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: Seahawks at Chiefs
Play: Jamaal Charles makes his 2nd visit of ’14 as a Movement POW
What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?
Sorry; no repeat of last week where I was so enamored with 5 different plays displaying their movement proficiency that I couldn’t come to grips with just one to feature. Instead, this week, I feel as though I found myself a winner!
As usual though, that’s not to say that there weren’t a number of worthy plays. First, JJ Watt continues his MVP-hopeful campaign as showed great body control and awareness while hauling in a TD pass for the Texans (yes, a Defensive Lineman catching a pass). Then, Matt Forte danced through the Vikings defense with some nifty moves on a long run. Finally, Rob Gronkowski did normal Gronk-like things while running around and through guys over en route to a TD catch.
However, at the end of the day, my dynamic RB-bias held true and I went with a play from one of the top movers of this season at the midway point; Chief running back, Jamaal Charles. At first glance, the play may like a typical one that onlookers have gotten accustomed to seeing from the electric mover. However, as we dive in further (as you will see below), Charles has gotten considerably more consistent with his movement strategies while in open space maintaining more biomechanically efficient & safe cutting patterns and this is huge for not only performance but also longevity.
What happened movement-wise on the play?
Charles starts the play offset to Chiefs QB, Alex Smith, who is in the shotgun on 2nd and short. From the start of the play it was easy to see that not only was Charles going to easily get enough to move the chains but also that there may be more real estate to work with if he could make a few players miss in the 2nd or 3rd level (which is one of his fortes).
Luckily for him, he also was about to have a convoy of willing offensive lineman (and one surprising wide receiver) who wanted to get out to help and alleviate some of his troubles. At his own 45 yard line, he had already picked up the first down but was looking for more as well as looking for the best possible route to add to his yardage total for the day. As he straddles the 45 yard line with his controlled lunge cut, he has the option to break it outside to his right (which would’ve required an outside power cut) or back inside to his left (which he was able to do with just a quick transitional-type step)…he elected upon the latter.
One thing that Charles has been a bit guilty of in the past is he wasn’t maybe as patient as he needed to be both tactically in strategy or technically in movement and he would try to get on the gas pedal and off to the races too early that he would miss lanes, angles, and open space. However, he has improved his transitional movement and shows it here as he goes from the 45 to the 49 yard line in this fashion. This enables him to not only continue scanning the field for options but also stay in tremendous control of his body ready to unleash the fury.
Here is where the magic of this new & improved Jamaal Charles really starts to show itself. Granted, I had him on my 2013 All-Movement Team at the RB position along with last year’s Mover of the Year, LeSean McCoy. However, in the past two years since Charles has come off knee surgery he has still been a little too hesitant to perform rapid and sharp cutting actions from a lower center-of-mass position with greater knee flexion…that is, till this season (as we saw in Week 7’s breakdown).
I should say that his crossover cut to reacceleration has been the best in the league for some time, but he seems to finally be getting the confidence back to sit and dip into a quicker/deeper coil (both on inside and outside leg plant positions) and explode back out into reacceleration. And THIS movement pattern principle is exactly what we see coming up.
At the 49 yard line he has set-up maybe the most masterful mover on the defensive side of the ball in the entire league, Seahawks safety, Earl Thomas. Thomas covers ground on-field as well as any defender you will see and he was coming with a bead set firmly to lay a big hit on #25. However, Charles had much different thoughts. He throws his right foot down hard and plants his left spaced in front of the right ever so slightly to allow for good flexion at the knee on the left and then pushes that into a speed-crossover hybrid reacceleration that left Thomas coming up empty handed (this is not an easy feat!).
One of best features about having #25 carry the rock is the fact that he possesses world class speed so when he elects to cover ground quick…he covers a lot of it in a hiccup. But the best part of his new more coiled/loaded deceleration and planting motor actions in his cutting is he is also able to slow his speeds down much more proficiently than year’s past. What am I talking about here? Take a peek at Jamaal’s movement from the 46 down to the 44 yard lines where he executes a very similar speed-crossover as above but at even faster speeds, sharper cutting angles, and increased hip/knee flexion. This is where he would’ve executed a higher true crossover in the past which would not only be more risky on his knees but also allow less movement options. Instead, here it allows him to make another Seahawks defensive back look silly and end up with nothing but slowing him a down a bit!
You can see the simply incredible first step out of his plant and into reacceleration: speed that comes purely from his execution of sound mechanics and his comfort level in executing this pattern.
All that’s left now is to cover more ground with a lot of guys chasing him with compromised angles of attack on him…5 Seahawks to be exact. However, in the open field with an end zone within spitting distance is not somewhere you want to be with Jamaal Charles whose long strides and fast reactive ability allow him to do just unthinkable things in this situation.
However, if there’s any moral victories here for the Seahawks (newsflash: in the NFL there are NO victories of this sort that actually count) it’s that their Pro Bowl Safety, Kam Chancellor, was finally able to bring him down before he ended up in the end zone. However, I don’t think Chancellor (though a phenomenal player in his own right) is going to be using this on his highlight tape as you see Chiefs rookie, DeAnthony Thomas, running downfield blocking him for 15 or so yards. Note: DAT is probably outweighed by a good 45+ pounds by Chancellor.
Click here to watch this fantastic Charles’ play: