Tribute to Jordan Hicks

Yesterday, the Arizona Cardinals released their captain MIKE linebacker Jordan Hicks. The move added $6.5 million in much-needed cap space for the team.

Last offseason, after agreeing to restructure his contract, Jordan Hicks found himself on the outside when the Cardinals drafted linebacker Zaven Collins, intending to move him in place of Hicks at MIKE.

Jordan Hicks has not performed any social media scrubs. Instead, he respectfully asked the cardinals to trade him. When no trade materialized, Hicks stayed with the club, swallowed his pride, and returned to work.

This season more than any other, what Cardinals fans have learned about Jordan Hicks is that he is a paragon of resilience, class and grace. The man never complained. He welcomed Zaven Collins with open arms. And he stepped out onto the field to compete to the best of his abilities.

Not only did Jordan Hicks get the go-ahead to start at MIKE, he was voted captain for the second year in a row by his teammates.

What gave Hicks the edge was his complete understanding of Vance Joseph’s defense and his exceptional ability to make defensive decisions and organize lineups.

If you’ve ever heard Jordan Hicks speak, you understand what a charismatic and articulate communicator he is. Jordan Hicks speaks like a veteran NFL coach. And, after retiring as a player, he could make a smooth transition into coaching, if that’s what he intends to do.

Which was and remains confusing to me and perhaps a number of Cardinals fans were trying to figure out why Jordan Hicks was being used in place of MIKE linebackers in such an unconventional way. Just as Kyler Murray plays most of his shots camped five yards behind center in a shotgun formation, Jordan Hicks has camped 5-6 yards from the football many times.

On ongoing games, it was unclear exactly what Jordan Hicks’ keys were. An educated guess was that he was playing playside guard, as it rarely seemed like he was leaning on the running back, like most MIKE linebackers are tasked with – you know, the old hat on a hat assignment.

As a result, Jordan Hicks has made the vast majority of his tackles (118 in 2021) around 4-8 yards from the line of scrimmage. Because of the consistency of Jordan Hick’s approach, it’s safe to assume that Hicks was doing what DC Vance Joseph and LBC Billy Davis asked him to do as part of their “bend, but don’t break” philosophy.

If the ‘bend, but don’t break’ philosophy was indeed the case, then against the run, Jordan Hicks was good at what he was asked to do – which was basically making as many tackles as possible in a 4 x 5 yard box.

In pass coverage, Jordan Hicks has shown marked improvement this season playing in the hook areas of the Cardinals’ zones. However, in man-to-man coverage, as was the case with the majority of his fellow 3-4 linebackers, Jordan Hicks was given coverage assignments on TEs and RBs that put him at a disadvantage. competitive. Despite that, Jordan Hicks couldn’t be faulted for the effort he made in trying to cover for his man.

In today’s NFL, classic MIKE linebackers are out of style. The current trend among DCs is to play smaller, faster hybrid-type athletes who possess the speed to cover running backs. What DC is looking for is 3 linebackers who are just as good at making tackles as they are making plays in tight passing coverage. Finding defenders who can tackle and cover with the same consistency isn’t easy.

While Jordan Hicks had his fair share of struggles in men’s coverage – if you recall, in the playoff game against the Rams, Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford repeatedly tried to isolate Jordan Hicks in men’s coverage. on Sony Michel and Cam Akers, who they sent out of the backfield on passes and wheel routes. A wheelie route to Akers featured on Odell Beckham, Jr.’s 40-yard flea flicker pass. On that play, Jordan Hicks had the discipline to stay in cover on Akers, but without quick safety help, Akers got was able to beat Hicks on the sidelines. Again, you can’t blame Jordan Hicks for a failed mission or a lackluster effort. It was a play most linebackers would have struggled to cover.

However, going back to the strengths of Jordan Hicks’ game, one area where he perhaps excels the most is storming the A and B gaps on lightning passes (pictured above). Last season, Jordan Hicks recorded 17 QB pressures and 4 sacks. Hicks’ blitz ability in itself could give him a special place wherever he plays next season. He is relentless in this role.

It’s great to see Jordan Hicks getting some well-deserved credit from the national media. Adam Schefter has done Hicks some well-deserved justice here.

As far as local pundits go, The Burd’s Eye View gave Hicks some well-deserved props in this short video. Congratulations, well said, Burd’s Eye,

Thank you, captain Jordan Hicks, for the key role you played in helping the Cardinals to 11 wins and the team’s first trip to the playoffs since 2015. You are a winner, both as a player in the NFL and as a man of character. Best wishes to you on the next leg of your NFL journey. Much respect to you, #58.

What a beautiful band it is:

Jordan Hicks to his teammates: “I love you all. guy ! »

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