit seems like it might actually be a bargain.