Game: Colts at Steelers
Play: AB84 earning movement style points…till maybe the goalpost celebration that is
What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?
Last week, Chris Ivory became the first player to find himself atop the Movement Play of the Week totem pole for the second time in the 2015 season. This week, we have another repeat performer who is one of the most frequently featured here on Beyond the Stats; Pittsburgh Steelers WR, Antonio Brown.
If you want to give a quick rewind, you can see that Antonio won our POW in week 2 of this season for his fantastic spin moves and much more that he laid down at the feet of the 49ers:
Additionally, as you can see below, Brown was actually our 2014 season recipient of the top Movement Play of the Year last season:
Now, it may seem as though I am giving AB84 too much love…but take a peek at this extraordinary play from Sunday night’s game and I think you will agree that he is more than deserving of such accolade. Additionally, we may all be hard pressed to find a more proficient & masterful mover in all of the NFL right now so we should all sit back and enjoy the authenticity and creativity that Brown brings to his craft.
What happened movement-wise on the play?
Late in the 4th quarter, with the game well in-hand, I knew I continued to watch for a reason. Not only can I never truly get enough football movement break-down, but I was also well aware of the fact that with the earlier benching of Jacoby Jones (after a number of mishandles of punts) the next man up for the Steelers with these duties was none other than superstar wide receiver, Antonio Brown. AB84 is not only one of the most electrifying players in the League today, but he is also an example of movement authenticity, freedom, and a possessor of a unique combination of movement strategies and proficient biomechanics. Thus, when he’s bound to be on the field, this Movement Specialist is bound to be watching. And boy am I glad that I was!
Brown receives the punt at his own 28/29 yard line. Immediately after the ball touches his hands you can see his eyes get up field for rapid visual scanning and an intake of the environment in front of him. If you’ve noticed any trend with some of our recent plays here…players often don’t begin developing intentions about their expectations for solutions until they have adequately carried out their actual perception of the information present within the problem. Meaning, they don’t move till they have perceived the problem and its affordances for action. AB84 on this play is no different; he catches the ball, quickly scans, and THEN reacts with the proper movement patterns that he deems will be most effective to solve the problem.
This solution happens to begin with a short transition step to his left which allows a few more of the blocks in front of him to be carried out a little further. This transition step then turns into two quicker frequency steps to get him moving east-west which allows greater up-field pursuit of oncoming Colts special teamers (God bless their souls for not realizing what was about to ensue). He travels laterally (east-west) just a few yards before he realizes the right place and time to get now north& south and to do so in a hurry. He stays coils as he executes a sharp crossover cut to change his path almost 90 degrees. For a guy his size, along with the proficiency of the cutting action, this is a safe & effective pattern selection (as opposed to the mechanical stress that it could place on a guy who is raised up due to having a naturally higher center of gravity & still tries to execute it…eeek!).
After the cutting action, he hits the acceleration gas pedal hard and you can see his unique first few acceleration steps are more condensed and coiled than would typically be advocated by most acceleration technical models. However, this rather authentic style and pattern for Brown is one that has become solidified and emergent in many of the various acceleration scenarios for him. As a result, you can see how quickly he covers the first 10 yards…also evading would-be tacklers by moving so rapidly that they would typically have a bead on him (if he were an ordinary offensive player in the open field) but this time were pursuant at the wrong angle as they underestimated this short distance speed evident from Brown.
From the 39 to the 42 yard line, at high speeds, he must subtly change his directional path in the open field (I say subtle because it wasn’t an abrupt and overly decisive cutting action) due to the upcoming traffic that he knows must be navigated. He does this by slowing down slightly just enough to get his body under control for more angular running (rather than staying on his linear path). Do not underestimate this movement pattern usage here and the affordances for action it opens up for Brown and the indecisiveness it causes for his opponents. For AB84, it opens up movement strategy degrees of freedom (i.e. options for where he can go and how). For the opponents, it gets them all second guessing on where he is about to go and makes them panic even more about how they are going to go about getting him to the ground (spoiler alert: they’re not going to!).
Once he passes the 45 yard line, it’s appears to be off to the races here so Brown hits the intensity pedal once again. But if you watch close, you can see the skill that Brown is maybe without equal with right now across the League, and that’s the ability to set guys up in the open field…and his ability to do this makes him almost impossible to defend…and an especially daunting task when you are a punter!
Needless to say, when AB84 sees said punter out in front of him, there is no doubt in my mind (or in Brown’s or the punter’s) that he has the physical capability & athletic gifts to just continue towards the sideline and simply ran past this unsuspecting & much less athletically gifted punter (to be fair it could’ve been a whole lot of other players in the League and the same thing would have happened). But really…what fun would have that been?! Furthermore, would that have landed him on the Movement Play of the Week?! Thus, Brown brings a smile to my face and begins to feint and fake at the Colt’s 49/48 yard line with the punter still around 7 yards away from him already panicking thinking about that which is about to occur.
Brown works him to the outside (to Brown’s left and the punter’s right) and then back inside. If you watch this frame-by-frame the nuances and the linkage between his faking and his feet carrying out the movement action is a sight to behold (even though it would’ve been more impressive had it been a defensive back he was doing it against). As soon as he brings the fake back inside, the punter hesitates slightly, Brown knows he has him right where he wants him, and his (AB84) body quickly gets back into reacceleration mode without any hesitation on his part. If you are paying attention, you are hopefully thinking of the differences between training an offensive player on agility movement skill versus the nuances that must be developed when training a defensive player to do so the same.
From there, the only thing left to do is to show off the mid-range to top-end speed mechanics that fits more closely in-line with that of a more technical model of sprinting (check the front-side mechanics when he’s at higher speeds). And of course, follow that up with a sequence of sure-to-be-fined by the NFL celebrations in the style of the norm for Antonio Brown; his goal post straddle as unique as his acceleration and cutting patterns….though not nearly as proficient and as polished! Ha!
To truly appreciate each and every movement solution & how Brown organized them in combination with each other/carried them out, be sure to watch the play unfold from all angles below.
To watch one of the best do his thing, click here: