Shaquem Griffin could be key to Seahawks pass rush in 2020
By Lee Vowell
The Seahawks still need pass-rush help in 2020. But they may have found a player who will help on their roster in Shaquem Griffin.
No offense to Ken Norton, Jr., the Seahawks defensive coordinator, but he seems to lack creativity in how to use some players. So, I guess some offense may be warranted. Norton, Jr. going with a heavy amount of three linebackers on the field in 2019 was a bad risk and the scheme did not allow Seattle to get a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
But even with three linebackers on the field many times, Norton, Jr. still couldn’t figure out a way to use Shaquem Griffin. Griffin has limitations, of course, and I don’t really mean that in the fact he has just one hand. Griffin seems to have issues in pass coverage. And no one really knows, because he hasn’t been given the chance, of how good he can be against the run.
But there is no doubt Griffen has speed and lots of it. This could be seen in his sack of Aaron Rodgers of the Packers in the Seahawks playoff game this past season. Once Griffin got through the line, which he did quickly, Rodgers had little chance of escaping. Griffin can get sacks but he needs to be in a defensive system with a defensive coordinator who can think out of the box a bit.
In 2019, Griffin played 312 combined snaps, but just 96 of those were defensive snaps; Most were on special teams. The 96 snaps Griffin played amounted to just 9 percent of the Seahawks total defensive snaps. Griffin had 3 quarterback hits and 2 hurries among the 96 snaps. Griffin’s 3 quarterback hits were tied for 7th on the team. Every other player who had as many quarterback hits had at least three-and-a-half times as many defensive snaps as Griffin.
In other words, if Griffin had played as many snaps as Ziggy Ansah had (338 and the next closest of Seattle’s top 9 pass rushers in 2019) then Griffin would have projected to having 11 quarterbacks hits. This would have ranked second on the team.
Griffin was even better in the playoffs. For instance, against the Packers Griffin played just 5 snaps, but he had a tackle-for-loss and a sack. Norton, Jr., though, didn’t even play Griffin on any defensive snaps until week 10 of the regular season. This is more of a knock on Norton, Jr. then Griffin.
I am not saying Shaquem Griffin is going to be a Pro Bowl player but he can be a valuable member of the Seahawks defense, especially when it comes to putting heat on opposing quarterbacks. Norton, Jr. just needs to use him correctly.
And this is another reason I would worry if the Seahawks took a player like Wisconsin’s Zack Baun with the team’s first pick. Norton, Jr. wouldn’t know how to use him well. To me, the problem isn’t Shaquem Griffin, it is Ken Norton, Jr. Griffin will probably end up with another team one day, like the Steelers, and get 8 sacks. But right now, he is being wasted in Seattle.