Disappointed in his overall performance in 2018, Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin made wholesale adjustments to his training regimen this offseason.
First, he and his twin brother Shaquem hired a personal chef to prepare meals several days a week. With the improved nutritional plan, Griffin cut down on his carb intake and trimmed his weight down to 194 pounds, close to his playing weight during his rookie season.
Secondly, Griffin dedicated himself to becoming a student of the game and watching more game film, including assigning 2013 Seahawks film to his teammates with hopes this year’s team could learn from observing the “Legion of Boom” in peak form.
For one game at least, Griffin’s revamped offseason game plan looks to have paid off.
Seattle struggled to slow down Cincinnati’s passing attack in a tight 21-20 victory on Sunday, allowing veteran quarterback Andy Dalton to throw for a career-best 418 passing yards and throw two touchdown passes to speedy receiver John Ross. But don’t point the finger at Griffin for the issues in the secondary.
Entering his second season as a full-time starter at left cornerback, the spot once famously held by Richard Sherman, Griffin finished with three tackles and two passes defensed. But his most important play in this game didn’t even show up in the box score.
With the Seahawks nursing a 21-17 lead with 13:34 to play, Dalton decided to take a shot on a “free” play when defensive end Jadeveon Clowney drew a flag for a neutral zone infraction. Ross, who already had burned Seattle for two scores, looked to have a step on Griffin running a go route down the right sideline.
The play likely wouldn’t have counted because the officials blew it dead immediately after the snap, but Griffin showed off sensational closing speed to recover and swatted Dalton’s pass away, preventing a potential 76-yard touchdown reception for Ross.
In his weekly Monday press conference, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters he saw a far more comfortable, confident Griffin on the field than he did a year ago.
“I thought he played really well. Yeah, I thought he played a really good football game, tackling well also.” Carroll said. “I thought he was on it, aggressive and confident. It’s as good as we’ve seen him. I think it was a great start for him.”
Now in his third season out of UCF, Seattle still believes Griffin can become the shutdown corner the organization envisioned when they drafted him in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He showed great potential as a rookie playing on the right side, but struggled mightily last year as he tried too hard to replace Sherman’s production.
Rather than focusing on doing his job, Griffin admitted he put too much stock in trying to make interceptions and individual stats, which ultimately hindered his play. He battled inconsistencies as a tackler and botched a few coverage assignments over the course of the season, showing signs of regression rather than forward progress.
Leaner, stronger, and faster, Griffin looked like a different player in Sunday’s opener, flying around the field as a tackler and confidently making plays on the football in coverage.
Moving into a gauntlet of games featuring talented quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlishberger, Drew Brees, and Jared Goff, Griffin’s re-emergence couldn’t come at a better time and the Seahawks will need the athletic cornerback to continue playing at an elite level if they have any intention of slowing down high-octane aerial attacks in the future.