It’s been a little bit of an adventure for the Seattle Seahawks to find that ideal cornerback opposite Richard Sherman. The “Legion of Boom” as we know them began with Brandon Browner as the starting RCB, but when Browner got hurt (and also suspended) midway through 2013, Byron Maxwell proved to be a fantastic replacement. In the 2015 offseason, Seattle did not re-sign Maxwell, who flamed out spectacularly in his one season with the Eagles, and was recently benched (again) by the Miami Dolphins.
The first post-Maxwell solution was Cary Williams, who was so bad that he didn’t even last one season before getting binned. Option number two heading into 2016 was DeShawn Shead, who impressed by being not-Cary Williams in 2015, and then beat out Tharold Simon in training camp. Shead was a steady performer but definitely a step below Maxwell, but a torn ACL in the playoff loss to Atlanta dashed any chances of him being the starter come week 1 of the 2017 season.
With Seattle’s secondary in a considerable state of uncertainty, whether through health issues or trade rumors, the Seahawks clearly needed to freshen up the LOB on multiple fronts.
Enter Shaquill Griffin, the first Seahawks cornerback drafted within three rounds since Josh Wilson in 2007.
“Quill” hasn’t won the starting job from Jeremy Lane, but it didn’t take long for him to be thrown right into the fire. Lane’s completely incorrect ejection on opening day against the Packers meant that Griffin had to play almost the entire game with the great Aaron Rodgers frequently picking on him. He gave up his fair share of catches and had two penalties, but he also recorded 10 tackles and averaged under ten yards allowed per reception (6). I consider that a job well done.
One play that may not seem like a major deal but has me extremely encouraged about Quill is a tackle he made on Taywan Taylor of the Tennessee Titans. Griffin wasn’t able to use his left hand break up Marcus Mariota’s throw to the speedy Taylor, but he still had the strength to bring Taylor down with his right arm and prevent a short gain from becoming an explosive play. Tennessee would punt on this possession, and the Seahawks responded with their first touchdown of the game.
Much like week 1 against the Packers, Lane left the Colts game early, although this time due to injury and not an ejection. Quill made a key 3rd down stop on Indy’s third possession (following Seattle giving up a safety), as he knocked away Jacoby Brisett’s pass to Kamar Aiken to force a three-and-out.
Yes, Griffin was later beaten for a touchdown by Donte Moncrief later on in the first half. If you’re worried about that play, then your expectations for a rookie cornerback are a tad too high. Here’s Richard Sherman giving up a touchdown in his first NFL start.
The title of “best Seahawks newcomer” realistically could only go to one of Griffin or Chris Carson, and while Carson has earned all of the accolades and it’s devastating to lose his services, Griffin is my choice because he’s been thrown into the unenviable role of “The guy quarterbacks target because Richard Sherman is on the other side,” and he’s handled it extremely well.
With Lane a question mark to play this weekend against the Rams, it’s possible we see Griffin make his first career start against the #1 passing offense by DVOA. Quill is going to take his lumps, but as long as he learns from them, you cannot help but feel excited about his long-term prospects as a standout DB for a defense that’s doing what it can to remain among the elite in football.
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