Heaps: What Shaquem Griffin brings to the Seahawks’ defense
The Seahawks’ defensive struggles from the first two weeks of the season carried over in Week 3 against the Cowboys and though Seattle came away with the victory, they allowed over 500 yards of offense and left the game with a number of injuries. But there was a bright spot on that side of the ball that was a bit unexpected.
Already without starting linebacker/defensive end Bruce Irvin and nickel corner Marquise Blair, who are out for the season, and starting cornerback Quinton Dunbar or backup safety Lano Hill as they were inactive due to injuries, the Seahawks lost starting safety Jamal Adams and first-round linebacker Jordyn Brooks to injuries as well.
With so many players banged up across the board, third-year linebacker/pass rusher Shaquem Griffin, who was put on the gameday roster from the practice squad for Week 3, wound up on the field on defense, particularly late in the game. He played 17 defensive snaps and recorded both a pass breakup and quarterback hit and lined up both as an edge rusher and also as a linebacker, sometimes “spying” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told reporters that Griffin again will be active and play in Week 4 against the Dolphins due to his performance in Week 3. Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy said that news made him very excited given how Griffin played against the Cowboys.
“What he did at the end of the game versus the Dallas Cowboys as they were going in their two-minute drill and in through the fourth quarter, he actually provided a spark,” he said. “He provided a guy in pass-rushing situations that could legitimately get to the quarterback or create quarterback hurries because of his speed.”
Griffin, a 2018 fifth-round pick who has just one hand due to a birth defect, was able to make an impact when the Seahawks needed it late in the game as they struggled to close things out against Dallas.
“When you looked at him in some of their three-down pass rush and prevent defense (snaps), he sometimes dropped back and he sniffed out a screen (where he) saw, reacted and exploded to the ball,” Heaps said. “… I’m curious to see if he can continue to keep improving and keep adding to what the Seahawks’ defensive line is lacking.”
Griffin, listed at under 230 pounds, is small for the average NFL pass rusher, which he does in addition to his duties as an outside linebacker. Heaps said on a regular basis, Griffin won’t win one-on-one battles with starting NFL offensive tackles, but something the Seahawks have done differently defensively in 2020 may allow Griffin to wreak havoc on offensive lines and quarterbacks.
“With the way and style that this Seahawks defense is right now, which is one of the highest (blitzing) teams in the NFL right now – a huge difference from this year to previous years under Pete Carroll – this actually is a benefit for Shaquem Griffin because he can twist, he can stunt, he can do all these different things that can create confusion on the offensive line, which can allow him to get to the quarterback even better than before in their normal scheme,” he said.