2015 Play of the Week – Week 6

Game: Redskins at Jets

Play: Sitting atop the Ivory tower of RBs

Ivory play pic 2

What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

For as many plays as we were able to highlight last week, it seems as though we were left with a bit of a shortage of spectacular wow-type plays here in Week 6 of the season. That is really with the exception of what one player was able to do and the special things that he is currently in the midst of. This player: Chris Ivory, RB of the New York Jets.

Believe it or not, it would be hard to argue with someone if they were to say that Chris Ivory has been the best RB in the League through this first stretch of the season. Sure; Devonta Freeman has been a scoring machine and because of the fantasy football world that we all live in, he has captured much of the major positional buzz. However, Chris Ivory, currently averages more than 30 yards per outing more than Freeman.

And of course, that’s if we are looking at the statistics. However, sticking with the namesake of this blog, we take things Beyond the Stats when we look at the efficiency & effectiveness of a player’s movement skills, strategies, and patterns. In this regards, Ivory also currently rivals the likes of guys such as Freeman and is hot on the heels of the Le’Veon Bell’s of the world (though as I mentioned last week Le’Veon could be the early front runner for our Mover of the Year award).

However, though Ivory ripped off a long run with some nifty cuts in the 2nd quarter of the Jet’s two touchdown victory over the Redskins, it wasn’t that one singular play that really afforded him this week’s nod for the Movement Play of the Week. Instead, it was the whole kit & caboodle of the body of movement work that he is crafting up for us all. Thus, this will be our movement breakdown of the week.

What happened movement-wise on the play?

Instead of going through the one play step-by-step I want to shed awareness on some of the movement-related things that are allowing Ivory to be so special this season.

Stopping on a Dime

I have said it here on this blog more than once: how someone stops sets the tone for how well they change direction or restart. Additionally, at most of the ‘skill’ positions, the movement skill of deceleration is the ability that separates the exceptional movers from the merely good ones. Yet, for as true as these statements are, this skill is not only under-appreciated but also goes underdeveloped in most movement skill acquisition circles. This is a bit of a head-scratcher, huh? No matter which way you cut it, being able to stop on a dime is the key to efficient football movement!

I have watched a number of Jet games and have seen Ivory doing work. In each of those games his deceleration ability immediately jumps off the screen at me. I don’t know if he explicitly works on his deceleration ability in his own training & development or not, but I can see that somehow through experience (whether explicitly or implicitly taught) he has the ability masterfully control his body to stop in an efficient and effective position which allows him to frequently keep his movement strategy degrees of freedom open. Because of this, he is not only able to more efficiently reaccelerate but he is also able to get out of compromising scenarios and/or positions more readily.

Ivory play pic 1

Watch the video below and take a peek at Ivory’s body position when completely to a complete stop (which he had to do on a # of instances) or in the last two steps before any plant of a cutting action. You will see an athlete who is coiling and loading well able to have full control of his body’s center of gravity.

Diverse Cutting Techniques

Bruce Lee once said something along the lines of, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced once kick 10,000 times.” With all due respect to one of my movement idols, that may apply in some forms of martial arts but it does not apply in the art of being an agile mover on a football field.

Yes, mastery comes through the proficiency of the technical execution of given movement patterns. However, because of the ideas of Authentic Movement Signatures and Movement Variability, we know that no two cutting movement solutions will ever be exactly the same on a football field due to the extreme amount of variability in the problems found from one’s opponents on the field. That said an agile mover must be able to read, recognize, and react accordingly to this diversity found within the problems in a diverse & adaptable fashion.

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Ivory has showed this particular quality over and over again this season and it was on display in not only the toss that went for big yardage but also in a number of other scenarios on Sunday. Of course, having a naturally low center of gravity to allow for a wider base of support helps his cause here too. That said though, he can cut from numerous positions (high or low, narrow or wide, feet balanced or staggered) equally well.

Short to Midrange Acceleration Burst

Though no one will ever accuse Chris Ivory of rivaling Chris Johnson in a 40 yard dash, his burst in short distance has allowed him to make many plays that many other RBs wouldn’t (of course being in an optimal position pre-acceleration also helps!). This is that much more impressive when we factor into the equation that Ivory is 220+ pounds!

Ivory play pic 5

However, it’s his intention combined with his sharp frontside mechanics that help create the immediacy of his acceleration burst (and the force vector that goes along with it). When his hip gets flexed (and his hip/knee/ankle are cocked out in front of him) it’s like a damn jackhammer as he makes the decision to slam it back down back and away from him into the turf or grass. His speed in the short to midrange then becomes deceiving and it allows him to get angles on defensive players that are advantageous for the numerous big plays that he has already made this season.

All in all, I have enjoyed watching Chris Ivory perform this season and hope he can continue this string of proficient movement the remainder of the season.

To watch each of the Chris Ivory plays from Sunday in all of their glory, click here:

http://www.nfl.com/videos/new-york-jets/0ap3000000559834/Chris-Ivory-highlights

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