On Seahawks’ depth chart, has Shaquem Griffin passed Ziggy Ansah?
The Seahawks’ defensive line, namely defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, has received a lot of praise after the team’s 27-24 overtime victory in a thrilling matchup Monday night with the San Francisco 49ers.
But while many on the line had their best games of the season to help Seattle pull off the upset victory, one member of the line continues to be a topic of discussion for all the wrong reasons.
After trading defensive end Frank Clark for a lofty haul of draft picks in April, the team signed defensive end Ziggy Ansah to a one-year deal in May.
Ansah was one of the better edge rushers in the NFL when healthy since entering the league in 2013, but he’s been slowed down by injuries over the previous three seasons. Ansah played for the Detroit Lions for his whole career before joining the Seahawks.
The injury bug has followed him to Seattle, as he’s missed three games this season with a hurt shoulder and later an ankle injury. He has just one sack this year and didn’t record a tackle during Monday’s victory over the 49ers.
The pass rush hadn’t been very effective until Monday’s game, but as his fellow defensive lineman flourished, Ansah fell flat once again. He failed to record a tackle during the game and was on the field for just 14 of the team’s 88 defensive snaps.
Ansah was outpaced by defensive ends Clowney, Quinton Jefferson, Rasheem Green, Brandon Jackson and lost snaps to linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who played 14 defensive snaps as an edge rusher.
Griffin was the feel-good story of the 2018 NFL Draft, where the Seahawks selected him in the fifth round. He was born with amniotic band syndrome, which caused the fingers on his left hand to never fully develop. He had the hand amputated when he was 4 years old.
His twin brother, Shaquill, is a third-year starting cornerback for the Seahawks, and the two played collegiately at the Univerity of Central Florida. While Shaquill started as a rookie for Seattle in 2017, Shaquem was still in college and was a second team All American.
Has Griffin jumped Ansah in the edge rusher pecking order? Former NFL wide receiver Michael Bumpus joined Danny and Gallant on the Blue 42 segment Wednesday morning to help break that down.
“It looks like for the time being, yes,” Bumpus said. “You heard the club talk about Ansah. He’s not healthy. He hasn’t gained all of his weight back, which is hard to do during the season.”
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has said Ansah currently weighs roughly 258 pounds, and he typically wants to play at 270 pounds.
“It’s hard to maintain the weight during the season, let alone gain 30 pounds,” Bumpus said. “I don’t think he’s done (as a member of the Seahawks), but I think that Shaquem will get a few more looks, as he should.”
Paul Gallant was surprised that Griffin was the player Carroll turned to for more snaps on the edge.
“I don’t know if that’s something you guys had seen in the offseason or training camp, but when I think of Shaquem Griffin I think of a ‘tweener’ defensive back/linebacker and a special teams player,” Gallant said. “I definitely don’t think of (Griffin as somebody) that’s going to be put on the end of a defense playing defensive end. It seems like he’s a little undersized.”
Griffin is 6-feet tall and weighs around 230 pounds, which is much smaller than many edge rushers in today’s NFL. Despite that, Bumpus reminded Gallant that Griffin was a regular pass rusher in college. He finished his collegiate career with 17 sacks and 30 tackles for loss.
“I guess they feel like they’ve put him back to his original position,” Bumpus said. “He played that outside backer spot, he’d walk down to (defensive) end, so they went for speed. You’ve got Ansah, you’ve got a little bit of size, but with Shaquem you go for speed to mix things up.
“I think if they play it right, they can be a good little one-two punch to mix things up a little bit and give these (offensive) tackles something to worry about.”
Danny O’Neil thinks that if Griffin gets more chances, he has a good chance to improve going forward.
“Roll him out there with some chances,” O’Neil said. “I know last year they thought he was a little light to be rushing the passer, but he’s certainly not going to give you less than you’ve been getting from Ziggy.”
Listen to the segment at this link or in the player below.