2015 Play of the Week – Week 12

Game: Dolphins at Jets

Play: Chris Ivory at it yet again

Ivory 2 play pic 2

What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

For the first time in 2015, we have a repeat performer for the Movement Play of the Week; Chris Ivory of the New York Jets. Just a mere six weeks ago, Chris Ivory found himself onto the top spot with our Movement Play of the Week. Check it out here:

https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/2015-play-of-the-week-week-6/

With this nod yet again in week 12, Ivory finds himself in some rare territory and elite company as he joins superstars such as Antonio Brown, Julian Edelman, and Jamaal Charles as guys in past years to accomplish more than one Movement Play of the Week in a single season.

However, Ivory’s combination of power, burst, balance, and movement strategy on this play was so superb that it left this week’s play of the week as an almost no-brainer and was very well-earned. Overall, very few performers at the running back position this season have been as good as Chris Ivory in the movement department as the qualities listed above have enabled him to excel and perform at a very high level.

What happened movement-wise on the play?

Chris Ivory starts this play with his toes straddling the left hash of his own 39 yard line. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick receives the snap from under center and precedes to hand the ball off on his left to Ivory who has already taken a few short read, acceleration steps. Even before he takes the handoff, you can see Ivory briefly scanning the area in front of him looking for his best affordances for action.

After just four steps, Ivory quickly realizes that there is a free blitzing defender who has broken past the line of scrimmage and is occupying space in the Jet’s backfield before he (Ivory) can even attempt to get to this tactical spot and let any blocks within the play materialize.

However, because of Ivory’s very established deceleration mastery (hmm; building on our trend from last week), we see him make an early cutting action 3 yards behind the Jet’s LOS at the 39/38 yard line. Take a peek at how he strikes his left foot out wide, to increase his base of support in order to store energy, maintain balance, and put himself into a great position to make a quick lateral cutting action off of his left leg. At the end of his deceleration action and in the middle of the plant of his left foot, you can see him zeroing in on the defender with his eyes to gain understanding regarding what his plan of attack may be. This allows him to anticipate just enough as to where his opponent will be and sidestep him in a quick, lateral stepping action out of his grasp. This also allows Ivory to deflect and avoid any striking blow.

He takes two quick steps to his right though with a relatively high center of gravity position…however, that position quickly changes and his dips COG quickly as his right foot widens out BOS. This masterful transition step puts him in a position for very sharp and rapid re-acceleration (pause the video when his right foot is on the 34 yard line to check out the first step position & mechanics).

Ivory 2 play pic 1

However, due to the task constraint changes of the environment, this re-acceleration position and intentions around it are very short-lived. He gets to take 2 and half steps before absorbing more contact from Dolphins defenders (3 of them in fact!) who all appear to be in a fantastic position to have him dead in the water. However, Ivory has other thoughts; he keeps his legs moving while staying in a low pad level (low COG) to maintain balance even with all of the contact.

Ivory 2 play pic 4

After somehow narrowly escaping the arms of numerous Dolphins defenders Ivory takes on yet another white jersey.  And…you guessed it…again, he’s not close to being done. The balance and control of his steps that he displayed here is extraordinary. He takes a few additional short steps to get out of this last Dolphin threat (well the last one that will have a real shot at bringing him down) also while attempting to completely regain his balance and a stable enough of position to re-accelerate.

Miami Dolphins v New York Jets

As I noted in Week 6, for a big dude Ivory has deceiving short distance burst and mid-range speed. This is no doubt made possible by his specific motor potential (and strength qualities) but is displayed through crisp front-side mechanics with a decent amount of flexion through the hip and knee while the leg is in the front. Though he has some ‘skater-stride’ in early acceleration steps (as many guys who possess his antropometric features naturally do), he does straighten his steps out and get to a more linear line of action so little effort is wasted in any additional side-to-side swaying action, less energy is leaked/dissipated, and the entire action is relatively efficient (at least especially for a bigger dude). This is evident by the short ground contact time we see each time that his foot hits the ground and the high step frequency that we see as a by-product of his movement signature.

Either way, after he lays the hammer down on just 6 or so of these steps, it’s off to the races for him and he quickly finds himself all by his lonesome in the open field headed for a house call.

To watch this fantastic display of well-rounded movement from Ivory, click here:

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-cant-miss-plays/0ap3000000590335/Can-t-Miss-Play-Chris-Ivory-will-not-be-brought-down

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