Keith Butler Says Mike Hilton Has A Knack For Blitzing

For most cornerbacks, it’s what they do in coverage that catches the coaching staff’s eye. Mike Hilton is not like most corners. Physically, he is the smallest guy on the field. But when he laces up his cleats, he’s one of the most physical. That makes him an effective tackler. And blitzer.

It’s a topic Keith Butler was asked about during yesterday’s weekly media scrum. Butler said for Hilton, blitzing from his slot spot is all about feel and intuition.

“It’s a feel,” Butler told reporters. “Feel of when the ball is going to be snapped. It’s a feel of body language by their whole offense. In terms of when they’re set, when they’re not, when they’re moving around, when they’re looking around, all that stuff. You get a feel for that. He’s got a good feel for the blitz in terms of the timing and hitting it on the snap.”

Blitz Hilton has. Butler unleashed him last week against Baltimore, sending him on 14 blitzes. On one sequence, he blitzed three times in a row.

In total, Hilton was used in coverage 24 times and blitzed 14. I’m guessing he’s pretty much alone in a cornerback doing that. But he was used so often because he was successful, registering four pressures and notching his first career sack. That sack, by the way, was a big one and a prime example of the coaching staff raving mad about rush and coverage.

On the sack, which came on sudden change after the Steelers turned the ball over, Joe Flacco had a wide open Jeremy Maclin. You’ll see him toward the bottom of the picture.

“He understands what offenses do. And what they try to do in their movement. Talking and moving around. Them just getting into their stances and stuff like that, doesn’t tell you a lot. Tells you a little bit. But when they start looking around and listening to the cadence of the quarterback, cause they gotta do the same thing, then you get a pretty good idea of when the ball is going to be snapped.”

Butler didn’t go into specifics of what some of those tells are but film study will change those keys each week. It could be something like how long it takes the ball to be snapped after the QB lifts his leg, if they go quick in their no-huddle, or even something like if the QB has a pattern of how he looks at the defense. A lot of quarterbacks do, for example, looking left-right-left before snapping the football.

Though Butler didn’t touch on it, you have to think Hilton’s versatility and football background gives him an unusual advantage to figure things out. Hilton played every position in the secondary at Ole Miss, a lowly recruited prospect who had to fight for snaps and put his hand in the pile whenever his named was called upon. Though he’s become a permanent slot corner for the Steelers, those traits and tells have carried over, making him not just a slot corner, but a slot blitzer.

And a good one at that.

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.

  • Lukesaenz

    This comment isn’t an indictment or anything, but it’s just funny to think that our slot corner had 14 PR attempts in one game, and James Harrison probably hasn’t even had that many this entire season.

  • Michael Conrad

    I have to say Butler and the coverage stinks on that blitz Maclin was open but to be honest guys were open on a lot of plays. Flacco should have had three to four hundred yards. Our D needs to improved if not they will get toasted by a good QB.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Need to mix things up for Jaguars – including the shovel pass.

  • cencalsteeler

    Hilton has a slight case of the Palomalus.

  • dillon degroot

    When you run a zone blitz, a smaller number of guys have to cover more grass, so naturally a receiver or two will have space to work on any given blitz unless the playcall had extra protection set…It’s a matter of whether your blitzers get to the QB in time or not. So no, Flacco should not have had three to four hundred yards…Our blitz plays were generating pressure which covered for the open grass and prevented Flacco from finding those open receivers.

    Maclin didn’t get a pass thrown his way on that specific play because Hilton got the sack…That’s how blitzes work. You risk having your guys not get to the QB and him find the open receiver, and you risk that for a chance to sack the QB or force a bad throw for an INT…Which Flacco did….twice.

  • 太阳三联

    Xactly… Tired of the what ifs and the negative attitude on here seriously

  • rystorm06

    kid can ball, good pickup by the FO

  • falconsaftey43

    yeah pretty much. not always going to be a guy open on a blitz, but there are lots of times someone is.

  • dillon degroot

    Yeah, I didn’t mean for it to sound like “someone’s always open” on a blitz, I meant to say that there’s more room for receivers to work, and typically more separation from defenders since there’s less defenders in coverage.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Hmmmmm, let me see 🤔
    😃 I love DB blitzing! Absolutely love it!

  • PA2AK_

    Don’t think he’s had that many snaps…

  • PA2AK_

    Uncle Rico should have been Super Bowl MVP

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Correctimundo, If my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle.