Film Room: Mike Hilton A Force Against The Run

Mike Hilton’s strong season continues, a topic we broach pretty much on a weekly basis. He’s become the full-time starting slot corner and done about as well a job as you could hope for in coverage. That continued in Sunday’s win over the Detroit Lions.

But his impact in the run game has arguably been just as impressive. Carnell Lake has compared playing in the slot to playing strong safety because of their run fit responsibility and importance. Hilton has excelled as much there as he has in coverage and it showed up again Sunday. He recorded two tackles against the run, giving him nine on the season, easily the most of any corner (the next closest has four).

Today, we’re going to take a quick look at both of those.

The first comes on 3rd and 16. Where you know a draw is a possibility, but still, as a corner, most are focused on the pass. Not Hilton. Beats the slot corner to the inside on the draw and makes the tackle on the back for just a two yard gain. Forces a long field goal for kicker Matt Prater.

The second was even bigger. The Lions’ final drive. 3rd and goal. Lions surprise with another run but Hilton isnt’ fooled. Comes flying in off the edge, fits his gap, and is the first to make the tackle. Forces 4th down, which Detroit fails to convert.

Hilton’s physicality has always been one of the top things that’s stuck about his game. He isn’t athletically gifted. He clearly isn’t a big guy. He admits he’s easy to overlook. But when he straps on a helmet, and is coming downhill to play the run, he’s one of the most effective in the league. That’s been huge for the Steelers in a world where nickel is the dominant package.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Bastiat

    The UFA needs to teach the first round pick how to play the run.

  • StolenUpVotes

    My guy

  • Considering how much of a blow it is for a team to miss on 2nd round draft pick–and Senquez Golson was a miss even though he may have been as talented as the team hoped he’d be since he never produced–it was literally a gift from heaven for Hilton to fall in their lap. GREAT pick-up!!! In fact, if Hilton had been the 2nd rounder we couldn’t have asked for more.

  • Mark

    OC’s have to game plan for Hilton now, he is running a lot of plays and his pass coverage has been outstanding. I want to see what Cam can give us. Because Sensabaugh is horrible and Cam deserves his spot and number #24

  • Dshoff

    Alex, I think it’s pretty clear that Stafford was giving a clinic on how to beat the cover 2 zone. Is there any way of knowing how much zone and how much Man we have been using in games?

  • Spencer Krick

    What a fantastic find he’s turned out to be

  • srdan

    Man it’s nice seeing that. I also like Hargrave in that second gif. Dude is playing at an elite level right now.

  • Alex Kozora

    I don’t have the numbers. I think PFF has said Steelers run less man than anyone in the league.

  • Cormel Bovan Sr.

    Good thing is not many quarterbacks have the gun that Stafford has to make those throws.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Yeah! Probably the biggest arm in football and oh yeah the biggest money as well.

  • Steeldog22

    Yep. He’s aggressive and tackles like you should, moving forward, with the shoulder, head up and wrap. Not dancing and grabbing.

  • Steeldog22

    Not a gift from Heaven. Colbert and their scouts are better at their jobs than given credit around here.

  • pittfan

    I have a feeling this gets more than it’s share of attention in the film room.
    Hard to sit on a room of hitters and not stick out like a sore thumb

  • nutty32

    Steeler Rookie of the Year, sorry JuJu.

  • Ed Smith

    Yes, but only if there is accountability in/after the film room does change occur. That is on the coaches first, player second. So far the results on Burns indicate little in the way of accountability for his lack of tackling (and the technique). Burns’ continued lack of development in the area of tackling leads me to conclude this behavior appears to be that of one who thinks it doesn’t matter if he ever tackles well – “who’s going to take my spot?” attitude??? Not sure, but I do not like what I see from him at this point. Contrast his lack of development with the huge progress Hilton continues to make. I’d swear if you just looked at performance/results, you’d think the way they came to the team was reversed…

  • 6 ring circus

    Those two…depends on who will bring more to the table in the remaining games. I think that while Hilton is part of a coming on defense as a whole, Juju may well carve out a niche of his own on offense…The “darling” so far?! No question, the SoCal guy.

  • pittfan

    I hear what you’re saying but Burns did lead the team in tackles with 9/ 8 solo and he did, even if clumsily, mix it up more than what I’ve seen in the past. I think someone stuck a bug in his ear. That said, his technique does suck and that will take time to fix.

  • Zarbor

    Is Sanquez still on this team? Hilton has rendered him a casualty. We are fortunate Hilton is a baller. Love the way this kid plays.

  • John Pennington

    Steelers need to find more players like Hilton who are not afraid to hit and make tackles, He is the blue print of the secondary. Then the steelers can Burns and his non tackling self on notice.

  • walter

    Golson was cut. He is currently a free agent but no takers.

  • WreckIess

    He’s not a rookie.

  • MC

    Consistently solid. Loving what this guy contributes on a weekly basis.
    Meanwhile, has Bud Dupree ever attempted to power rush a tackle? once he can’t get around them (which is always) then he stops and gives a half ass attempt to go inside after patty cake. Biggest disappointment this season.

  • Scunge

    It certainly didn’t hurt that they were coming off their bye and had two weeks to prepare, that was huge for Stafford I think

  • Putter

    Was there anything in his combine numbers that could have predicted his success or his college tape? He looks lightning quick on the field (as opposed to fast in the 40-yd dash). Short shuttle?

  • Cormel Bovan Sr.

    Ironic thing is he played across from Golson in college and went undrafted, then came to the same team Golson was drafted by and and took his job 🤷🏾‍♂️