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: Cowboys at Giants
Play: Beckham doing unheard of things for a rookie (or anyone)
What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?
Dear Odell Beckham, Jr.
Thank you very much for making my job this week easy.
In all seriousness though, if you haven’t seen this week’s play of the week yet, are you currently living under a rock? The New York Giants rookie receiver leaped, laid out, contorted, and concentrated himself to come down with one of the filthiest catches your eyes will ever see at any level of football…and in the process he nearly broke Twitter and the whole damn internet.
Granted, there were a number of other stand-out plays this week such as last year’s Top Mover LeSean McCoy finally finding his step yesterday to break a shifty run and Browns RB Isaiah Crowell running wild against the Falcons. But the thing is Beckham’s play was simply too damn good to pass it up today. However, I know that everyone and their brother (and sister, mother, and father too) will be highlighting it this week so I am going to put a little different spin on my analysis below.
What happened movement-wise on the play?
What more can be said about this catch/play that hasn’t already been said or is being said on sports news networks everywhere today? What OBJ did in this play needs to be seen to be believed. Once you watch it once, I dare you to try to avoid watching it a second time (this is as impossible as the catch itself was).
As you can see, Beckham displays truly rare athleticism; some which can be coached, and some that is only gifted by the man above.
To be wearing a defensive back (who got called for pass interference on the play to add insult to injury), leave one’s feet, locate a ball that is not thrown to the most optimal spot for your liking, and literally snatch the ball out of the thin air back behind you with three fingers while ensuring that you come down in the paint of the end zone is something that even the rare walking among us (the 1,696 in the NFL) have a hard time completing. The sequence of local events that led to the completion of the act is something to marvel at.
However, I think it would be foolish to say that a catch like this can just happen out of some sheer strike of luck or by some miracle. There’s much more to it; it’s obvious to me that Beckham takes the development and mastery of the detailed aspects of his craft very seriously…and it’s paying dividends for the impression he is making in the League right now.
If you’re a football enthusiast, it’s likely that your phone was blowing up with text messages and Twitter-feed updates after the catch occurred. When that social media was in full effect, I actually tweeted out something along the lines of, “Yes, OBJ is a physical freak of nature but it’s not these things which allow him to stand out above others. It’s his mastery of fundamentals i.e. his work on his hands and his route running that allows him to do that.”
Over the last few weeks, I have seen a number of clips and heard a couple of stories about OBJ and his pregame rituals of catching balls in awkward and one-handed fashions. And this is the thing that I think people need to appreciate and sit in awe with as it shows the intention in work and attention to detail that is required to perform at the highest levels of one’s potential.
I am constantly talking here on Beyond the Stats as well as directly to my players: we are what we repeatedly do…we must truly gain mastery over the key aspects of what our game’s movement skill requirements are formed by…blah blah blah (at least that’s what many of my players hear when I say it).
THIS deliberate intention and effort towards developing those skills paid off on Beckham’s astounding catch in Week 12. However, I don’t think that it stops at his hands as I believe we can see it showing in his route running habits & behaviors. Thus far, he has absolutely worked some of the game’s best (including one Richard Sherman a number of weeks ago) in his short time in the NFL with his supreme route running skills which display a crispness to them that exudes sheer mastery in movement.
Right now, the only player that I can personally think of who can decelerate, stop on a dime, and come out of breaks as rapidly as Beckham is Pittsburgh Steeler WR, Antonio Brown, who I highlighted a number of weeks during a Play of the Week for this movement characteristic.
All in all, was Beckham’s catch in Week 12 the best you’ve ever seen? Maybe/maybe not. But it just doesn’t matter. That’s purely semantics. What we must realize is what allows him to do what does on the field (as this is always the purpose here at Football BTS). And if you want to do the fancy stuff, it’s imperative that you master the details of the fundamentals first. It is then, and only then, that you can ‘wow’ people with the types of highlights that OBJ producing last night and likely will continue to do during his takeover of the National Football League.