Griffin, who snagged two interceptions against the Bears last week, still keeps in contact with the outspoken former Seahawks' cornerback.
Shaquill Griffin wants to tell you about his brother.
No, not Shaquem.
The Seahawks’ second-year starter is talking about Richard Sherman, the outspoken corner who spent seven seasons in Seattle before being released by the team this offseason and signing with the rival San Francisco 49ers. He’s talking about a former teammate whose advice and mentorship continues to pay dividends.
He’s talking about a relationship that transcends a divisional rivalry.
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“No, I don’t think about it that way,” Shaquill said on Wednesday, when asked if he’d be hesitant to reach out to a member of a division rival. “He’s a brother to me. So when I call him and text him, I’m calling an older brother. That’s how I look at it. The way he helped me, he helped me as in, ‘I’m helping my little brother.’
“So, the rival thing, that’s not something we think about. It’s just, he’s such a down-to-earth person, he’s willing to help anyone who needs it. That’s awesome to have a person like that. We need more people like that, period, that’s willing to help anybody. We don’t think about it. He’s just an older brother to me.”
Shaquill turned to his older brother often in a rookie season that included 15 games, 11 starts, 59 tackles and an interception. Those teaching points — specifically, the need to turn his head and locate the football in the air — have already yielded production (and two picks against the Bears) in 2018.
Sherman may be gone, but the mentorship continues.
“Everything he taught me last year, I’ve continued to use,” Griffin said. “If it was something that he was teaching me, I’m going to continue to use (it) for the rest of my life. As a mentor, I feel like that’s one of the best mentors you can ever have and I’m definitely grateful for that.”
Griffin is grateful, also, for the organization’s overt faith in his present and future. During the offseason Pete Carroll and Co. moved the 6-foot, 198-pound athlete to the prized left cornerback position.
Also known as Richard Sherman’s old spot.
“It meant a lot actually, because I felt like that means they have a sense of trust in me to take that role, especially being that’s Richard Sherman’s spot and (with) everything that he’s done here in this organization,” Griffin said. “That means they had a sense of trust in me to take over that role and kind of pick up where he left off.
“So it felt good to have that feeling and see that the coaches and this organization have trust in me and how they feel about me by moving me in that position. I’m going to do the best I can to continue to keep that train going in that left-side corner (position) and do whatever I can to help this team win.”
Granted, the Seahawks haven’t won yet in 2018. But that isn’t because of Griffin. On the heels of a standout rookie season, the Central Florida product has compiled 10 tackles in his first two games, and added acrobatic interceptions in back-to-back drives against the Bears last Monday.
In an otherwise erratic, injured defense, Griffin has consistently delivered.
“He’s off to another really good start,” Carroll said this week. “He had a terrific rookie season. You can check the numbers any way you want to check them. He had a really good rookie season, so how does he respond to come back? He played well throughout the preseason. He’s just played the same every time he goes out.
“He’s got a consistency about him and he’s really gifted because he’s so fast and he’s athletic and all the rest, and he’s tough.”
Added first-year Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.: “You can see he’s a guy that really understands the corner play. He knows how to go up and get the ball. He’s really fast. He understands his technique. There’s no limit for how good he can be.”
Griffin may be able to push those limits in the Seahawks’ home opener Sunday against a Dallas attack that ranks 26th in the NFL in passing offense (196.3 yards per game) and yards per catch (10.8) and 21st in yards per attempt (6.7). Add that to the fact that the Cowboys’ most consistent target, wide receiver Cole Beasley, is questionable to play with an ankle injury.
Through two games, the Seahawks’ secondary ranks third in the NFL in defensive yards per attempt (6.5), sixth in passing defense (209.2 yards allowed per game), eighth in opponent passer rating (79.1) and 14th in yards per catch allowed (11.1).
Without Sherman — who, by the way, leads the NFL with just one catch allowed in 99 coverage snaps, according to Pro Football Focus — Griffin will line up opposite of rookie cornerback Tre Flowers, who’s preparing to make just his second career start.
Now, it’s Griffin’s turn to be a big brother for someone else.
“We’re far from where we want to be, and we’re going to get there,” Griffin said. “I can’t wait to see what type of plays we really can make and how good we really can be. That’s something that we’re looking forward to and we’re working so hard to get to. We’ve got the right group of guys here to do that.”