Eagles Plan to Slow Down Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — In a league filled with fast people, Tyreek Hill is a little bit different.
The undersized second-year standout is the Kansas City Chiefs' biggest threat on the offensive side of the football and the Eagles' defense is well aware of what they will be up against on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
"Everybody is fast in the NFL but you can tell [from watching the film], Hill is a little bit different," Eagles slot cornerback Patrick Robinson admitted to 973espn.com earlier this week.
And no one understands how to utilize a smaller, faster guy on the outside than Andy Reid, who did it for years with DeSean Jackson in Philadelphia.
The problem for the Eagles is that Hill is far more versatile than Jackson ever was, being able to line up all across the formation while being used as a receiver or running back. On one play, he might be line up outside the numbers to stretch the field and on the next, he might move to the slot to run an option route. The jet sweep is always on the table as is an ability to run the football out of the backfield or stress the safeties and LBs by running a wheel route.
"It's a s@#$ show," one AFC scout said of trying to figure out where Hill is and then figuring out how to contain him.
During his rookie campaign as a fifth-round pick out of West Alabama, Hill was a manufactured-touch guy until later in the season who was able to find the end zone as a receiver, runner, kickoff returner and punt returner. When it was said and done he amassed 1,836 all-purpose yards and 12 touchdowns for the 12-win Chiefs.
So people asked how could a later-round pick out of that kind of school make such a splash?
Well, the only reason Hill ended up at West Alabama was due to an incident stemming from an assault on his then-20-year-old pregnant girlfriend while at Oklahoma State. Hill eventually plead guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation and was sentenced to three years of probation.
If there were no DV issues, Hill finishes his career at OSU, likely runs a sub-4.3 at the combine and is a premium draft pick.
Kansas City took the swing despite the red flags and is now reaping the rewards as Reid turns Hill from gimmick guy into the focus of his offense.
In the Chiefs' impressive season-opening win over New England, Hill caught seven of his eight targets for 133 yards with a 75-yard home run.
If there is any good news, Hill didn't do much damage as a runner or punt returner but you know that's coming.
So how do you deal with Hill?
"It's technique," Robinson said. "It's a good idea to get your hands on him early and disrupt him and throw off the timing."
Maybe the scariest part of facing Hill this week is that the Eagles are without their fastest corner, Ronald Darby, who dislocated his ankle last weekend in Washington. And the rest of the corners expected to be dealing with Hill -- Robinson, Jalen Mills, Jaylen Watkins and Rasul Douglas -- pale in comparison when it comes to the stopwatch.
The problem, however, is if you pay too much attention to Hill, explosive tight end Travis Kelce will gash you down the seam or rookie running back Kareem Hunt will expose an undermanned front.
"If you want to spend too much attention on Tyreek than Kelce, then the running backs, all those guys can make plays," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "You have to play good, sound defense. You have to be good across the board. It's not just about taking one guy out of this offense. If you try to do that, I think there's a lot of other guys that can (hurt you). We can't over-play one person at the expense of the other guys."
On paper, it looks like an untenable matchup but Malcolm Jenkins believes the Eagles are up to the test.
"There's not really that many teams that have one guy that you can stop and feel good about," Jenkins said. "This league is too filled with talent. We know for a fact that there's going to be matchups that each guy is going to have to win.
"...Everybody's going to have to match up to win and we're going to need everyone to win those 1-on-1's. That's the beauty of having a team sport. Everybody's going to have to contribute. So we're looking forward to that. We're not trying to take away just one or two guys. We're going to see if we can match up."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen