2014 Play of the Week – WK1

As I did last year, I will once again be selecting one play each week through the 2014 season where I felt as though special movement was displayed. In the post I will then breakdown some things that I felt contributed to the movement performance. In my normal fashion, I will also be very likely to make note of things that maybe could’ve been done differently, as well.

Game: Saints at Falcons

Play: Jacquizz Rodgers making nifty moves & breaking tackles

What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

As usual, there were a number of stand-out plays in the opening week of the season. These included other very worthy candidates to kickoff this year’s Beyond the Stats Play of the Week such as: 1. Cordarrelle Patterson’s dazzling run where he weaved through the Rams defense in St. Louis. 2. Le’Veon Bell patiently moving through the Brown’s defense on a house call. And 3. A.J. Green with a juggling catch and then a sharp stop & cutback move against the Ravens.

All of the plays mentioned above could’ve easily been selected as they each presented a different element of displayed movement proficiency. However, due to the nature of the moves laid on the field in the play I did select and the admitted personal bias I have to some of them (the moves not the player), those other candidates were overtaken by a play that left my RB-movement-loving eyes in awe. This play was due to Jacquizz Rodgers’s crazy starts, stops, and changes of direction en route to paydirt while leading the Falcons to a victory against their rival New Orleans Saints.

What happened movement-wise on the play?

On this play, Rodgers showed exactly why multi-directional control and diverse movement skills trumps linear speed when it comes to playing RB in the NFL. Rodgers isn’t a speedster or a physical specimen per se by any means (5’6/195lb with less than desirable 4.5+ straight-line speed)…but what he does have well makes up for those tangibles…and that what-have-you for #32 is a low center of gravity, wide base of support, and ultra-sensitive control during deceleration & cutting patterns.

As you will see, Rodgers takes the handoff from Matt Ryan at the Saint’s 22/23 yard line with this opening week game hanging in a balance. Though Rodgers doesn’t have tremendous linear top-end speed (as already indicated above), he does have a bit of an accelerative burst and mechanics which puts his body (and its motor potential) in a rather optimal position to cover real estate pretty rapidly through his first few steps. Just pause the video on his first or second steps after receiving the ball and you will see a cocked hip, knee, and ankle at near 90 degrees ready to drive behind him horizontally with force from his powerful legs. This allows him to hit the line of scrimmage with aggression at the 17 yard line and ready to “Wow” those in attendance, those watching from home, and this particular Movement Specialist who watched the play over and over.

After he passes the first down marker (which stood atop the 15 yard line) you can see #32 ready to put a little razzle dazzle on the Saints defense. From the 15 to the 13 he starts to decelerate his body through a very efficient lowering of his hips and knees with 3 rapid but shorter steps. This allows him to reduce heel strike and increase energy restitution. Anyone who follows me and my work knows how much this excites me with my insistence that a RB’s ability to have controlled deceleration patterns is the thing that separates those who are in the league healthy for awhile from those who only excelled in the college ranks.

Rodgers stopping

This deceleration of the body described above puts Rodgers in an optimal position to make a video game-like clip on his highlight film when, at the 12 yard line, he baits a Saints defender in just far enough for #32 himself to spin off and deflecting the blunt of the force away from his body. Once out of the spin move, Rodgers displays tremendous balance (told ya’ll being 5’6-5’7 isn’t all that bad) and does what most RBs are not able to do after a spin move (and why a spin move isn’t usually all that effective) which is regain control of his feet to position himself in a place to get up-field. Instead, Rodgers does so efficiently and gets his head up to quickly scan the field back into the middle teeth of green real estate.

By this point (at the 8 yard line), Rodgers knows what he is the midst of doing and also knows that only getting into the endzone is going to be good enough to make it on the top plays (let alone get named the prestigious Play of the Week on here-haha). It’s also at this point, Rodgers then throws down a rare open field, 2-foot jump cut with a narrow base of support (not easy!). In order to be able to execute it effectively and have a positive outcome he doesn’t jump far (which is one of the first mistakes of most RB’s jump cuts) but instead does so quickly with control of his feet to get moving into reacceleration again in a blink.

This quick bilateral jump cut allows Rodgers to get some space with a number of over-pursuing and un-expecting Saints defenders. However, those guys in gold still have a number of buddies coming to try with one last effort to bring him down before the go-ahead TD is scored. Unfortunately for them…but fortunately for the home crowd…they must not have read the scouting report that Jacquizz Rodgers is not easy to bring down as he snaps a few more steps into the ground and dives into the endzone while absorbing the too little/too late contact.

Rodgers TD 2

The cool thing about this entire play is that without the proficiency in the deceleration pattern prior to the spin move Rodgers executed, the rest of this play would’ve never been possible (and of course, that’s just as I always preach and I always enjoy being right). All in all, as unreal as this play was, I know that there are going to be many, many more like them as the season progresses! I hope that you will join me for each and every one of the best of the best each week as the season does unfold in front of his with masters of on-field movement!

To see this spectacular first play of the week of the year click on this link below:
http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-cant-miss-plays/0ap3000000390774/Wk-1-Can-t-Miss-Play-Rodgers-spins-free

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