BY Art Thiel 06:25PM 09/13/2017

Thiel: Seahawks’ Griffin knows about storms

Rookie CB Shaquill Griffin had a substantial debut in the pressure-cooker of Lambeau Field/Aaron Rodgers. His cool comes in part from knowing how to deal with big storms.

The longest pass caught on rookie CB Shaquill Griffin Sunday in Green Bay was 13 yards. / Seahawks.com

Lost in the lamentations over a kitten-soft offensive line Sunday was the fact that, despite the absence of a veteran cornerback and the presence of a rookie, the Seahawks defense  pitched a first-half shutout against QB Aaron Rodgers, a first for him in 13 NFL seasons.

Given that the Packers rung up 38 points on Seattle in December, holding them to 17 for the game was akin to denying the Kraken a pirate ship. No one has seen such a thing.

“It was hard for (the Packers) to get in position to make a touchdown,” coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday as practice began for the home opener Sunday against San Francisco (1:25 p.m., Fox). “They couldn’t get done in there. We gave them one from the five, but we made it very difficult on a really good offense and a really good quarterback.”

The degree of Seahawks difficulty went up in the first quarter when the starter, Jeremy Lane, was ejected for throwing a punch during an interception return that to this moment no one has seen except for the referee who called it.

The ejection advanced Griffin from the nickel spot to the primary target of Rodgers, who shudders at throwing to the side of Richard Sherman but savors humiliating rookies.

It didn’t work much, partly because Griffin, who played 77 of 82 snaps, proved himself an instant adopter of the defense’s Prime Directive:

“First off, protect (against) the deep ball,” he said before practice. “It’s not too often there’s a game with no catches. You may give up a six- or eight-yard gain. You live with that.”

That helps explain how WR Randall Cobb hauled in nine catches, but only for 84 yards. The Packers’ only pass that went beyond 30 yards was the 32-yard touchdown to WR Jordy Nelson on a free play that came after a Seahawks penalty for having a 12th player.

Griffin, a third-round pick from Central Florida, lived up to the high expectations offered from the coaches since he was drafted. On the road at Lambeau Field against one of the NFL’s all-time great QBs, Griffin did not blink, flinch, heave or list. The longest pass caught on him was 13 yards.

“He had a very solid game for his first time, and it wasn’t that they didn’t know he was there,” Carroll said. “They went after him and he held up quite well. He’s calm and clear. He’s making sense of what we’re talking about. Sometimes guys get a little wacky, but he was not at all like that.

“I checked in with him a few times. He was very poised about how things were going and how it felt it to be playing in a big-time game in the NFL for the first time. He’s really just an impressive kid.”

Told of Carroll’s remarks, Griffin smiled, something he does a lot.

“I enjoy the game — it’s not something I over-think,” he said. “He speaks to me, and I’ll be smiling or laughing. I love playing the game, and I take it to the field.”

Much of Griffin’s calm comes from preparation. He’s an intense student of game film, including quarterbacks as well as receivers. He even takes copious notes, using old-school pen and paper. Imagine.

“It’s kinda hard to remember all that,” he said. “The more I see, the more I write down, the more I remember.”

So 20th century. But so effective.

He said the passion for preparation also comes from his father, who offered his son another example over the weekend. The family home in St. Petersburg, FL., was blasted by Hurricane Irma. Fortunately, damage was minimal and there were neither injuries nor flooding because the storm had diminished from a category four to a two.

“During the storm, he said, ‘At the end of the day, I would do whatever it takes to make sure my family is safe. If this happens, I do this. If that happens, I do that.'” Griffin said. “He planned for it. He thinks about it before it happens. The main thing he told me was, you can’t panic. I think that’s where I get it from.”

The family penchant for cool was also his counter-move to the auspiciousness of playing his first NFL regular-season game in the citadel of Lambeau Field.

“I thought about it when we first got there,” he said. “I got a chance to look at the field and it was crazy, just being in that facility. It was perfect. Ultimate experience.

“But I know I can’t let the stage get too big for me.”

If Griffin fails to cringe at renegade cheeseheadery, the world likely is his.

Griffin, Sherman, Wright, Garvin on injury report

Although he played the entire game, Griffin was on the injury report with a concussion Wednesday. He never mentioned when or how he was struck, and didn’t participate in practice.

Also on the report as sitting out were CB Richard Sherman (hamstring) and two linebackers, K.J. Wright (ankle) and Terence Garvin (shoulder). Another linebacker, Michael Wilhoite, was listed as limited with a calf injury that kept him out of the opener.


