The start to this Seahawks’ season may be eliciting more questions than any in the past decade.

It was hard to get to them all as I reopened the Seahawks Twitter mailbag this week. But here are three, focusing on Carlos Dunlap, the running game and DK Metcalf.

OlManRiver60 asked: Where’s Dunlap? I mean, he’s invisible so for this season.

Dunlap’s lack of production — at least in the traditional stats — is indeed beginning to become a storyline worth watching.

Dunlap has no sacks and just two quarterback hits and three tackles in six games.

That contrasts to five sacks and 14 quarterback hits in eight games a year ago after he was acquired in a trade with the Bengals and helped revive Seattle’s pass rush to such an extent that no team in the NFL had more sacks over the last 10 games than the Seahawks’ 37.

But I note that those are the traditional stats because the advanced stats of Pro Football Focus portray Dunlap more favorably.


Via PFF, Dunlap has 13 pressures in 135 pass rush snaps, or basically a 10% pressure rate, essentially the same as a year ago when he had 40 pressures in 409 snaps.

And again via PFF, Dunlap’s 13 pressures are the second-most on the team behind the 14 of Darrell Taylor, and his 10 hurries are the most.

And sacks, as many coaches and players note constantly, tend to come in bunches and aren’t as predictable or consistent as getting pressures and hurries. So, the hope will be that eventually Dunlap’s pressures and hurries will again result in sacks.

Dunlap is now 32, and while that’s not ancient by pass-rush standards, it’s obviously about the time that age can begin to become a factor. And that’s one reason why Seattle played some hardball with Dunlap last March contractually, initially cutting him instead of keeping him on a deal that would have meant a $14.1 million cap hit in 2021. Seattle eventually re-signed Dunlap on a two-year deal plus a void year that reduced the cap hit to $2.9 million for 2021, though that increases to $6.5 million and $4.2 million in 2022 and 2023.

No doubt, Seattle isn’t paying all that money for Dunlap to just get close to the QB. They’ll need some real, live actual sacks soon.

But Dunlap isn’t the only one — the Seahawks are tied for 22nd with 11 sacks and 19th in pressure percentage at 23.9.


That has to get better.

Goon_Dock_Saint asked: What changed in the run game in that 2nd half (against the Steelers)? More committed? Technique/scheme?

Two things — commitment, as you mentioned, and adjusting to what the Steelers were doing defensively.

The commitment part was obvious — after calling drop backs on all 10 offensive plays in the second quarter, and gaining just 9 yards as a result, the Seahawks called runs on nine of the first 10 plays in the third quarter as they moved 75 yards in 10 plays for a TD that cut the score to 14-7.

Seattle also noticed two things — that the Steelers were mostly playing nickel and dime, which made them more susceptible to the run; and that the right side was the way to go to try to run away from tackle Cameron Heyward, who was having his way with the Seahawks early on.

Of Seattle’s first seven runs in the third quarter, all went to the right side behind guard Gabe Jackson and tackle Brandon Shell, good for 66 yards.

As for the way the Steelers were playing, Pittsburgh got 58 snaps Sunday out of what are their nickel and dime corners and their third safety and Seattle took advantage of that in the third quarter.

That changed some in the fourth quarter as the Steelers went back to playing more of their base defense and appeared to shift personnel some to their right side.


And the results were pretty stark — Seattle, which had just 18 yards on five carries in the first half, gained 110 yards on 15 carries in the third quarter alone. But after the Steelers adjusted, Seattle had just 13 yards on nine carries in the fourth quarter and overtime .

The difference between Seattle’s running game in the third quarter and the other three (as well as OT) might lead to some questioning of whether the Seahawks have really found a new identity for their offense, as Carroll hopefully suggested on Monday, or just took advantage of how the Steelers were playing for a couple of series. And worth noting the Steelers are a middle-of-the-road run defense team at 4.3 per carry, 16th in the NFL this week (Seattle averaged 5.3 Sunday night).

The answer to whether what happened in the third quarter Sunday really marks a breakthrough may come Monday night when Seattle plays a New Orleans team that is allowing just 3.3 yards per carry, fewest in the NFL.

jrlafont asked: Is there any concern in the building about DK (Metcalf’s) immaturity issues? Or does his talent supersede the minor warts (Cowboy TD fail, arguing too much with trash talking DBs, the Pitt play, the childish tweets to Shannon Sharpe). He seems to be better than that and I hope he matures.

I wouldn’t say concern. But certainly it’s something to which they are attentive.

The NFL is foremost a production business, and Metcalf continues to do just that.

While Metcalf’s yards per game are down slightly from last year when he set a Seahawks record with 1,303 — he’s averaging 73.5 per game compared to last year’s 81.4 — he has five touchdowns in six games (compared to 10 in 16 last year) and is averaging the same 5.2 receptions per game as a year ago. His percentage of drops is also way down — he has one in 45 targets this year, via Pro Football Reference, 2.2%, compared to eight in 129 last year, or 6.2%.


And the passer rating of Seattle QBs when throwing to Metcalf this year is 137.4, the best on the team, compared to 110.7 a year ago.

So, there’s no questioning Metcalf’s continuing ability to produce — and if he stays on that same track all season, he will be in line for a contract extension after the season that would undoubtedly make him the highest-paid receiver in team history and among the highest in the NFL.

Sure, the team might hope some of the other stuff smooths itself out some. But Metcalf is also still just 23, and this is a team used to dealing with some, well, strong personalities.

As for the Twitter exchange with Sharpe, in which Metcalf reacted angrily and somewhat vulgarly to Sharpe’s criticism of his fumble against the Steelers that could have cost Seattle a chance to tie the game, it’s unfortunate but probably not something the team views as too big of a deal while hoping it doesn’t happen again.

Carroll, though, did address it when he spoke to the media Monday.

Here’s what he said: “In general, I don’t know why anybody would want to communicate that way, openly. You can always call people and talk to them and work things out a lot more efficiently. We have always tried to discourage our guys from communicating in that fashion. For the most part, guys are really good at it now. Guys used to use Twitter like they were sending a text. They figured it out and DK has a big awareness. I don’t know how that one went kind of wherever. If you watch DK, you will always see him come around, he will always come around to clear thinking, and he’s a really bright kid.”