As much delight as the Seahawks drew Sunday from their 43-16 rout of the 49ers and Richard Sherman, something stood out like the first scratch on a new car — 386 passing yards allowed to third-string QB Nick Mullens.
CB Shaquill Griffin was candid about what he thought happened.
“I felt like we kinda let up,” he said. “We stopped the run, got up early, then let them have easy yards here and there. I don’t think we’ll let it happen again.
“From my end, it don’t look good.”
In fact, it looks worse heading into Monday game against the Minnesota Vikings, whose offense behind new QB Kirk Cousins can’t wait to light up the night against Seattle’s tender young secondary.
Cousins, master of the dink and dunk, has the third-most pass attempts in the NFL (491) and the second-highest completion rate (71.4), in part because the Vikings mostly throw short — the 7.1 yards per attempt is 22nd in the league. That also means interceptions are few — nine.
The Seahawks’ secondary has to find a way to disrupt, and Griffin is eager to participate. Because for much of Griffin’s second season, he has been quiet.
Asked if he has met his own expectations for the season, Griffin said, “Personally, no. I want to get my hands on the ball more. I feel like I’ve been playing safe lately, and I want to go back to the aggressive way I’m used to.”
Coach Pete Carroll also sounded like he wants more from Griffin.
“He’s played good, solid football,” he said. “He’s been out there the whole time for two years, and stuff is going to happen. It’s going to be hard at times and he’s been really consistent.
“He hasn’t been a problem to us, but there’s always more plays that you can make. I think he’s doing fine with it. But there’s stuff that we’re going to keep working on. He’ll be better in the next couple of years.”
Griffin has missed some tackles and has been out of position occasionally. And he no longer has Sherman to lean on. The other cornerback position is manned by a rookie, Tre Flowers, and second-year free safety Tedric Thompson has replaced Earl Thomas.
On-the-job training has been going on all season.
“We play a lot of young guys and they’ve been able to do it,” Carroll said. “But to really take advantage of it, it takes a couple of years, so you can start to understand situations and the opportunities that are presented.
“The technique part and playing consistently solidly, we can kind of get that done early. There’s a jump in there that can happen if the guys have it in their makeup to go and take advantage. But they’ll develop in time. They’re going to get better, they’re going to see things more.”
It would help the Seahawks if they got better by Monday, because Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are about the hottest receiving tandem in the NFL. Thielen leads the NFL in receptions (98) and is second in yardage (1,166). Diggs is sixth (84) and 2oth (839).
The need for some ballhawking by Griffin is numerically evident. He has been credited with just five passes defensed, and his two interceptions came in the same game, at Chicago.
The Seahawks have 12 interceptions, but three were by Thomas, who’s done for the season, and one each by DE Frank Clark and LB Bobby Wagner, the latter returning his pick last week 98 yards for a touchdown. It was Seattle’s first defensive score of the season.
The five DB starters have combined for seven picks: three by SS Bradley McDougald and two by Griffin, one each for Thompson and Justin Coleman. Flowers has yet to break his maiden.
Griffin also lamented the missed tackles in the secondary against the 49ers, including one by Flowers that turned a 20-yard reception by Dante Pettis into a 75-yard touchdown.
“We were out of place, but we still gotta make that tackle,” he said. “Receivers get paid to catch the ball, but we gotta stop them. I haven’t seen a game where receivers had zero catches, but we gotta tackle them. We had nine or 10 missed tackles. That’s not like us. That’s another part of letting up.”
In a team meeting this week, Griffin said that he spoke up about wanting to play more man to man coverage.
“We haven’t run as much man as we used to do, which is fine, because it helps our defense,” he said. “But I mentioned I wanted to go back to man with a chance to go against Diggs and Adam Thielen, great receivers I want to be in competition with.
“Last year we had Sherm and played really aggressive, and that’s what I’m used to. I mentioned it for the game plan.”
The Vikings make it hard because they go deep only occasionally.
