Micah Hyde is one of the NFL’s best defensive playmakers

Game Film, Gif Breakdowns, NFL

Mansur Shaheen

Micah Hyde may have been one of the most underrated signings of the 2017 free agency period. The former Green Bay Packers safety joined the Buffalo Bills on a five year deal worth just over $30 million.  The safety lived up to his billing and was the best player on a Bills defense that carried the franchise to their first playoff appearance in this millennium.

Hyde was a versatile piece on Buffalo’s defense. He took snaps as a nickel corner, box safety and even as a single high safety in some situations. He had a career high five interceptions last season and emerged as an elite playmaker at the second level of the defense.

Whether he is lined up in the box, as a single high or nickel Hyde’s greatest attributes are his ability to quickly identify what the offense is doing, his quick reaction time and quick speed. These skills combined make him very effective against the run as he can quickly read the running back and come flying up field to stop the play.

His playmaking ability also made him a monster in zone coverage. He could drop back into a deeper zone and read the field in front of him. Even when he was playing well off the line of scrimmage he still had the speed and reaction time necessary to come upfield and blow up plays in shallower zones. This allowed his linebackers a greater margin for error and made route concepts that would punish teams by running routes underneath coverage less effective.

Hyde’s reaction time and high football IQ were also responsible for what was the arguably the most impressive play that he made last season.

The safety dominated that game against the Atlanta Falcons, one of the major upsets the team pulled off last season that were crucial to their eventual playoff bid. He was great against both the pass and the run. His excellent processing skills and great decision making mean that the Bills can trust him playing single high like he was in the above play.

How the Bills defense beat Matt Ryan and the Falcons

While his decision making is usually great he is sometimes liable to overrun plays and let runners get behind him. This is especially an issue against the run at times.

When coming downfield that fast it is easy to misjudge your angle of approach and find yourself whiffing on a potential tackle. While it may seem like it’d be a good idea to tell Hyde to slow down at times, the occasional whiff on these plays are an occasional tradeoff for the crazy gap stuffing plays he does make coming up the field that quickly.

Vision and high football IQ make Hyde a great player in zone coverage, but his man coverage skills leave things to be desired when forced to cover receivers man to man.

His footwork and agility is not good enough to keep up with the route running prowess of some of the league’s better receivers, and teams can create mismatches if they can put personnel on the field that forces him to go against a quick footed receiver that can beat him with a well run route. Keenan Allen of the Los Angeles Chargers gave him a lot of trouble last season.

While Hyde is a hard hitter, he is not very physically imposing, and he had a lot of trouble with the Patriots Rob Gronkowski in their two match ups last season.

He occasionally did manage to punch above his weight, though. When he was well positioned he had the ability to land huge hits on bigger receivers and jar the ball loose.

The full twitter thread which contains all of these videos and more 

Hyde provides the Buffalo Bills with everything they could ask for. He can start as a conventional strong or free safety and even in a nickel role for them. The Iowa product was one of the best safeties in the league last season and the hard hitting playmaker did not get the attention he deserved from the national media

Buffalo as a team may struggle this season but Hyde, star sophomore corner Tre’Davious White and fellow safety Jordan Poyer have formed a secondary to be afraid of in the AFC East.


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