Game: 3 noteworthy games (but 5 plays!)
Play: So much good can come on a Sunday (or Monday)
What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?
It seems that every year there comes an NFL Sunday (or Monday especially when Le’Veon Bell & Antonio Brown happening to be playing) when the list of choices for the most proficient movement display of the week just become too long and I must give the nod to more than one deserving play and player.
Last year however this case didn’t occur until we were in Week 10 of the season. Here were the worthy candidates from that week in 2014 for comparison.
This year it just so happened to be that (like last year) each play brought something unique to the table from a movement efficiency & proficiency standpoint. This is obviously what made the decision so difficult and I think you will be able to see where I’m coming from. The plays included:
-Julian Edelman against the Cowboys
-Dion Lewis against the Cowboys
-Earl Thomas against the Bengals
-Thomas Rawls against the Bengals
-Le’Veon Bell against the Chargers (good thing I waited till Tuesday to write this)
What happened movement-wise on the play?
Instead of breaking down each play, step-by-step, in its intricate entirety, I will point out what makes the play so special & different from all others that we would see on typical Sundays. Then, from there, I will let you watch the video of each so you can also be enamored by the movement mastery displayed by each respective player.
Edelman at it again…and again
One of my favorite movers in the entire League was at again on Sundays…not just once but twice (and that’s being generous as if we aren’t talking about the more routine efficient actions he performs as well). Last year I ranked Julian Edelman as one of my top 3 movers at the WR position (along with Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham) and people seemed somewhat confused by it. Well, if you watch football closely at all…you should be able to realize why he’s that high up on my list and should be used as an example for individuals looking at the movement behaviors which lead to efficient biomechanics.
The first play was one where I want you to note:
-How quickly and rapidly Edelman anticipates and then reacts to the snap which allows him just a split second worth of time to get an advantage over unsuspecting DBs
-The position of the first move he makes (which occurred from his stance). He quickly loads to his outside hip, knee, and ankle at a relatively wide foot-strike (considering the circumstances). This is enough to get the defender thinking that he’s going for an outside release. When Edelman comes back inside, the defender is already toasted.
-Once he makes the catch, knowing the situation, Edelman has a distinct advantage one-on-one with a safety in the open field and in a speed cutting type fashion. Thus, you can see Edelman set his guy up when they are still 5-7 yards apart. Note the feint/fake action that he quickly works side to side just to get the slight hesitation. His feet then follow the feint/fake at the shoulders & head. Thus, this move is enough to help him pick up a few additional yards as well as get himself into a safe position to absorb contact from the pursuing Cowboys defenders.
To add insult to injury (and also to nearly cement his status as one of the top 3 movers at the WR position), Edelman decided to end the game with this dandy, as well:
On this play, of course, we could begin by pointing out the blown coverage and the half-hearted tackling efforts of the Cowboys defense. However, instead, let’s marvel at the open field speed crossover cut that he executes at the 32 yard line. Due to both the angle of pursuit by the Cowboy’s DB as well as Edelman’s cutting proficiency, you can see the coiled deceleration in his penultimate step (the 2nd to the last step before the cut occurs) as well as in the actual cut plant step on his right leg. This allows him to not only perform the cut efficiently and safely but positions him quickly into solid reacceleration mechanics which we could see allows him to make the rest of the play occur as he has just enough speed built up to break both tackles en-route to the paydirt.
New addition to the movement party
Coming from the same game as the first play of today’s discussion, relatively-new Patriot RB, Dion Lewis, continued to make a name for himself not only across the League but also as a representative for what this blog page stands for: quality, efficient movement showing the understanding of kinesiological concepts & principles! I have been highly impressed by Lewis thus far this season and it continued on Sunday.
Beyond the one handed catch he made to start the play, Lewis’s kinesthetic sense/awareness, balance, and positioning is superb (not to mention his individual effort!). As you can see, at one point right prior to the cut occurs, Lewis actually hop-stops into the cut. This type of jump cut is something that we would typically see from very dynamic movers like Percy Harvin & Adrian Peterson. As long as the athlete performs this action at the right moment in time (though that isn’t easy to do), this type of cutting action typically leaves a defender questioning the back’s next move and requires just enough hesitation then.
