2015 Play of the Week – Week 3

Game: Falcons at Cowboys

Play: Randle showing off the nifty footwork & body control

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 27: Joseph Randle #21 of the Dallas Cowboys crosses the goal line to score a touchdown between Robert Alford #23 and Desmond Trufant #21 of the Atlanta Falcons as Devin Street #15 of the Dallas Cowboys follows in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

If you watched NFL football yesterday you were probably just waiting to see yet another proficient spin move thinking that would immediately push that given play onto the list of this week’s Movement Play of the Week contenders after the past few weeks’ top performers.

But, for the first time in the 2015 season, we have a top Movement Play that did NOT contain a spin move from the player laying down that sweet movement action. Instead, we again see a movement skill trend that made those aforementioned spin moves possible show itself during the play that I selected as this week’s best when in the form of controlled & proficient deceleration movement mechanics.

These deceleration mechanics, along with some of the best footwork and body control (especially during lateral movement) you will see on a week to week basis at any level of football, was displayed by Joseph Randle of the Dallas Cowboys. Thus, he is awarded this week’s very prestigious top Movement Play.

As is the case on most NFL weeks, there were some other standout plays that could be deemed worthy of contention including AD28 showing that he is definitely back during his stiff-arm, to sharp cut, to high step touchdown run (that sentence is something that readers may want to get used to hearing as it may happen a few more times this season). Additionally, Sunday saw both AJ Green & Julio Jones just flat-out go off (in the same game as our breakdown) and some tremendous kinesthetic sense & awareness shown on a number of occasions by both wide receivers and defensive backs. However, when all was said and done, the efficiency & effectiveness that Joseph Randle displayed on one of his three touchdown runs was too much to overlook.

What happened movement-wise on the play?

On the play, out of the I-formation, Cowboy RB Joseph Randle takes the hand-off from the Romo replacement, Brandon Weeden, between the 41 and 42 yard line headed off-tackle to the right.

Many backs across the League attempt to hit this type of play with a head of steam but in recent years Cowboy backs are notoriously patient while allowing what is likely the best O-line in the League to do their job in front of them. And Randle, like the backs that have come before him in the system (namely last year’s rushing champ, DeMarco Murray), does the same and remains patient & under control while he’s still behind the line of scrimmage. In situations such as this, where there is a decent degree of push up-front from the defensive line and thus, guys getting pushed back into the running back’s locomotion, it allows the back to navigate through the traffic in an efficient position while remaining ready to explode when the opportunity arises.

Randle pic 3

Taking that another step further, you can see this come to fruition when Randle passes the 40 yard line and a Falcons defender is waiting & in pursuit at the 39. Having been in the more coiled position (rather than a more “committed to the hole” RB who would be more extended because of his acceleration mechanics) then allows Randle to optimally throw his left down rapidly and execute a quick lateral side-stepping action. When you see it from an end zone angle you can see the path of his locomotion go from narrow (more on a line) to wide quickly (with his left foot widening his base of support). This type of transitional movement action, often goes un-talked about (maybe even un-noticed by many) and under-developed in most training/practice structures but it is the key to the effective movement we see later. Because it is a transitional movement, it is not something that he is necessarily trying to jump into or out of. Instead, he is trying to put himself into a position to get free from the opponent’s pursuit (#52 for the Falcons). Of course, the #52 does get a piece of him here, but not enough to bring him down and because of the opportunely-timed lateral stepping action, Randle is in a position to remain on his feet and come to balance effectively.

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 27:  Joseph Randle #21 of the Dallas Cowboys gets past Paul Worrilow #55 of the Atlanta Falcons to score a touchdown in the first quarter as Travis Frederick #72 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on in the the first quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

After regaining his balance, his vision is focused on the additional opponent debris that is in front of him along with his teammate who blocked that debris (aka the opponent) who still had a chance to make a play if Randle didn’t remain under control. Fortunately for him, like he did just a few steps earlier, he doesn’t panic and instead takes a condensed stutter-type step with his left foot which allows him to get a just barely wide enough base of support to create a sharper force vector from the exertion of the left leg to be carried over into a crossover lateral cutting action (yet still very controlled).

Once he executes this crossover, like with the spin moves of the past weeks, or really any deceleration and cutting movement action, the purpose is to be in an effective position to get back to one’s reacceleration mechanics. As you can see here, Randle quickly does just that and covers the next 5 years in a hurry till at the 33/34 yard line he has to execute a subtle open-field crossover action (but at a relatively high velocity) to get himself headed north.

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 27: Joseph Randle #21 of the Dallas Cowboys runs for the end zone to score a touchdown past Desmond Trufant #21 of the Atlanta Falcons in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

At this point then, Randle presses the gas pedal hard and gets into some crisp & clean, efficient linear running mechanics.  We always hear it purported that “speed kills”…however, in this circumstance, like with most of our Movement Plays of the Week, you can see this is a bit of a misnomer, as it is more accurate to say that “acceleration kills”…as if it weren’t for Randle’s rapid acceleration ability (check out the short distance linear mechanics) he wouldn’t have gained the quick separation from the Falcons defenders and ended up anywhere near paydirt. But, as you can see, this acceleration gave him more than enough distance to work with and even though Falcons defenders ended up getting their hands on him it wasn’t until the end of the play and after he had already turned a rather simple off-tackle play into a house call.

No spin move…but a spectacular play with very efficient movement behaviors nonetheless. Check it out:



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