As Giants fans, our season has devloved into a search for silver linings. A 1-6 start to the season will do that to you, but in order to take some good from the 2013 season it is what we as fans have to do as fall turns to winter. As Rich did in his previous post with Jason Pierre-Paul, we will now take a look at another small victory from Big Blue’s defense–the emergence of S Will Hill.
Hill returned from his four-game suspension in week five against the Eagles (fittingly, the Giants’ week 8 opponent) and did not disappoint. Heading into the season many pundits thought that the Giants would have a “good problem” on their hands in week five when Will Hill returned to fortify an already-stacked safety unit with Rolle, Brown, and newcomer Ryan Mundy. Injuries derailed the Giants plan for the unit but Hill has still been a welcome addition.
In Hill’s first game back the St. Peter’s (Jersey City) product played all 85 snaps and graded out to a 2.2 (his grade would have been even higher if not for a questionable unnecessary roughness call) . The second year safety recorded 11 tackles (second only to fellow safety Ryan Mundy).
A more telling (and positive) number than the 11 tackles is the four “stops” recorded against the Eagles in week five. We all knew about Hill’s raw talent and athletic ability as he came into the league from Florida. Where this will be translated into the field (at least we hope as Giants fans) will be in areas like this.
As pedestrian as the Giants linebacker core is the safety unit is anything but. Hill’s raw talent and athletic allows for the Giants to get highly creative with their personnel, especially in the second level of the defense. With three solid (four when healthy) safeties on the roster the Giants can find success despite the lack of “playmaking” linebacker. The emergence of Hill allows for the Giants to use their three safety scheme that they rode to the 2011 championship.
What allows this look to be successful (and why it is extremely difficult to execute) is the fact that you need safeties who play well in coverage and against the run. Through three games in the 2013 season Will Hill has done just that. Hill has graded out to a 2.5 against the run and a 0.8 against the pass. If Hill keeps producing at a rate anywhere close to that in the remainder of the games this season, then the safety will have proven worth the wait for the Giants.
Hill has recorded just one negative grade in coverage this year (a -0.5 against the Bears in which Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett had their way with the Giants’ secondary) and has allowed only six receptions for a total of 47 in his coverage area. Even more impressive than the low yardage allowed total is the low YAC he has allowed to opponents. Hill has given up a measly 21 yards after the catch in his coverage zones this year. This means Hill has been wrapping up the opposing receivers and not allowing any big plays- something that is extremely important for any player in this league.
Although it is still fairly early into his career, Hill has done more than enough to keep himself on the field and be productive while doing so. As he limits his mistakes he will in turn get more chances for big plays and has an extremely high ceiling because of it. Those opportunities, which are sure to come, combine with Hill’s raw talent and ability make for a bright future in blue for Will Hill.