2015 Play of the Week – Week 1

Game: Vikings at 49ers

Play: Anything Braxton can do Hyde can do better

Sep 14, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde (28) dives for a touchdown with a block from quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) against the Minnesota Vikings during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

The 2015 NFL season is here and we are back at it for yet another year! Though I got myself and my movement analysis game on-point last week with my breakdown of the dazzling Braxton Miller spin move, anytime you move onto the regular season the stakes get raised and a higher amount of excitement follows.

As usual, the opening weekend of the NFL season didn’t disappoint or offer any shortage of spectacular plays. Yet, there were a number of stand-outs.

For starters, there was Tavon Austin with a few nifty plays en route to his Ram’s upset of the Seahawks (is anything in the NFL really an upset these days?). Next, rookie RB, Ameer Abdullah, of the Detroit Lions, dropped jaws on his first NFL carry when he left All-Pro Safety, Eric Weddle, grasping for nothing but air. After that play, I even tweeted that I was looking forward to a play that could outshine that one but I doubted that there would be one. Little did I know that I was going to be proven wrong when a play occurred that had some eerie similarities to my exhibition done with Braxton Miller last week.

You should know by now that I am equal opportunity movement aficionado…and that I don’t have a bias when it comes to my recognition of spectacular movement on football field. Well, the player I was left most impressed by over opening weekend was Carlos Hyde of the San Francisco 49ers. Of course, it just so happened to be that he was playing against the Minnesota Vikings and numerous guys that I know and/or have personally worked with. But, I want to give credit where credit is due and Carlos Hyde was absolutely incredible (his offensive line was pretty stellar too). One play in particular, his spin move touchdown in the 2nd quarter, was more special than all others and it’s this week’s Movement Play of the Week.

P.S. Is this going to be the year of the spin move or what?!

What happened movement-wise on the play?

This game was billed as the return of All-Day 28 (Adrian Peterson) after his nearly year-long hiatus…but it was the takeover of another #28 that on this day would reign supreme. Of course, if someone didn’t stay up to watch the game and they simply looked at the box score & scoring summary this morning, they would see a simple touchdown from 10 yards out by Hyde. But…this doesn’t even begin to do justice to how special this play and the moves that it contained were.

The play begins with Carlos Hyde taking the hand-off from QB, Colin Kaepernick, at around the 14 yard line with moving to his right to pursue running room off-tackle. After 2 read-transition steps, Hyde realizes that the Vikings defensive line (who on most nights are stellar across the 4 of them) had snuffed it out and bottled things up well…at least initially.

The great thing about Hyde’s first 3 steps here is that, unlike most running backs who over-commit & attempt to accelerate hard right from the start, he remains patient and coiled biomechanically in order to keep his freedom of movement options open. Thus, when his right guard and tackle get pushed back into his lap in the backfield, he’s able to be in an efficient position for changing direction effectively.

The outside foot plant & power cut that he makes while straddling the 13 yard line may look relatively routine but it was one where many Backs try to perform with too narrow of base and too high of center of gravity in order to quickly change direction (but that often backfires as they have no stored energy and are operating against biomechanical truths). Instead, Hyde creates an ‘upside down funnel’ with his body here, and plants his right foot far out away from his vertical line; this body positioning then allows him to slice inward to his left with a powerful left foot reacceleration action instead of continuing to bounce it out wider to his right.

He strikes his left down hard into reacceleration to try to get north up the field when his eyes pop up, and theoretically out of his peripheral vision to his left side, he sees Everson Griffen quickly pursuing to close the gap and deter Hyde’s path to paydirt. Now, let me tell you from extensive knowledge knowing and working with Everson, he is not your ordinary Defensive End. Though he still has some slight movement deficiencies particularly in his force absorption in lateral actions such as this, he is as athletic as nearly any DE playing in the League. So, it’s not like Hyde is about to posterize just some ‘slappy’ here.

Hyde pic 7

Realizing his affordance for action in this situation (with his perception he is able to understand he has only one option and it’s to now cut it sharply back to his left), Hyde slices with his right foot again out far & away from his vertical line. And also yet again (like he did earlier in this play with a slightly different movement scenario), this foot strikes with what you can tell as an observer is a tremendous amount of pre-activity where energy is already stored in the limb and ready to propel him in an opposite direction. Like with the Braxton Miller spin move last week, he just happened to coordinate this movement action & strategy in a very unique fashion aka the spin move that we witnessed.

Because of that stored energy, and the supreme body control and movement coordination that Hyde displayed, the spin movement action is able to be executed fluidly as the energy from the force absorption on his right leg pre-spin is absorbed, stabilized, and released quickly.

Hyde pic 6

Unlike Miller’s spin last week, Hyde had less dissipation of energy prior to the spin. However, like Miller, post-spin, Hyde was able to quickly get right into his reacceleration mechanics. And this is a very, very good thing! I always tell my NFL players that we work on deceleration and cutting mechanics as much as we do with the sole purpose of getting back to acceleration as efficiently as possible. And unlike playing against Virginia Tech, Hyde has 11 NFL players who are also supremely fast in space all still coming with a singular purpose to take him out before he scores 6. However, because the play was initially moving right coupled with the fact that no one in purple could’ve really expected Hyde to make the move that he did, with a few blocks by his receivers, tight ends, and kinda-sorta his quarterback (okay; not really), he had a pretty clear path to the end zone. However, for good measure and to put a cherry on top of this week’s best play, he dove from the 2 yard line to plunge into the end zone.

Hyde pic 3

All night Carlos Hyde was moving in short or tight spaces with very efficient and coiled biomechanics. He also utilizing a very wide base of support and lowering his center of gravity as well as any player I watched this past weekend (and I watched the film from all but 3 games). As Movement Specialists these are the types of outputs that we usually look to, but in most of the instances of its display, it’s actually the athlete’s information-movement/perception-action coupling that makes the use of those biomechanics so efficient and even possible. And on this play, Hyde’s perception of the ever-changing environment of the task, along with the selection of the most optimal biomechanics to correspond to it, is what makes this play so special.

The year of the spin has begun…as you can tell by watching this week’s play of the week in action:



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