After a promising rookie campaign in 2017, Shaquill Griffin moved from right cornerback to left corner, taking over the spot previously held by Richard Sherman. And while Griffin had a solid second season, he didn't live up to his own expectations, leading to a couple of changes this offseason.
For starters, Griffin is 12 pounds lighter, and the weight loss is noticeable at a quick glance, but what might be more important is the changed mental approach the former third-round pick is bringing into this season.
"Last year was just an average year, and being a No. 1 corner, I can't have average years; I've got to be a guy they can continue to look up to and be able to continue to count on to make the big splash plays when it's needed, and I've got to be that guy," Griffin said following Seattle's ninth and final session of organized team activities. "I've got to be more than just good, I've got to be more than just great, I've got to be elite and I've got to be that type of guy they can count on. Last year was just an average year, and I hold myself to a higher standard. I've got a different mindset than I did last year. The maturity level has changed, and I learned a lot more—just becoming a better person and better man before I can change my game. My mindset is totally different this year."
The move from right to left cornerback isn't necessarily a big one in terms of what the two positions demand of a player, but Griffin let the fact that he was replacing an All-Pro cornerback get into his head a bit last year and affect how he approached the game.
"I just think I had the wrong mindset coming into it," he said. "I felt like I put too much pressure on myself going to who was there before me. It got to the point where I know I'm taking over this spot from the guy who was just here, let me make sure I have just as many picks, make sure I have just as many good plays, just as many pass breakups. That's the type of mindset I came in with, it was all about accolades and stats, and it's not about that. It's about helping this team win in any type of way that you can, being a better teammate to become a better player.
"So the mindset is totally different now. It's not about just the accolades and stats, it's about doing whatever it takes to help this team win, because at the end of the day, they brought me here to help this team win. That's what I'm going to get back to, I want to get back to winning and bring a championship back home to where it needs to be. So that's the type of mindset I'm coming into it with, the maturity level has changed, and I want to be that guy they can count on, and I will be that guy they can count on."
Griffin didn't need a coach or other mentor-like figure in his life to tell him that his mentality was off in 2018; he discovered that on his own after the season while reflecting on what he considered to be a subpar year.
"It's something that hit me myself," he said. "After the season, you take a couple weeks off and kind of just evaluate everything that happened that year, and you try to figure out what went wrong, what you did wrong, and I felt like my mindset wasn't right. So I felt like I had to become a better person, a better man when it comes to my life and everything I have done and will do. I had to figure that part out myself, so when it came to the way I was thinking, it was all about, 'Oh, make this play, get these stats, get these accolades.' I felt like that's what was important, and that's never true. As a team and as a player, it's about winning, and if you're only thinking about yourself, you're thinking about the wrong thing. You should be thinking about the team first, and that's the mindset. That's what I had to figure out this offseason."
Part of Griffin's process of discovering this new mindset was watching tape of Seattle's Super Bowl winning defense that in 2013 led the NFL in scoring defense, total defense, passing defense and takeaways before eventually dominating the highest-scoring offense in NFL history in Super Bowl XLVIII. It wasn't just how talented that playmaking secondary was that caught Griffin's attention, but also the way those players approached the game.
"It's kind of cool to see the type of environment they created in 2013, see the way guys played with each other," Griffin said. "Sometimes you've got to go back to your roots to see how they did things. So I had some of the DBs download that tape to see how the 2013 defense played, the way they cared for each other, the way they played for each other, the way they celebrated, and it kind of opened people's eyes to the things we want to be at, the things we want to get back to. So we're back into it. Everybody's excited, everybody's buying into it. Sometimes you've got to figure out where you came from so you can get back to it."
And Griffin didn't just watch those 2013 games on his own, he also suggested the rest of his fellow defensive backs do the same.
"If you want to be a vet, you want to see how to win—those guys knew how to do both, be pros and know how to win games and do it the correct way, and enjoy doing it with each other," Griffin said. "Sometimes you've got to go back to your past and see how things were run here. You want to get back to being a Super Bowl-caliber team, you've got to see how the Super Bowl teams did it. And those guys in 2013, they did it right, they did it correct. If you want to get back to that spot, you've got to see it from the right people who were doing it. While we have time, just watch it, look at your position, see how they did it, see what they did wrong, see what they did right, see how they corrected. At the end of the day, they all had fun beating up on teams, and we've got to be able to enjoy that with each other. I felt like that was the best advice I could give, just to see how things were done when it came to teams winning, winning the Super Bowl and doing it right."
As for the physical changes, Griffin said he is currently 194 pounds, about the same weight he carried in 2017 coming into his rookie year. He and his twin brother Shaquem have a chef preparing meals for them this year—though Shaquem is focused on gaining weight rather than losing it—and Shaquill said he feels better than ever having cleaned up his diet and slimmed down a bit.
"Just eating the right things," he said of his weight loss. "Last year I feel like I was just kind of eating whatever I could just being young. Just kind of whatever came to mind is what I ate. Now I'm focusing more on what to put in my body that's going to fuel me, that's going to help me in the future. We got a chef this offseason, eating the right things, working out daily, just focusing on the things we have to focus on to adjust our body types. Just leaning up, getting rid of the weight that wasn't needed anymore. So I lost about 12 pounds, and I'm feeling fast now… I'm about 194 right about now. I'm feeling good. I think I came in about that same weight my rookie year, between 194, 198. That's kind of what I want to play at, I want to stay fast. I'm stronger than I was last year at this weight, so I'm feeling pretty good."
Losing that weight meant cutting out some of his favorite meals, including wings and burgers, but his current diet does allow for one cheat meal per week, usually on Friday or Saturday. Following Thursday's practice, Griffin's first order of business was to discuss this week's cheat meal with Shaquem.
"We get one cheat meal—not a cheat day—one cheat meal, either Friday or Saturday, and it's so tough to figure out what I'm going to eat on that cheat meal," Griffin said at the end of his press conference. "I don't know if I want wings and cheesecake, cheeseburger with fries, I just don't know. Actually, I think me and my brother are going to have discussion right now after I finish this to figure out what we're going to eat this weekend, so I'm excited."
Photos from the Seattle Seahawks' ninth and final session of organized team activities held on Thursday, June 6 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.