2014 Play of the Week – WK7

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: Chiefs at Chargers

Play: 1 of the best RBs in the game shows why he ranks where he does

Charles play pic 5

What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

With nearly half of the season already over, most of my regular readers had to have known that I have been sitting back…just itching for one of my top RB movers of last season (McCoy, Bernard, and Charles) to break-out and find himself sitting at the top of the weekly heap. Well…it finally happened on this week 7 when Kansas City Chief RB Jamaal Charles reached deep into his movement pockets and whipped out a run that featured a little bit of everything in his movement arsenal.

As with most weeks, the nod in the winner’s direction was not an easy one. Charles had other big-time plays to
contend with. Last week’s winner(s), Tony Romo and Terrance Williams, had another spectacular body contorting Romo-spin to Williams long hook-up en route to yet another win. In addition, the St. Louis Rams laid down not one, but two, of the trickiest (and gutsiest) special team plays that you will see all season long. But as you have come to learn, here at Football Beyond the Stats, we dig tricky plays that feature crispy & efficient movement…and thus, Jamaal Charles reigns supreme for this week like he so often does when movement is the standard upon which players are judged.

What happened movement-wise on the play?

The play begins with KC QB, Alex Smith, standing on the Chargers 21 yard line and Charles lined up to his left on the 22. In a read option-type look Smith makes the quick & accurate decision to hand the ball to his All-Pro back to let his playmaker make things happen.

Now, to my best estimation, Jamaal Charles is the fastest and most efficient back in the league in hitting the edge with the greatest of acceleration capability (as he gets up to high percentages of his max velocity in as few of steps as any RB in the game). However, with the members of his offensive line pulling to their right and some up-field pursuit of the Chargers defensive line, Charles wasn’t allotted the immediate opportunity to get on the gas pedal and attempt to beat guys to the corner like he so often does.

Instead, as soon as he gets the ball firmly tucked, #25 has to make a quick sort of feinting/jabbing move to get further depth from the defensive lineman’s unexpected pursuit up into his lap. This buys him a little bit of time to continue to simultaneously scan up field and to the corner for the perfect chance and time to cut it up field.
As he starts to get to where he expects the edge to be set, his offensive lineman again have been pushed back a bit even though you can tell he is really chomping at the bit to get up field. However, before he does that (cut up field), he has to make yet another feinting action to push himself away from the pursuit much like the one from just moments before. These transitional-type movement actions is exactly why I have many of my RBs spend as much time training/moving at moderate velocities in multiple movement planes rather than just sticking in traditional (more track-like) linear speed work.

Charles play pic 7

He finally gets the space to operate in to feel comfortable cutting it up at around the 19 and ½ to 19 yard line. He chooses here to execute a crossover cut as his movement strategy. Note: though he is only 5’11”, one of the knocks that I have on him in tight spaces is that he often chooses to stay more upright in his cutting actions and this often lends itself to a higher center of gravity crossover cut instead of an outside foot power cut (stay tuned down below). It’s also interesting to note here his last 2 steps BEFORE the actual cutting/planting action. These steps are controlled and more coiled with hip & knee flexion than the majority of taller RBs (with longer legs and higher center of gravities) will execute that crossover with (thus making it much safer to Charles to use it safely and effectively).

When he does plant and push down into and back out of his crossover, he intelligently (i.e. instinctually) uses very snappy movement actions here and gets his feet at sharp but controllable angles. This of course stores more energy and does not require him to use as much concentric force exertion OR over-commit to reacceleration quite yet. Both of these facts of his movement serve him well then as he is still able to cover ground from the 19 to the 15 yard lines quick and to push up into the back of his offensive lineman who is out in space blocking for him. This also draws the defenders to the sidelines as they have read the scouting reports plenty of times (as have the Chargers witnessed it first hand before) that he wants to get out and run!

Charles play pic 4

At the 15 to 14 yard line, he starts to decelerate again in preparation for a cutting action. If you pause the video actually when his foot is on the 15 yard line, you can see Charles’s penultimate step (his second to the last step before planting). This step is loaded like a spring…again storing elastic energy to pounce him into the opposite direction. The control and position he finds himself in during this step is what allows him to stutter-step/jump-stop into his plant without losing a lot of speed.

Charles play pic 2

When he gets up to the 13/12 yard line, he is obviously trying to determine how to navigate the 1 on 4 set-up that he has found himself in. Here then (pause the video when #94 is pressing down on him and he is going to bring it back to the middle of the field) he uses one of the dirtiest sharp angle power cuts that you will see from a RB who is 5’10” and above (that is my cut-off for short backs vs. tall backs-haha). His outside foot is pointed straight and at about a 45 degree angle and his inside knee and foot are coiled up underneath him ready to attack & get him back into reacceleration. That movement strategy and action is one that I haven’t seen that much from him in the past as he is one of the best crossover cutters in the league and that’s how he usually would move in this situation.

However, I must say that I like this one much, much better (as it is much safer!). But that sharp plant into the power cut (in my opinion of course) is what allows him to score on this play as it left 4 Chargers defenders all going to the sideline with no chance to catch him as they end up whiffing on nothing but air as they reach out to even get a sniff of him.

From here on out, he just has to act like he’s getting the corner on an off tackle or sweep play and if you will recall from what I mentioned above Charles may be the best in the biz at operating with these angular acceleration movement mechanics. He has that long stride (for a guy who is 5’11”) but his posterior chain is so active that it paws back behind him to flip his help up rapidly. Because of this, he hits such high velocities in just 3-4 steps it’s almost unfair. But he uses this to his advantage as he gets on his gas pedal from the 10 on in.

However, much to his dismay, at the 3 to 2 yard line he quickly realizes if he’s going to be finishing this highlight play in the end zone he is going to have to sacrifice his body. And THAT is exactly what he was willing to do as he dives up and into the oncoming contact of two Chargers defensive backs who wanted nothing more than to take #25 for a ride. As you can see, Charles is not one to shy away from enough contact to leave him performing multiple spins but he ends up in pay-dirt with ball firmly in hand while his former teammate, Brandon Flowers, lie in the end zone taking the blunt of the collision.

Charles play pic 1

To watch this awesome play from start to finish, click this link below:

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