Can Hull Elevate His Play WHEN Jets Attack Him
Hull led the Dolphins in tackles, but wasn’t nearly as successful in coverage
Every Miami Dolphins fan loves Mike Hull–or they should. He’s been a surprise, a scrapper, and a life saver in a season where the thorough breed LB’s for Fins have suffered setbacks.
As a two-down backer, a key special teamer, and depth player, Hull is without a doubt a keeper… as a starting Nickel Back–not so much. Yet that’s exactly where he’ll be this Sunday against the New York Jets.
While he gave up 9 catches for 95 yards, Hull did lead the team in tackles against the Chargers with 7, proving he’s ‘no bum’. Hull’s just doing his best in a situation he shouldn’t be in.
For an ‘ole’ timer’ like me, it’s sort of sad to say, but football has changed. Today, even the great Zach Thomas would find difficulties in being an every down backer where it’s open space against speed, speed, and more speed.
Given the Jets tendency of attack so far this season, it doesn’t take a great price per head sportsbook to know there’s a high likelihood that they’ll target Hull. Question is, can he improve from last week?
First, after going over the Jets offensive game plan of Week 1 & 2, ‘gag-green’ loves Play Action and hitting the short middle over a biting MLB, inside draws, and working the short perimeter with backs and wides.
Hull is a gem of a find, but just not a cover LB
I kept seeing the plays in the film below and variations of them over and over in both of the Jets games. Expect to see a strong dose of them this week.
First, #45 isn’t going to get any faster or better in open space. So plays like below will be the rule with Hull in coverage.
But, there are areas where Hull can improve that will positively affects his production in pass defense. A few times in the Chargers game he suffered from slow diagnosis and play recognition, which caused hesitation. These flaws can be corrected by film study and reps.
Now I’m not saying Hull didn’t make plays in coverage… he did. When he saw and attacked he was at his best.
Finally, there’s the ‘trickeration plays’ of draws and screens, where Hull had a mixed bag of results. But these too can be tightened up and improved on… up to a point.
In the first play speed mixed with slow recognition gets him in trouble. The second play is improvement from last season and Preseason as Hull beats the block of a linemen. Again, in the third play we see his issue being both talent and cerebral, making this area 50% correctable. Hull bites on the hard count, and then remains shallow, instead of returning to his original depth. While he still has problems getting off blocks, this issues was compounded by his closeness to the LOS.
In the end, if Hull had reduced his coverage failures by 30% against the Chargers what would have been the effect? River would have been 27 of 39 for 300 yards with 2-3 first downs less… and maybe there wouldn’t have been a nail biter.
The good news is Hull can improve. Improve enough to be a Nickle back of the future? NO. But if he can just hold down the fort for a little longer, then he will have done his job and done it well. Go Fin!!!