Hobson displays the footwork of a prizefighter
No member of the New York Jets defense benefited more from the transition to the 3-4 front than outside linebacker Victor Hobson. In his fourth professional season, Hobson reached 100 tackles for the first time and posted a career-high six sacks.
"I've just tried to grow and improve each and every day, each and every week, and that's something I've been able to do," Hobson said during the winter. "I've been fortunate and blessed to be put in positions where I can make plays, and it's my job to take advantage of those opportunities."
Entering the season with just three career sacks and one sack over the previous two seasons, Hobson recorded a sack in the opener at Tennessee. He was also credited with seven tackles and was off to a promising start.
Two weeks later in Buffalo, Hobson scooped up a fumble and returned it 32 yards for his first NFL touchdown. That score gave the Green & White some much needed breathing room and came after Hobson was tagged with a roughing-the-passer penalty on J.P. Losman. This sequence in Week 3 was indicative of Hobson's season as the 6'0", 252-pound 'backer was not to be denied.
"I'm out there playing for my teammates and anytime you're in a situation where you feel like you let them down, you want to do anything you can to come back and make up for it," Hobson said. "I had a lot of time to think about it, so when I came back I just wanted to make plays. Fortunately, at that moment, I got the opportunity to pick up the ball and run with it."
Hobson ran with his opportunities in '06 and his play improved in crunch time. The Jets' postseason odds were long after a 5-5 start, but Hobson pointed the team in a winning direction against Houston on Nov. 26. The defense stymied the Texans all day in a blowout win and Hobson racked up 11 tackles. For his efforts, Jets head coach Eric Mangini named him the club's "Defensive Player of the Week."
"I thought he did a real nice job in the run and passing game," Mangini said of the Michigan product. "He has been close for a few weeks now. This week was his week."
Mangini, New England's defensive coordinator in 2005, was particularly happy with the work of Hobson in sub packages when personnel changed.
"I really have been pleased with not just his progress in base defense, but his progress in the sub defense," Mangini said. "Some of the plays he is making are within the context of the system but also just show really good awareness on his part."
The soft-spoken Hobson was humble when reporters asked about his team honor.
"It's a great feeling. I've just been trying since we started this system to come out, improve and get more comfortable," he said. "I'm trying to make my niche."
Hobson's progress soared after the award. In the romp at Green Bay, he was all over the field while racking up 13 stops. Then in the return date against Buffalo at the Meadowlands, Hobson picked up a career-high two sacks. He led the team with eight tackles (all solo) in the win at Minnesota and closed out the '06 campaign with a team-high nine tackles against the Raiders.
"You definitely have enough freedom to do what you want to do on the defense. It allows you to feel comfortable enough that you can make a play or use your athleticism to make a play," Hobson said. "I feel like that's helped us a lot, different calls here and there."
Add it all up and the shift to a 3-4 base turned into a career year for No. 54.