Game: Jets at Raiders
Play: Another week, another Raider making moves
What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?
Last week, rookie sensation Amari Cooper of the Oakland Raiders wowed me and our readers enough to get the nod as the top Movement play of week 7. Well, this week we are in for another dose of this movement medicine…same jersey colors, different jersey name & number. Week 8 found Cooper’s teammate, relatively national unknown, Taiwan Jones, scored his first career touchdown on a 59 yard catch and run that dazzled me and is sure to do the same to you.
As you’re about to find out, Jones’s play was more about his movement strategies than it was about his motor output (the actual displayed biomechanics). Though movement mastery is ultimately about the connection of both; the strategy usage along with the sensory & perceptual qualities that created it that we witnessed from #22 was simply stellar. Additionally, if you are a reader of this blog, you probably know that I often say that we are all compensators in movement…it just so happens that NFL players are the world’s best compensators…thus, what could lead to slightly dysfunctional behaviors or biomechanical tendencies in the average human being, sometimes ends up as a means for functional variability in the higher level athlete who has greater control & coordination in the movement environment.
What happened movement-wise on the play?
The major starting point of our last two plays of the week, Raider quarterback Derek Carr (who is quickly wowing in his own right), received the shotgun snap with his right foot on the right hash of the Raider’s 36 yard line. Taiwan Jones was lined up to Carr’s right and quickly became an outlet receiver turned big play after Carr’s quick read through his progression. Carr dumps the ball off of the Jones who received the ball at the 34 yard line and though he had some space to work with in front of him, it definitely didn’t look as though Jones was about to turn this simple dump off pass into the highlight reel of the week. But #22 had other thoughts about the matter.
Shortly after receiving the ball, you can see Jones already looking through his peripheral vision; quickly turn his head, lock his sight line onto reading the Jets backer who is rapidly approaching, and smoothly transition into his acceleration mechanics to attempt to get an angle on the Jets LB. Because #56 had pushed up field and already began to settle his feet, Jones has him right where he wants him. From the 34 to 41 yard line Jones hits the gas pedal hard. Much to Jones’s dismay, there was a little less space than he had anticipated and just enough for the Jets LB to get a piece of his Jones’s feet during his diving attempt at bringing him down. That all said though, Jones’s 5 yard acceleration burst to cover that tight of space in that little of time is quite impressive. The projection angles and front-side kinematics allows for this explosive outburst (though some tweaks & adjustments could be made to the biomechanics displayed at the ankle/foot).
After getting tripped up ever so slightly (but a little can be a lot in the NFL), Jones loses his balance and has to regain control of his base of support & center of gravity from the 40-45 yard line. However, look at the marvelous adjustment to his body position that he displays between the 45 and 46 yard lines. Note that in order to do this; he tightens up his stance to be within his base of support while at the same time coiling into greater flexion. This may slow his body (to a stop) but it keeps him on his feet and ready to make a subsequent move.
Because of the position that he ends up in, after regaining his balance, he then looks up and views the quickly pursuing Jets secondary member at the sideline. However, please take a moment to pause the video when Jones is on the 47 yard line. You will see a coiled & loaded athlete who even though he was off balance just moments ago, is now in a position to make another move and has a number of movement strategy options at this point. Jones elects to execute a quick lateral sidestepping action to allow this Jets defender by him quickly.
Next, you will see something you should be used to here at Football ‘Beyond the Stats’ and our plays of the week: Jones, like so many others highlighted here before, shows the mastery of controlling one’s body in space and time after deceleration or post-cut when he lands from his lateral sidestep and gets right back into reacceleration. However, remember what I said earlier about movement compensations…well, take a quick peek from the end zone camera view of his toeing out action in his first few steps in acceleration and let’s just say that in most guys, this degree of toeing out leads a little more to be desired as it quickly can lead to energy escape and mechanical stress upstream (usually at the knee). That all said, from his 48 to the Jet’s 48, he gives a quick burst while at the same time looking to set-up the last true potential deterrent between he and paydirt. And he does just that….
At the 47/48 yard line, Jones lays down the bonafide move of the day when he leaves the Jets defender stunned and coming up for air wondering what the heck just happened to the guy who was just in front of him! He actually starts this movement combination/sequence with the braking/cutting action of his right foot at the 48 yard line when he slightly widens his BOS, then throws his left foot out to widen out a little more (while lowering his COG with each step as well) and then turns this deceleration plant step into a power cut to reaccelerate with his inside foot (his right foot) around and past the frozen Jet’s defensive back. Ironically, this type of movement biodynamic structure is exactly what we attempt to allow to evolve in training through much of our open environment-type work with other opponents running at various speeds and angles (though I should note that I would do some things to attempt to get a little more optimal position & alignment from the hip down to the knee and to the toe).
From there, the moves for the day are done (wasn’t that enough for you?!) and it is then off to the races. Well, because Jones had already left most of the Jet’s most athletic guys dazed and confused over the previous 20 yards, there isn’t much left to do but hit the gas pedal and shift through the first few gears to get enough separation to high-step his way to his first career touchdown visit.
If you haven’t seen the play yet, check it out here: