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 Cardinals
Play: Several Seahawks Shine in Sunday Showdown
What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?
Earlier last week, I remember thinking to myself: how come there hasn’t seemed to be as many spectacular runs this season as there was last year? Well, it seems as though I spoke the display we witnessed this week into existence when Colin Kaepernick, Eddie Lacey, and Joique Bell all delivered runs that in most weeks would’ve been well worthy of receiving the Play of the Week.
In fact, going into last night’s NFC West showdown I was debating between those three mentioned plays as to which one offered up the most efficient and dynamic of movement proficiency. Of course, that was until several Seattle Seahawks decided to steal the Play of the Week nod right from their fingertips. Granted, this is Play of the Week…not PlayS of the Week…however, both offered a little different something that greatly excited this Movement Specialist so I had to go ahead and give the nod to both of them from their stellar efforts. These two were none other than Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson.
Though Marshawn Lynch was apparently battling stomach illness, he remedied that with handfuls upon handfuls of Skittles and he magically became good-to-go for producing one of his most memorable runs ever. Shortly thereafter, Russell Wilson was not to be outdone by his RB (OK; maybe he was outdone a little) when he performed a nifty little touchdown scamper complete with a feint & fake and then a flashy cut to leave a Pro Bowl level DB laying on the ground.
What happened movement-wise on the play?
Unless you don’t watch a single highlight from NFL football games, it’s likely that you have seen Marshawn’s Beastmode run from last night several times already. Many people are already comparing the run to Lynch’s Quake run in the playoffs against the Saints a handful of years ago. However, though equally as ‘beastly’, I would propose that from a movement standpoint, the 2014 rendition of Beastmode may actually be even better!
Lynch, not necessarily one of the most efficient of movers at the position is definitely still one of the more effective. That said, he typically finds his effectiveness through powerful and punishing runs that leave no one wanting to tackle him…on this play this aspect is no different…except, he shows some of the impressive movement dynamics of a quicker, scattier type of RB throughout this play.
Lynch begins the play lined up 7 yards deep behind his QB. After he receives the ball from Wilson, he approaches his own 20 yard line when he already has to throw down a unilateral jump cut variety (which he is one of the better jump cutters in the League) behind the line of scrimmage to give himself both some time for a lane to open up as well as to place himself in a more efficient position to hit that hole with his normal notorious aggression.
Though Lynch is a thicker, muscularly-built back, he uses some very sharp plant foot/leg angles going from his right foot and then quickly over to his left. From that left leg plant, he gets himself moving with a reacceleration power step (where the inside leg/right leg coils quickly and extends/lands back behind him powerfully). This gets him moving quickly through the hole though one Cardinals Defensive Lineman gets his hands on him just enough to slow him down.
After he gets out of the defender’s brief grasp while utilizing tremendous visual scanning, perception, decision-making, and overall instinct (proof of his high movement mastery level), he controls his steps to set-up his body to keep his options open for a wide freedom of motion at his fingertips. At about the 27/28 yard line, Lynch sees a wide open area of green grass to his right which could be used precisely for a cutback through the backside of the defense. The only thing really stopping him from doing so was my top Cornerback mover from 2013, Patrick Peterson. However, PP-21 really had zero desire to attempt to single-handily bring down Lynch without the help of his buddies (which was soon to be on display in this play).
Lynch uses a relatively high but controlled crossover cut to get himself off to the races one and one with the very athletic Peterson. In a straight-line head-to-head race, you should always place your money on Peterson. However, on a field and with the advantage of a slight angle and already moving body as the instrument, Lynch wins this race and eclipses a good chunk of real estate with crisp & powerful horizontally projecting accelerating mechanics.
When Peterson does catch up to Lynch (after he finally gets the angle thanks to the sideline), #24 doesn’t appear to be overly happy about it (as he never is when a defender thinks he can tackle him…especially a cover corner at that). Peterson ‘attempts’ to force the turnover while punching at the ball when he probably should’ve just gone for his feet to actually tackle him instead…this causes him to end up very high on Lynch trying to bring him down to the ground which is one place that no one in the world should ever desire to be with Marshawn Lynch! Because of this, Lynch gets to physically toy with Peterson for about 8-10 yards. Another Arizona defender then catches up to the fun and tries to help his buddy out to no avail.
After Lynch’s enjoyment is over, he then has to concern himself with staying in the field of play. He is able to do so with some pretty graceful steps for a big dude due to some fantastic kinesthetic sense & awareness and pushes that grace into a crossover to reaccelerate back into the middle of the field.
Then, the only thing left from here is for jaws to drop for the last 30 yards leaving on-lookers wondering if what they just saw is real. Of course, upset stomach or not, no one was going to catch Marshawn Lynch at this point…not tonight…and not on any night after what he had just gone through. Thus, he finds his own unique way of celebrating his incredible house call as he dives into the end zone grabbing a handful of his uniform (or something).
If you’ve been living under a rock and have yet to see Lynch’s run, you can watch it right now:
In comparison to Marshawn’s 79 yard powerful and aggressive run, his Quarterback’s 6 yard variety may appear to be simple and lackluster. However, to someone with an eye for movement proficiency and on-field strategy use, the run was anything but lacking.
Wilson’s run occurred on a designed bootleg to his left after a play action to get the flow of the entire play (and most of the defense) going right first. As soon as #3 gets rolling, he realizes that a Cardinals LB had performed his role of a spy on the hyper mobile Quarterback. However, the role of actually containing Wilson is a whole different animal in and of itself as he soon would realize (don’t worry buddy…many have failed before and will again).
Though I am not a Quarterback expert by any means, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Wilson is one of the best in the game (if not the very best) at moving in space while looking downfield to try and make a play with his receivers. Once Wilson gets out there, he knows he must do something to freeze the spying LB so he is able to open up the options around him. He executes this move with a brief (but oh so damn calm) hesitation at around the 16 yard line. This is plenty to get the LB off-balance and reeling…knowing that he is about to lose any outside containment that he once had once the play at began.
At this point, that hesitation move froze the LB for long enough to give Wilson enough separation to commit to turning that slight bootleg scramble into a full-fledge tote to paydirt. With the LB off-balanced, Russell puts a quick but relatively subtle stiff-arm into his helmet (as if a stiff-arm can really ever be ‘subtle’) to push him down onto the ground.
From there, #3 hits his gas pedal a bit and luckily for him has solid acceleration to handle most of the opponents he will find around these parts of the field (till he gets down the field a bit that is). All in all though, this then gives Wilson even more space to operate within as well as only one true tackling threat to beat en route to the end zone. This defender just happened to be former Pro Bowler, Antonio Cromartie.
Cromartie is a big corner (6’2” and 210lb) who has solid movement skills for a guy that size playing on the outside. However, as Wilson shows, with the optimal use of the right movement strategies, it’s definitely possible for a slightly less athletic mover to neutralize a more athletic opponent in the open field if you set him up accordingly.
This set-up went down as Wilson began his coiled but wide lateral stutter stepping deceleration mechanics at the 7/6 yard line. Once he plants his right leg hard (as if he could potentially go back inside), he realizes that he has Cromartie froze enough to execute back to the outside. His rear acceleration step is more of the transitional execution nature here where he steps longer and with more upright/vertical projection in contrast to a more committed reacceleration power step. This type of step allowed him to stay open to anything that may occur with Cromartie (i.e. if Wilson had underestimated what the feint/fake had done). Overall though, his gave him plenty of room to work himself into the end zone with ease after beating Cromartie.
To watch this nifty little run by Wilson, click below right here: