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: Bills at Texans
Play: JJ Watt with the Pick-6
What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?
It’s hard to believe that a quarter of the NFL season is already over & done with! This week, we had something shake out that never has before…through 17 weeks last year and another 3 so far this year…a defensive play has not yet been selected for a BTS Movement Play of the Week…but that streak is no longer in-tact! It seems only fitting that the one & only, JJ Watt, was the one who threw down a play worthy enough to finally get some defensive love here on BTS.
It’s not that defensive plays haven’t been close before; last year there were a number of Pick-6s and even some big-time strip sacks that pushed my vote to almost go in their direction. But all happened to be up against some stiff offensive or special team competition and got edged out. But leave it to the most dominant & best defensive player in the league today (maybe best at any position?!) to be the first!
As for why this play was the one, look no further than incredible performance by Watt on the play itself…but do not think it was for a lack of competition as there were a number of spectacular catches namely from the likes of Stevie Johnson, Antonio Brown, and Steve Smith as well as some fabulously-efficient open-field crossover cutting actions by DeMarco Murray.
In addition, I would be amiss if I didn’t take the time, as a professional in the S&C community, to recognize the unique ‘play of the week’ by one of my peers. Most of you out there by now have probably saw the brief film of this and likely got a good chuckle when an Ohio State student elected it was in his best interest to run out on the field (thank gosh he decided that streaking wasn’t going to be part of this) at the OSU game as they took on in-state opponent, Cincinnati. Unfortunately for this student, lurking on the field was OSU Assistant Strength Coach, Anthony Schlegel…who just happens to be a former OSU Linebacker and didn’t mind tapping into his glory days a bit to put on a display of fantastic unilateral triple extension mechanics and total body rotational power!
What happened movement-wise on the play?
I know that many of my regular readers are accustomed to hearing me get all excited over running backs with powerful, sharp cutting actions in tight spaces or punt returners setting up guys to look foolish in the open field. So, at least at first glance, many of you are going to probably wonder how this play is getting so much love from me.
That all said, we must remember a few things here: first, JJ Watt is a down lineman. Second, he is 6’5” and 290lb. Third, he ran 79 yards without being caught from behind (however, some of his buddies helped make this possible of course). Fourth, this man simply changes game like few others in the game today do at any position. Thus, he deserves all the love he gets here.
The play begins with Watt (#99) lined up wide at the left defensive end position with his hand down. Usually the first thing that I work on with my defensive ends is their stance as this will determine their first step which is literally everything to a DE. That said, many DE’s (most players in general) have no idea why they’re positioning their bodies biomechanically as they do and many just do so out of habit with no recollection of where they initially learned this particular position. Thus, very little true technical movement mastery exists then.
Fortunately, many DE’s in today’s game are freaks of nature who can make a tremendous impact on the field simply with their God-given athleticism. So, if I assist them in the process of learning how to use that motor potential in more technically-competent fashions the whole game opens up for them.
Now, one of the things that makes Watt so damn nasty is this initial position and the sheer explosiveness of the rapid development of force to the ground once the ball is snapped. If a DE is not careful, they often come out of their stance with too much vertical projection and not a solid balance between vertical with horizontal direction of force application. When that occurs they lift up much too high and get a vertical shin angle in their second step. Watt’s stance and first 2-3 step acceleration is simply superb…even when though this was assisted by the clear path given to him by the right tackle.
This built-up velocity would pay dividends to what was about to happen next as Buffalo Bills quarterback, EJ Manuel, attempts to dumb the ball up & over Watt’s outstretched arms and into the hands of his running back, Fred Jackson, who likely would have had some the real estate to work around to pick up the first down.
Instead though, Mr. Watt had totally different intentions and did what he does best. They don’t call him JJ SWATT for nothing…and he shows why here as he performs a very quick & responsive step-close approach-style jump (for you volleyball and basketballers out there) in which he did a fantastic job unconsciously reading Manuel’s eyes and body motions to anticipate & precisely time his leap to intercept the ball. The sheer brilliance of this on-field mastery cannot be overstated!
From there, the ball essentially falls into his arms and it’s off to the races. Unfortunately for the Buffalo
Bills, most of their fastest skill players were well away from #99 already to have any shot of catching him from behind. Thus, it was up to his in-the-trench counterpart opponents and that simply wasn’t going to do it!
When running linearly in the open field Watt is surprisingly efficient (again this is relatively speaking for someone who is this damn big). Granted, he may overstride a bit and waste a little energy while doing so…with a little too long of action on the backside as well (resulting in a longer ground contact time)…but let’s remember that this movement skill (high-speed linear locomotion) is not something that he would need to be technically masterful at. Besides, most guys his size simply lumber their way through the technical execution of these types of mechanics and there was something rather graceful when watching Watt in the open field.
When Watt realizes that he’s about to get himself yet another touchdown on the season he then does his best to give a little high-step as he rumbles on into the endzone and gives a little appreciation to the Texans fans as he was able to set the momentum into motion for them to celebrate the fresh Houston lead (which would later lead to a victory).
To see this great play of the week click on this link below: