The Jaguars offseason program officially ended last week, but that doesn’t mean the work will necessarily stop there.
Jaguars cornerback Shaquill Griffin has already seen the progress made by the team’s defense, and how the team uses its players to put them in the best position to succeed, especially at cornerback.
“I feel like it’s going to help me for sure, having the opportunity to change things up. So, you’re talking about a corner that’s able to move around, travel a little bit more, add some blitzes, whatever the case may be,” Griffin said earlier this month.
“I feel like when the coaches told us they want to find what works best for everybody and utilize that on the field so we all can accomplish the same goal, that’s winning. That’s the main thing, so when the coaches first told me that, it’s cool to see them hold that end of the bargain.”
During his time with Seattle from 2017-20, Griffin wasn’t tasked with moving around much. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus Griffing played 772 out of 773 of his outside cornerback snaps on the right side, while sliding into the slot just 54 total times.
Much of what Griffin was asked to do while with Seattle was due to the team’s scheme that places a heavy emphasis on Cover Three, or three-deep zone. The Seahawks also played their cornerbacks on “sides,” which is why Griffin played primarily on the right side of the defense, having to be responsible for that side of the field.
In Jacksonville, and under defensive coordinator Joe Cullen, that will be different. The team has placed a heavy emphasis on how it will use its players, and dictate its scheme based on the skillset of players rather than the other way around. Those changes have occurred not only within the team’s secondary, but with the rest of the defense, too, Griffin says.
“Understanding that my speed, my lift, being able to move around, it doesn’t matter what it is, they’re using that from the front end all the way to the back end, the DB’s [defensive backs],” Griffin explained. “Everybody’s using their strength and the coaches are seeing that and utilizing that. So, it’s going to be something special to really see and I’m excited for it.”
Limiting Griffin to a singular, or limited role, within a team’s defense would be doing the team and Griffin a major disservice. Coming out of college, Griffin posted some of the best athletic testing numbers by a defensive back.
His broad jump ranked in the 92nd percentile, posting a jump of 132 inches, while his 40-yard-dash (4.38 seconds) and vertical jump (38.5 inches) scores posted within the 92nd and 82nd percentiles, respectively.
While he doesn’t necessarily have the height (6-foot) and weight (198 pounds) that teams look for these days, his other attributes make up for it. His traits will let the team move him around, perhaps even allowing him to take some repetitions in the slot as Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey has done in the past.
Note: According to PFF, Humphrey played in the slot on 554 snaps, while playing outside on 420 snaps (115, left, 305, right).
While the team hadn’t gone full speed during OTAs and minicamp, Griffin has seen how his position group has played, knowing that if the team were to go full speed more plays would certainly be made within the secondary.
“When you go back to the meeting room and the coaches are telling you to slow down, that’s a good sign.”
While he’s only entering Year 5 in the NFL, Griffin is the team’s most senior cornerback, making him one of the team’s leaders on the backend. With the younger players surrounding him, Griffin makes an effort to share his advice in what he’s learned over the years.
“I feel like as a leader, the only thing I want to do is everything that I was taught, the people that put their arms around me going into my rookie year, I love that feeling, so that’s the part I’m trying to give to this team,” said Griffin.
“Whatever I know, what I continue to learn, I’m going to continue to preach it.”
The same goes for how he views himself as a constant learner, too. Griffin doesn’t shy away from asking for advice from his fellow teammates, even the younger ones.
“If we have the answers, we’re going to give it to them. If we don’t, we’ll go to [Coach Tim] Walton, we’ll talk to him for you, it doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, I love this group because everybody in this group wants to see everybody do [well],” he said.
While it’s early, the fact that there aren’t any selfish intentions among the defensive backs group is certainly a positive. Griffin has seen that first hand, and it’s something he loves about the group as a whole.
“So, it’s awesome, I love that room because everybody is willing to help each other, everybody is willing to be great. There’s no weaklings, so I love that part about our room.”
Everything is starting to come together, especially within the secondary, and the team’s coaches have a clear vision as to how they’ll use their players.