Hobson's only interception of the season came against Miami in October
Over the course of the Jets spirited push into the playoff race, many people have focused on middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma and his transition to the 3-4 defense. Even tough the former Pro Bowler has 100 tackles this season, Vilma has been able to share some of the spotlight with his fellow linebackers, most notably Victor Hobson.
Hobson has led the team in total tackles in two of the past three games, and he has already accounted for a career-high 88 tackles with two games remaining. The fourth-year veteran has also combined to record three sacks in the past two games to reach a career-high of five on the season.
"I've just tried to grow and improve within the system every day and every week," said Hobson. "It's something I've been able to do. I've been fortunate and blessed to be put in situations where I can make plays, and it's my job to take advantage of those opportunities."
Some of those situations come in the form of disguised packages. The schemes are the result of the lately mastered 3-4 alignment and Hobson has reaped the benefits. His flexibility has been key in both his and Vilma's success, and head Coach Eric Mangini is very pleased with Hobson's progression throughout the year.
"That is really what you're trying to do with the sub package is have the flexibility to bring any combination of guys that you want," said Mangini. "You can bring whoever you want and balance it off with however you want it. It all goes back to the ability to be flexible. He has given us great ability there.
"Vic is another excellent example of consistency, learning from the mistakes each week and taking to the coaching," Mangini added.
For Hobson and the defense, the learning curve has increased with time and that has helped the defense show various looks to opponents.
"It is just part of knowing the whole philosophy of the defense, knowing what you need to do and knowing what everyone's job is," he said. "With doing that and knowing that you're able to disguise different things and change up different looks."
In October against the Dolphins, Hobson collected three tackles but his interception of Joey Harrington in the first quarter proved costly for the Miami offense. With the Jets leading 3-0, Hobson picked a Harrington pass intended for tight end Randy McMichael at the Jets' 23-yard line. The takeaway not only swung momentum, it also kept the Dolphins scoreless in a game that ended with a three-point differential.
Even though the Dolphins are coming off of their first shutout loss of the season, Hobson knows Monday night's meeting will be another hotly contested battle.
"It's going to be a hard-fought game, a dogfight, and we know that," said the former Michigan standout. "We have to come out and match their intensity because we know they are coming out ready to play. They have a lot of very good skill position players that create a lot of problems for our defense and we're just going to have to be prepared to execute."
The Dolphins, hoping to play spoilers at home, will encounter a Jets defense that continues to rise to the occasion. While many teams tend to fade away as the season comes to a close, Bob Sutton's group has appeared rejuvenated. Following Thursday's practice, Mangini made it clear that the defensive unit is starting to heat up as the temperature begins to drop.
"I was really happy with practice yesterday," Mangini said Friday morning. "The defensive pursuit of the ball, the communication and a lot of things defensively all went well. It was one of our best days that we've had throughout the course of the year."
The fact that his unit has picked up here in the waning weeks of December doesn't surprise Hobson at all considering what is at stake for the 8-6 Jets.
"The fact that what we're playing for is definitely in the back of our minds; we have a great opportunity," said Hobson. "I think we appreciate it a lot more and one of the things we learned and has been taught to us is: take advantage of the opportunities you have because you never know if you're going to get them again."
Injury Report Jets Questionable: FB B.J. Askew (foot), CB David Barrett (hip), WR Laveranues Coles (back), RB Cedric Houston (calf) & DB Eric Smith (foot)
Probable: *RB Kevan Barlow (calf), *LB Matt Chatham (foot), *C Nick Mangold (hip), *WR Justin McCareins (foot), *OL Brandon Moore (back), *DL Rashad Moore (hand), *QB Chad Pennington (calf), *LB Anthony Schlegel (illness), *DE Bryan Thomas (shoulder), *S Jamie Thompson (ankle) & *WR Wallace Wright (thigh)
Doubtful: WR Marty Booker (ankle)
Questionable: CB Will Allen (groin/quad) & *RB Ronnie Brown (hand)
Probable: *QB Joey Harrington (ankle) & *DT Keith Traylor (knee)
Denotes players who participated in practice