I’ve spent a lot of time (and writing space on this website) thinking about how the Packers are going to get Micah Hyde on the field. If the Packers really believe in HaHa Clinton-Dix he’s not going to start at safety. The team isn’t going to pay Morgan Burnett $4.8 million to sit on the bench unless he continues to regress. I also have a hard time seeing him crack the lineup at corner. All 3 spots (if everyone’s healthy) are covered by effective players.
The easy answer is that Hyde is so versatile and will make such a big jump from year 1 to year 2 that he’ll be able to step in if any of the 5 DBs in the nickel package go down. Considering the recent injury history of the Green Bay Packers it’s certainly possible that Hyde could get plenty of defensive snaps as the “6th” defensive back. Between those snaps and the snaps that the Packers play their traditional dime defense he might be able to get on the field as much as I and the coaches would like but I doubt it.
Then I think about the major complaints and the major problems that the Packers defense has had over the last few seasons, and one in particular has been the “soft underbelly” of the defense. Long have running backs and tight ends wreaked havoc in the middle of the field against Dom Capers defense. The most obvious personnel problem is that the team doesn’t have two outside linebackers that it can trust to make plays.
Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers is a fantastic player who has honestly lost (at least) a step. Because of his tackling ability, however the Pittsburgh Steelers allowed him to play a little nickel linebacker last season as pictured below. What the Green Bay Packers need at nickel linebacker is a player that can operate in space, cover tight ends like a corner would, but has at least the size of a safety. That sounds a lot like Micah Hyde, doesn’t it?
If the Packers were willing to play Micah Hyde at nickel linebacker in certain packages next to either Hawk or Jones, they wouldn’t lose enough in the run defense to make up for the things he would allow you to do in pass defense. If you’re asking me whether I’d have Micah Hyde or AJ Hawk covering LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles out of the backfield, the answer is Hyde. If you’re asking me whether I’d rather have Brad Jones or Micah Hyde carry Vernon Davis or Jimmy Graham up the seam, the answer is Micah Hyde. The Steelers and Packers have a very similar defense and I think it would definitely be possible to utilize Hyde in the Polamulu role.
I’m not dumb enough to think that you want Micah Hyde taking on blocks from guards and centers on first down, but in 2nd and long and 3rd down situations would it be cool to see AJ Hawk trot off the field and Hyde come in and play some linebacker? Absolutely. McCarthy and the coaching staff keep referring to Hyde as a “3 down player” or a “4 down player”. We’re all just trying to think of ways to get the best 11 guys on the field.