The Chiefs have struck gold when it comes to drafting ‘return specialists,’ and with Tyreek Hill’s performances lately, it’s hard not to see the similarities between him and former Chief Dante Hall, the ‘Human Joystick.’
Andy Reid and the Chiefs are known for getting the most out of their draft picks, and they have shown that again and again. This season is no exception, with the diamonds-in-the-rough on defense they found in CB L’Jarius Sneed and undrafted rookie DT Tershawn Wharton.
That quality has been visible in the huge spike in talent that Tyreek Hill brings to each and every game–especially in big games and the playoffs–and when he gets the ball, all eyes need to be on him because he is dangerous no matter how many defenders are around him–just like a good return specialist.
Sunday’s AFC Championship game was just another example of how treacherous Hill can be when he gets the ball, showing everyone how fast he can make good coverage look like pee-wee practice, especially on his 71-yard catch-and-run late in the 3rd quarter (below).
The 71-yard catch nearly ended in a touchdown, and although Hill ended up with 172 total yards at the end of the game, he still felt bad about not scoring there, apparently telling Coach Reid that he’s “gotten slow in his old age.”
On the catch-and-run, which set up a 1-yard TD pass to Travis Kelce, Hill did a lot of running and juking, so much so that at the end of the run he had traveled over 170 total yards and reached a top speed of 20.76 MPH (according to Next Gen Stats).
The play itself reminded me of something–or should I say someone–when Hill started going across the field and making defenders look like they were on ice skates, he reminded me of Dante Hall–a.k.a the “X-Factor” or the “Human Joystick.”
You remember Dante Hall, right folks?
For the fans that were not around during the Dick Vermeil and Herm Edwards eras, Hall was the player to watch out for when he got the ball–much like Hill is today–and it was almost impossible for defenses to prevent or prepare for him.
On top of making guys miss, both Hill and Hall had the unique ability to simply turn on the nitrous and outrun anyone that could be behind them. When either of them ended up in the open field there wasn’t anything that could keep them from the endzone.
Dante Hall’s ability to make defenders miss is one of the key things that made him and the Chiefs so dangerous, Hall’s return game was so great that the NFL made his punt return from 2003 against Denver #62 on their “100 Greatest Plays.”
Also like Hall, Hill began making his name as a wide receiver and quickly became even more of a threat to opposing defenses. When the players’ respective coaches saw their ability to catch the ball and make secondaries miss they were used more and more, with Hill ending up in the NFL and Chiefs’ franchise record books as a WR more than Hall ever did.
The NFL and the Chiefs actually put together an interview between them three years ago where they discussed returning kicks and growing as wide receivers that is worth watching over and over again, it shows even more how similar their mentalities are as well as their skills.
It was Dante Hall’s return skills that earned him the name “The Human Joystick”, and it was his designated position at ‘X-receiver’ that earned him the name “the X-Factor”. Tyreek Hill has fully embraced his nickname, the Cheetah, ever since his rookie season after running the fastest 40-yard dash of any player in the 2016 NFL draft.
But it is their similar styles that they have left on the field every week that should lead to Tyreek Hill’s new secondary nickname: “The Human Joystick 2.0”, especially with Patrick Mahomes and Hill consistently putting up video game numbers on crazy play calls from Coach Reid.