RENTON — When it became clear Bradley McDougald was going to be the Seattle Seahawks’ starting strong safety the rest of the season, he immediately started figuring out ways to pick up whatever tips and suggestions he could from Kam Chancellor.
The same is true of rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin, who’s been asked to take on more responsibility since the loss of Richard Sherman.
“That’s the role I’m trying to pick up on and (Sherman) is continuing to help me every day,” Griffin said. “He calls me before games and after games so I can get his insights on the game. I’m taking it upon myself to take care of that role the correct way. I feel like I’m doing a pretty decent job with it and I’m only going to get better from here.”
While the Seahawks may be without two of their defensive stars, Chancellor and Sherman are in the ear of their replacements in the hopes there isn’t much of a drop off. The Seahawks passed their first major test playing without the pair two weeks ago in an impressive 24-10 win over Philadelphia, but stumbled last week in a 30-24 loss to Jacksonville.
It doesn’t get easier this week with the NFC West-leading Rams visiting, bringing the No. 2 scoring offense in the NFL. A loss could put a significant damper on Seattle’s playoff hopes.
“I think guys are more eager,” McDougald said. “I mean this is a big time game.”
During its current run of success, Seattle has never faced the kinds of key losses that it has this year. None are bigger than the absences of Chancellor (neck) and Sherman (Achilles) because of the way the Seahawks defense is based around their secondary. McDougald learned that quickly after arriving in the offseason on a one-year deal. He filled in for Earl Thomas for two games at free safety earlier in the season before shifting over and taking Chancellor’s spot.
Whether it’s meeting at the facility, going over to Chancellor’s house or exchanging texts, McDougald’s been trying to absorb all he can when he can.
“He is the type of player that can explain the game as a coach,” McDougald said. “It’s different for somebody that has actually been in the position and actually been in the shoes. A lot of players can’t really coach the next player behind them at their position because they just go out there and do it. It’s instinct. But Kam knows the game. He is really a student and he does a great job of breaking it down and telling me where my eyes need to be and just helping me play faster.”
The same is true of the relationship between Griffin and Sherman. When Griffin was selected in the third round of the draft, Seattle was hopeful he’d eventually develop into a starter. Griffin impressed from the outset, especially after being targeted early in the season as opponents avoided throwing at Sherman.
That was his initial education. Now it’s coming in the form of texts and conversations with Sherman as his rookie season has progressed.
“The hardest thing for me coming in was understanding the different types of situations I was going to be in and what to do and how to act,” Griffin said. “That’s the main thing he helped me with. This last game … it’s hard. You learn from it and it’s stuff everybody goes through. He kind of helped me through stuff like that. I’m learning from it. And the thing is I learn quickly so it’s good to have him beside me to help.”