Shaquill Griffin came into the 2019 season disappointed with how he played the previous season. Having reshaped his body and changed his mindset in the offseason, the Seahawks cornerback responded to what he felt was a subpar season by putting together a Pro-Bowl season in 2019.
Griffin doesn't come into this year's camp feeling like he needs to make changes as drastic as he made a year ago, but that doesn't mean he isn't planning on improving in 2020 after appearing in his first Pro Bowl last winter. Most notably, Griffin wants to turn some of his pass breakups into interceptions. Griffin had a team-high 13 passes defensed last season, his second time leading the team in that statistical category in three seasons (he had a team-high 15 as a rookie in 2017), but he also went without an interception last year and had only three in his first two seasons.
"Being more consistent with my press technique, and then getting the ball," Griffin said of his goals for this season. "I feel like last year I got my hands on a lot of balls where I was just able to punch it out, but now I want to get to a point where the same passes I'm breaking up, I'm catching them. I'm not dropping them, just making you know the most out of my opportunity, so when the ball comes, I need to be able to catch it. I can't even tell you how many passes and balls I caught all this offseason, and I'm hoping it shows… It's cool to have over 15 pass breakups, but if you have 15 pass breakups and maybe four or five interceptions, that's a really good year. So I just want to get the ball in my hands. If I can do that, I know for a fact getting that ball back in (Russell Wilson's) hands, he's going to do something special."
If Griffin can continue to improve his game, that would be just another reason to be excited about a secondary that added Quandre Diggs in a midseason trade last year, and that acquired Quinton Dunbar and Jamal Adams in trades this offseason.
"We got some cool pieces added on to it—Quinton Dunbar, Jamal Adams, some pieces that are going to change our defense in the long run. And we still got some great guys here, me, Quandre Diggs, Marquise Blair, Tre Flowers, you got Neiko Thorpe, we got so many great guys to kind of just wrap this around. We've been looking for the best secondary, and I feel that we finally have that, and that's the cool thing to say. We're still working with each other, learning each other and it's a cool process to be a part of."
Griffin has been particularly impressed with what he has seen so far from Adams, a two-time All-Pro and Pro-Bowler with the Jets who was added in a trade last month. Camp is just getting going and Adams hasn't been able to show everything he's capable of from a physical standpoint, but he has still made his presence felt.
"It's a different type of energy when it comes to Jamal," Griffin said. "Me and Quandre were talking about the other day, you have to be ready to come play with Jamal, because he's a different type of vibe, different type of energy, he's always want to be ready. So as a defense, as a secondary, we all want to be able to match that. So we were talking about that, which is really cool."
Another reason Griffin is excited about the secondary beyond the offseason additions is the expected jump he expects to see from cornerback Tre Flowers in 2020. Like Griffin, Flowers started as a rookie and showed a lot of promise, and like Griffin, Flowers didn't make the type of Year 2 jump he and the team were hoping for. Griffin can relate to that, as well as the feeling of ending the season with a performance that leaves something to be desired.
"I feel like he was very productive last year, more than people would like to bring up, but when you leave a game, the last game of the season, you leave a bad taste in your mouth, so I totally understand, because the main thing people say about Tre is the last game—Green Bay, that's the first thing everybody brings up," Griffin said. "That's why he's so eager, because the only thing he knows is he knows is that last game was what really people was thinking about. I think about the four interceptions that he had, all the tackles he had, the pass deflections that he had—he had a lot of production, but people aren't bringing that up because of what he did in Green Bay. So he's eager to make up for that. And I've felt that before, because you talked about my second year, leaving Dallas, it was a bad taste in everybody's mouth. Came back the next year, showed my worth, and now I've got to continue to build off of that. So I know that feeling of, dang, I've just got to get back out there. I know he's anxious, it's going to happen. As the person he is, the person who loves to compete, the person who loves to win, no one wants to feel like that for offseason this long. It's for anybody. So he's going be a different player. And actually this offseason, I went to go train with Tre personally. We got with that DB culture, just me and him, and he is a different person. I already know this; I'm excited for you guys to see it, he's going to be a different ballplayer, I can tell you that much."
A look back at some of the best photos of Seahawks corner Shaquill Griffin from the 2019 season.