“They try to get it out quick, so we’ll cover them tight,” he said. “We always are focused in taking away the deep ball, but we gotta take away the itty-bitty passes.
“We got some nice stuff cookin’ up to get the ball in our hands. I’m really excited about this game plan. I think I might get a chance to get my hands on some balls.”
Monday night is always a good time to showcase, particularly if you are eager to avoid being remembered for letting up to get lit up by Nick Mullens.
This one will be tough to try and get picks , but Griffin is probably right that they might wanna play more man and less zone against the Vikings . They have almost a West Coast offense with quick slants and posts and curls , and if you’re in zone and having to pass off the receiver , that’ll leave spaces between the zones they can exploit . Thielen looks terrific , and the fact he pissed off Belichick endears him to me that much more .
BUT … once again , the best way to stifle an electric offense is to not let them have the ball by rushing frequently and eating the clock . Carson/Davis/Penny et al ( welcome back Mr. McKissic ) need big games . This should be a close one , but we’re home and the team knows if they win this , they’re a virtual lock for the playoffs .
Seahawks 24 – Vikings 17
And it’s Monday night, Carroll’s favorite night of the week. He’s 7-2, and Seahawls are 23-10 all time, best in the NFL.
Good article, Art. I have expected the D to be more together by now, Bobby can’t do everything, though he seems to be trying. The quotes by Griffin are telling . . .
Griffin knows the heat’s on him. Experience is the only cure.
Thanks Art! Yet another learning point for this young team – Don’t let up when you have the game in hand. It’s fighting human nature, but champions know how to never let up.
Every game has shown improvements in one area or another. The loose ends are getting shored-up. Yes, this would be a great time for improvements in the secondary. In contrast to the 49er game, it needs to be noticeable, which will be hard considering the opposing talent. GO HAWKS!
Many fans wants instant cures for shortfalls. Takes time, especially in an era that has greatly reduced contact during practice and preseason.
I was just reading the Daily Norseman and they seem pretty confident that at least according to PFF the Vikings should dominate the Seahawks. They threw some serious shade at our offensive line. I’m hoping they read it. They weren’t particularly impressed with our defense either saying all we had was Bobby Wagner. I am worried about Thielen and Diggs but like Griffin said the receivers are going to do what they do and they will catch some balls. It’s all about containment. The Seahawks offensive line needs to put on a show, run the ball and keep those other guys watching from the sidelines.
The Seahawks’ past two games have demonstrated an offensive balance that suggests defenses overload at their peril. Viking DLs Richardson and Johnson are ready to deal payback for being snubbed by Seattle, but that only goes so far.
But the Wagner description isn’t far off, especially without Wright.
I noticed against the 49ers the defense was playing in a “read and react” mode instead of a “rush and attack” kind of defense that we’re used to. When you play like that a good QB can juke or fake a defender to bite on a play and then go another direction. It’s the way the defense played in Coach Holmgen’s last season. Maybe the defense doesn’t have the kind of personnel for that but I agree with Griffin that he’s been in safe mode and IMO the defense as a whole tends to go in that direction more often than not. They need to get that LOB swagger back. Heck, the kind that Steve Largent had after he nailed Mike Harden. THAT kind of swagger.
Young players are very conscious about mistake-avoidance. It takes time to develop swagger, of trusting instincts based on experience.
I thought Griffin was going there in his 2 interceptions game, especially when he postured in front of the camera, but he seemed to go into safe-mode after that game.
Playing CB in Seahawks D asks a lot for the kids.
Cousins will dink a few times, set Griffin, et all up and then go over the top. Sounds like a complete setup and I sure hope our DB’s and safety are up to this. We need this W, big time, because with it, and 2 W’s against the Cards and SF, 10 wins is MUCH better than 9.
Also, they are getting a reality check now that TWO HOF players in Sherm and Thomas are not there to truly handle things. They are on their own now and it is “Brave New World” time.
Having to fill in for all 3 Legion guys at once is a ridiculous ask. But here we are.