YourThoughts

  • Steed

    So the promising rookie already has his first NFL concussion. Ugg.

    The defense was excellent. If they average allowing only 17 a game they will be right at the top in that stat again. They played even better than allowing17 indicates. Considering the offense didn’t help, and even gave the packers a point blank TD chance. I Love the Seahawks defense.

    Art, did the NFL come out and say they were wrong about the “punch”? Did they at least fine the other guy? You know how they issue fines during the week after looking at the games. Those stupid calls were stupid, I hope the NFL admits it.

    • art thiel

      “Stupid calls were stupid.” I like that. May have to steal it.

      No word yet on any fines from the game, and there’s guaranteed to be no words of culpability from the NFL on blown calls.

  • ll9956

    Like Steed, I’m super curious about what the NFL said about the three bad calls: 1) the no-call on pass interference on Jimmy Graham, 2) the penalty for a fictitious block in the back by Cliff Avril and 3) the improper ejection of Jeremy Lane. Those almost certainly changed the outcome of the game.

    I wonder what would happen if PC told the NFL that the Seahawks would refuse to play in any future game in which John Parry and his crew officiated. I suspect they would tell him to take a flying leap.

    • art thiel

      I suspect you’re right.

      The league comes down hard on coaches whose critical comments regarding officiating undercuts the league’s credibility with fans. Your curiosity is understandable, but the NFL has no interest in satisfying it.

  • Bruce McDermott

    I am also curious, about another topic. These “briefings” from Cable are getting surreal, at least to me. He says the same damn things, over and over again, and has for years now. The line lacks “consistency.” We were “better in the second half,” when in reality that line was abysmal all game long. We need to “run the ball more,” when each run is an exercise in line incompetence, and decent yards come only from a scramble or the odd cutback far away from any hole the line was supposed to create (even in a zone block scheme). Surely this Emperor has no clothes at this point? Who will be the little kid among reporters to say to these coaches: “hey, that dude’s naked!!”?

    Doing better against San Francisco, if we do, will mean little, yet I can flat-out guarantee that any such improvement will be trumpeted as proof of the scheme and the players, and just the first sign of an emerging juggernaut of a line. Or at least an emerging mediocre line just good enough to keep us in the hunt until the valiant defense collapses from averaging 40 minutes and 87 plays per game. If Pete has a blind spot, at least in public comment, this is surely it. How many times does the reality of performance have to “disappoint” stated expectations before something changes?

    What’s already clear is that “Tell the Truth Monday” in no way extends beyond the locker room. The bs shoveled to reporters on that day, not to mention Wednesday, was truly mountainous.

    • Steed

      I’m not convinced coaching is the problem, I think it’s talent. And I don’t know anything about the NFL, I just have opinions.

      Consider the possibility that it is coaching that has the line playing well in those few instances when they do play well. Maybe it would actually be worse with another coach.

      I know some fans also like to blame Cable for who they draft. If you look at pictures on draft day, Cable is not sitting in the front row. Pete and John get credit/blame for the picks, even if Cable gets to make suggestions.

      • art thiel

        I would agree that talent almost always prevails. Coaching might close the gap between an average player and his highest potential. And I’m going to guess that at least 25 teams have similar O-line problems. The college game has changed so much that line draftees need basic training in the pro game for at least a year, if not two.

    • art thiel

      I can’t argue with the assessment, Bruce, but I can name 31 other NFL teams where it is worse.

      Rarely is there virtue for coaches in public honesty, because when hard times come, their candid words will help them get fired quicker.

      Coaches regard media obligations as a nuisance at best and a threat at worst. Carroll at least speaks in complete, often florid, sentences, and makes all of his assistants available upon request. He might be the only coach who barely enjoys some of the give and take.

      The fact that coaches rely on cliches, bromides, repetition and obfuscation is because it’s the least-dangerous way to get to the end of the session. Unlike the courtrooms where you work, truth is not an aspiration among pro and college coaches.

  • tor5

    That’s a cool story, Art. Looks like Pete pretty much has his dream defense. Check. Now he just needs the grinding offense that he likes. I’m trying not to panic… give the big kids up front a few games to really show us they’re better. I’m really trying….(!!!)

    • art thiel

      Carroll’s teams usually, but not always, started slowly. I don’t think many expected a win in GB in the opener, and in fact, they were a couple of plays from pulling it off.