The 2019 Seattle Seahawks are a playoff team. They are actually probably a bit more than that, I think. The Los Angeles Rams should be nervous. They won’t be because they’re too business soaking up La La Land, but they should be. Oh, yes. They should be. The Seattle Seahawks are going to be back with a vengeance, and no player on this team is looking forward to redeeming himself more that this guy.
Cornerback Shaquill Griffin
Why is Griffin poised to be an impact player this season?
Because last year he suffered a bit of a sophomore slump, and this guy is too talented and dedicated to not bounce back from it. Athletically, he is probably the most naturally gifted corner Pete Carroll and John Schneider have drafted during their tenure in Seattle together. Griffin has blazing 4.3 speed and is an incredibly athletic tester. He has all the physical traits in this league to be a top level cornerback. People have talked a lot about how his game slipped in 2018 from his promising 2017 season. I have a few thoughts on this.
One thought is that he not only switched positions on the field from right corner to left corner, but he was also tasked the job of replacing a living legend in Richard Sherman. This is almost like Sammie Hagar having to replace David Lee Roth as the lead singer of Van Halen. Hagar was a great rock and roll singer on his own, but he was not Roth, and the band never felt the same, and fans knew it. So, it stands to reason that some fans are destined to forever compare Griffin with Sherman, and I think that is a bit of a shame because Griffin is a good player. In my opinion, it’s a bit of a stretch to say he was awful last year. I think it’s more accurate to say that his play slipped noticably down the stretch.
I think it’s also important to remind fans that for the first month of the season his play was actually pretty darn good. Both of his two interceptions for the season were picked up in one really good game against the Chicago Bears when he also had three pass defenses. That was when Seattle’s defense still had Earl Thomas. During that game, it felt like perhaps Seattle truly had made the right decision moving on from Sherman to Griffin. Two games later Seattle lost Earl Thomas for the rest of the season, and let’s be honest, the whole defensive backfield was a bit hit and miss the rest of the way, and that is saying it nicely.
In his one Spring mini camp press conference, Griffin explained that his play fell off in part because he got caught up on thinking he had to make a big play instead of simply doing his job. I think that this is actually a pretty honest self scouting report. He was likely pressured with not only having to replace an icon, but he was also pressured by not being supported by an all world free safety anymore, as well. When interceptions weren’t coming for the defense, it was perfectly natural to feel the pressure of having to make a play.
Carroll always preaches to do your job and don’t get caught up in another player’s job. That can be easier said than done, but this defense truly demands that. It will let you have the shallow plays, but it can not allow explosive plays down the field. When Sherman was still in his last couple years Seattle, his INTs went way down and he wasn’t really making Sports Center highlights any longer. Quarterbacks also weren’t throwing his way a ton. He did his job.
But let’s pause for a moment, and realize who Richard Sherman was in Seattle. He was a tall, lanky, not incredibly athletic, mid round pick of a corner who was also a former college receiver from a pro style offense at Stanford. He understood route trees, and offensive play-books, and because of that, he had incredible anticipation to make plays on the ball. He also came into Seattle with a massive chip on his shoulder, and had to fight tooth and nail for a roster spot as a rookie. That literally built his brand.
Griffin, on the other had, was drafted much higher, and was immediately handed a starting spot as a rookie. So in short, it’s pretty unfair to compare Griffin to Sherman. They are two really different dudes, truly, and as anyone who raises a child can attest, folks take leaps differently at different times. This will be his third year. Last year was Jarran Reed’s third year, and we saw how things clicked for him.
So, let me tell you what I am going to do. I am going to go out on a limb for Shaquill Griffin. I’m going to say that I take solace in his self scouting, and I believe he’s going to correct his game in 2019. In fact, I think he is going to have a big bounce back year. So much so that I am projecting him to be the sixth best player on the team out of fifty three guys. I think he’s that talented.
Seattle had eleven picks in the draft last spring and they didn’t take a single cornerback. They took a couple safeties, and a couple linebackers, and a couple defensive linemen, but no corners. I think Seattle likes their cornerback situation A LOT more than many fans do. So, I’m going to trust Pete Carroll on this one. I think Griffin will be chomping at the bit to redeem what even he acknowledged was a down sophomore year for him. He’s got a good head on his shoulders, and he’s way too talented to not improve.
And I think Seattle’s defense is going to be a lot better than a lot of people think.