Killebrew Excels In Coverage But Stuffed In Run Defense


A Film Review Of Miles Killebrew’s Performance Against The Minnesota Vikings In Week Four.


Killebrew’s Blanket Coverage

When Miles Killebrew came to Detroit, many thought he was destined for the money backer role and that he may not make it as a traditional safety. However, his performance against the Vikings on Sunday was contradictory to that.  Killebrew played the majority of his plays in the box but when he was asked to cover over-top, he was fantastic in coverage.

He quickly diagnosed opposing plays and jumped routes, even if the ball was not thrown his way. In the third quarter, there is a play where Darius Slay goes up for a jump ball against Laquon Treadwell and earns a pass breakup. On this play, Killebrew has a deep quarter assignment, he recognizes a post route by Stefon Diggs in the opposite side slot and jumps in front of the receiver, putting himself in position to intercept the ball if Keenum throws to Diggs.

Being in position like this is why Killebrew was only targeted four times in this game. He allowed zero catches and added two pass deflections (50% of his targets). Whether it was deep zone assignments or playing man in the box, Miles quickly read what the offense was throwing at him, allowing him to be sticky in coverage all day.

Miles Stuffed In The Run

While Killebrew excelled in coverage, he equivocally struggled against the run. Whenever he lined up in the box as a “money backer” against a run, he was swallowed by offensive lineman, tight ends, and even struggled to shed Vikings receiver Adam Theilen. He did not show any ability to hand fight or shed blocks at all.

While he was quick to diagnose route combinations and get in position in coverage, he really struggled to recognize run plays quickly enough to make plays.

Dalvin Cook TD

On this play Killebrew lined up in the slot towards the top of the clip. As the ball is snapped, he begins to press Stefon Diggs as he stems a corner route. Yet he fails to recognize that the play is actually an inside run with running back Dalvin Cook, subsequently taking himself out of position to make a play on the ball. The result was a touchdown for the Vikings.

Dalvin Cook’s Fumble

(Broadcast Angle)

(View From Behind The Play)

In these two clips above, you see an example of Killebrew struggling to shed blocks. Killbrew takes a good pursuit angle but when he makes contact with tight end David Morgan, he is driven back five yards and removed from the play. This allowed Dalvin Cook to gain 10 additional yards on the play.

Killebrew Blitz

On two plays during this game the Lions attempted to blitz Killebrew – the above clip is one of them. However, due to his inability to break free of the lineman, he did not make an impact on either play. The inability to get to the quarterback on this blitz ended with a 33-yard reception for the Vikings.

While Killebrew struggled against the run in this game, it really showed up when Killebrew was playing in the box in the money backer role. Bringing him closer to the line allows lineman and tight ends a short path to the young safety. When they do get to him, he is quickly removed from the play. This ineffectiveness playing against the run in the box, combined with his great ability to cover deep in this game, could help show Killebrew’s ability to succeed in a more traditional safety role.

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