Shaquem Griffin was effectively benched Week 1 at Denver. Now with the signing of Mychal Kendricks and the impending return of K.J. Wright, what happens to Griffin's role? Also, what's up with C.J. Prosise? Bob Condotta answers that and more in his latest mailbag.
Should the Seahawks run no-huddle? Has Shaquem Griffin been benched and what role does he play now? And what’s up with C.J. Prosise?
Those are among the questions in this week’s Seahawks mailbag (each of these are questions I got multiple versions of via Twitter or e-mail and I’m just condensing/editing/merging the questions to try to touch all bases of the topic):
Q: It seems like the Seahawks have a lot of success when they go up-tempo/no-huddle? Why don’t they do more of that?
A: Seattle did indeed jumpstart its offense Monday in Chicago when it went uptempo, first doing so on two plays at the end of the first half on a drive that ended in a field goal, and then again for most of the fourth quarter, when the Seahawks had two long touchdown drives.
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For the game, the Seahawks ran 18 plays that were no-huddle, gaining 123 yards (which included Russell Wilson’s 19-yard TD pass to Tyler Lockett), an average of 6.8 yards per play. Seattle had 153 yards on its other 46 plays, an average of 3.3 per play.
Wilson was particularly effective in the no-huddle going 8-9 for 109 yards and a touchdown, a passer rating of 154.17 (if you’re wondering, the pick six he threw was not on a no-huddle play, nor was the final touchdown pass to Will Dissly). That’s a rating not far off what is a perfect rating, 158.3
For the rest of the game Wilson was 14-27 for 117 yards with a touchdown and an interception, a rating of 60.26.
Players noticed the difference, too.
“Every drive we’re looking to get some tempo going,’’ receiver Brandon Marshall said after the game. “We definitely used our up-pace offense and guys across the board made plays for us. We got to continue to build off of that. That’s one thing we can pull from.”
And coach Pete Carroll noticed, too, and seemed to hint on Wednesday the Seahawks will try to go up-tempo in the future rather than when it was just basically forced on them due to time and desperation, as was the case in Chicago.
“I think we’re at our best when we’re playing with good tempo or moving and really get Russ in that flow,’’ Carroll said. “That’s always when he’s been great and we’re going to continue to try to do that.’’
There are, of course, some caveats.
The Bears might argue that they were playing mostly not to give up the big play on those fourth-quarter drives, happy to let the Seahawks hunt and peck their way down the field a little bit and run off clock, especially the last 99-yarder — seven of Seattle’s 18 no-huddle plays came on that drive, gaining 59 yards, with Wilson going 4-4 for 55 yards (not counting two spikes).
There are also the challenges of the no-huddle that coaches cite as making it difficult to do it more than situationally unless it is the entire basis of your offense — it is physically taxing on players, especially linemen; if not successful it can resort in some really short drives in terms of real time and the defense having to go back on the field quickly; and the playbook is usually limited, both to make communication easier and also because of lack of substitutions. The challenge of the communication involved is often cited as one of the big reasons to not just go uptempo all the time — one receiver lined up wide not hearing the play correctly (plays in no-huddle situations often just have one or two words) can wreck everything.
I’d also imagine the Seahawks went in to Monday night’s game with concern about the defense and likely wanted to shorten the game in terms of overall possessions rather than lengthen it, which is often what happens with a no-huddle offense.
But desperate times require desperate measures, and as the Seahawks look for ways to get their offense going in what is basically a must-win game Sunday, maybe they’ll explore ways to go uptempo earlier and more often, as well.
Q: With Mychal Kendricks playing another week and K.J. Wright on his way back, what happens to Shaquem Griffin?
A: A subplot of Monday’s game is that Griffin was effectively benched after starting week one at Denver at weakside linebacker in place of Wright. Griffin had some early struggles in that game and shared time the last two-and-a-half quarters with Austin Calitro. Seattle then signed Kendricks and when they wanted to give him a limited package of plays because he had only three days of practice also devised a three-safety look in which Bradley McDougald basically played weakside linebacker.
All of that meant Griffin did not play a down on defense, though he was a regular on special teams, with 15 snaps — he’d had only six against Denver when it went into the game with a larger defensive role, seeming to indicate that for now the team sees his biggest value as being on special teams and not defense.
Wright figures to be back in a week or two to reclaim the WLB spot. It’s hard to know what is going to happen with Kendricks, but if he’s still around when Wright returns then you’d assume he becomes the backup there.
Could the Seahawks look to change Griffin’s position and maybe put him at safety? There’s been no evidence of that yet.
And given that the long-term outlooks of Wright — who is entering the final season of his contract with no indication there have been talks of an extension — and Kendricks are uncertain, the Seahawks may still feel Griffin can be the weakside linebacker of the future (though one interesting thought there is whether Calitro is suddenly a factor in that discussion, having impressed with his play at MLB last week and showing against Denver he can also play WLB).
Twin brother Shaquill Griffin hinted this week that it could be a good thing for Shaquem to have played some but now has some time to also watch and learn.
“Right now, he just needs to just relax a little bit more,’’ Shaquill Griffin said. “It’s some plays that he moved right past. Like, if you got to sit in the hook, he’ll be moving so fast and thinking so much that he’ll run right past it. It’s little stuff like that. Sometimes you kind of calm his mind down a little bit more. We know you got the speed, but sometimes you just got to think a little bit more instead of just running all over place. You just do your job, everything will fall into line as a defense. So, this whole thing was just, you got to feel comfortable. He knows his book, he knows his plays. He studied every day, he put extra time into it. He just has to feel it, he has to feel confident in himself and in the defense and know that it’s going to work. He just got to be relaxed and just let it happen.”
Q: I thought this would be C.J. Prosise’s breakout season especially after they talked about using him at receiver last week. But he hasn’t done much so far. What’s up with that?
A: Prosise actually was on the field quite a bit last week — his 18 snaps at tailback were in line with Rashaad Penny (20) and Chris Carson (19).
You are right that Carroll did say Prosise could be an option to be used as a receiver to help make up for the loss of Doug Baldwin. We didn’t see that against the Bears, though, as Prosise’s playing time was essentially limited to serving as the two-minute back on drives at the end of each half.
Prosise had his only statistics of the season so far on the last drive of the game, the 99-yarder, catching three passes for 22 yards. He does not have a carry yet this season.
His 25 overall snaps in two games are 20 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. So while that may not be the huge role once envisioned for him he at least has been on the field some and maybe his role will increase a bit more as the team keeps searching for ways to get the offense going.
Prosise has also been a regular on special teams — his 29 special teams snaps are the seventh-most on the team.