As a collective, the Seattle Seahawks were porous at best in pass coverage in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Andy Dalton carved up Seattle's secondary for 418 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 106.5.
But Shaquill Griffin was a noticeable bright spot. The third-year corner posted three tackles and one pass breakup and earned a 76 grade from Pro Football Focus. Griffin looked sharp, and Dalton spent most of the game throwing to the other side of the field towards Tre Flowers.
"I was very comfortable. That's the main thing I was looking for coming back in Week 1," Griffin said. "I wanted to play with instincts, not robotic."
Griffin's endurance was also notable. Fatigue had been an issue in previous years, but not so against the Bengals. He credits his offseason weight loss for that added stamina. Griffin said he played last season at 212 pounds. He's since dropped 18 pounds and is now playing at 194.
"Losing all that weight definitely made a big difference," Griffin said. "Everything I do now is a lot easier to do – getting into my (back) pedal or coming out of my breaks."
Corners don't get the benefit of being in a rotation like receivers. Offenses are always throwing fresh legs at a secondary, which is what prompted Griffin to slim up during the offseason.
"You need to be able to cover someone deep and then run back (to the line of scrimmage) and do it all again," Griffin said.
He showcased that ability in the second half against the Bengals. Griffin kept up with speedy wideout John Ross deep down the right sideline. He made a diving pass breakup and then hustled back for the next play. An offsides penalty negated the highlight-reel pass breakup, but it still illustrated what Griffin was talking about nonetheless.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, there weren't enough plays made in the secondary in Week 1. Notably, Tedric Thompson mistimed his jump late in the first half and allowed a 55-yard touchdown to Ross. In the second half, Flowers committed a costly pass interference penalty in the red zone. In both instances, each player was in the right position to make a play, but they got overeager rather than trusting their technique.
"We all have to be calm. We let some things get behind us, but all those things are fixable," Griffin said. "It's little things that we made mistakes on that we can fix ourselves. It's an easy fix. We just have to be more comfortable and play calm. We need to stay within our rules and make the plays we need to make."
Griffin did suggest that Seattle's defense may go back to more normal rotations and personnel packages in Week 2. The Seahawks stayed in base defense more than normal last Sunday because of the unknowns surrounding Zac Taylor's offense with the Bengals.
We could see more nickel against the Steelers as the secondary will attempt to keep Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith-Schuster and the rest of the Pittsburgh's potent passing attack at bay.