In this case, the defender does get a significant piece of Lewis. However, due to both the inside pressure he finds himself on and the shin angle of the cut (on his left leg), Lewis is able to quickly regain balance (even when other Cowboy’s get physical with him) and get back to accelerating up-field.
Part of what makes Earl unique
The reigning BTS Mover of the Year, Earl Thomas, finds himself in a familiar spot…being written about on a blog here.
Of course, I am a huge fan of what Earl is capable of in his movement strategies and the corresponding movement mechanics he displays each week. The layperson probably has a hard time understanding this unless you watch the All-22 film and can truly see him roam the field as efficiently as he does and as so few others can. On this play, Earl showed more of what makes him different from the rest.
On this play, not only can we see the supreme athleticism of Earl after the interception but we also see the true mastery of him as a defensive back (wait till the 2nd camera view for this). The combination and connection of his reading, recognizing, and reacting ability tied together through his brain, his behaviors, and then his biomechanics is something to behold. It was because of this sensory-perceptual ability that the interception actually ended up being a relatively easy one even though it wasn’t against one of the current hottest QB & WR tandems in the League.
From Rawl to Rawl (get it?! Haha)
Coming again from the same game as the play mentioned right prior to this, we again find a Seattle Seahawk in this driver’s seat. Let’s face it; we all know what Marshawn Lynch aka Beastmode is capable of when running the football for the Seattle Seahawks. Well, it’s been said across certain circles that Thomas Rawls can be looked at as a Mini-Beastmode and on Sunday he got his opportunity to put this on display against the Bengals. Though Seattle ultimately lost versus the undefeated Bengals, Rawls did his part and laid down some nasty movement in the process highlighted but this play of the day.
On this play, from a movement standpoint I want you to note three main things:
- The initial lunge cut at the line of scrimmage to get Rawls into the open field. The play is obviously completely sold and blocked by the O-line, but Rawls throwing down the lunge cut to stop on a dime and get back moving in a hiccup allows him to get an early angle on the Bengals defender who stayed home to spy on Wilson.
- Just 5 yards later, at the 35 yard line, Rawls makes a crossover cut that changes his locomotion angle by around 45 degrees. The plant wasn’t performed at the highest of speeds (due to the situation and him continuing to keep his movement options open around him) but he is in an optimal position for reacceleration.
- Then another 5 yards later than that, this time at the 40 yard line, he then performs another more dynamic cut which happens to be a combination of a speed and power cut with an outside foot plant but because of the speed that he had already attained (as he attempts to break it to the boundary), he found an optimal balance between the width of his base of support and the depth of his center of gravity.
Le’Veon Bell doing Le’Veon Bell things
Last, but certainly not least on the docket, we come to Le’Veon. Having missed the first two games of the season (not injury related), one of the game’s best backs (and maybe the current best mover at the position) is quickly making his presence felt as expected. He not only did this on Monday night when he lined up in the shotgun & took the direct snap to beat the Chargers, but it seemed as though he displayed it play after play from a dynamic movement control standpoint throughout the remainder of the game. If there were an early favorite to dethrone Earl as the game’s most masterful mover, I would say it’s LB-26.
Rather than show you just the one or two plays, I would implore you to take a few extra moments out of your day to watch everything Le’Veon had up his sleeve for the Chargers.
Right now, let’s call a spade a spade here: Le’Veon may be the only one walking the face of the planet that is capable of performing some of these movement actions in the fashion you see above. It’s that authentic! Thus, young RBs: “do NOT attempt to copy any of these patterns as the ideal as you likely are not capable of executing in this way!”
That said, unlike many super efficient, dynamic movers at the position, he isn’t a slasher in the traditional sense who gets wide, low, and angling when he changes direction in many cases. Instead, he stays so active with his feet while keeping his hips and knees slightly coiled (bent) so he is able to rapidly throw either foot into the ground when the time arises and get where the defenders aren’t. Of course, his tremendous reactive ability allows him to be able to almost spring onto and off of the ground in some of those cases while not losing much energy (instead, storing it, stabilizing it, and releasing it quickly).