Game: Vikings at Cardinals
Play: All-day also shows movement mastery on a Thursday night
What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?
Over the last two weeks we have had repeat performers featured here on the Movement Play of the Week in Chris Ivory and Antonio Brown. I should’ve known that by acknowledging it that I would then put this trend out in the universe. Why do I say this? Well, today we will have it happen yet again. This trend should really come as no surprise as what I have been saying over more years than I can count is that it is the mastery of one’s movement that separates the top performers from the rest of one’s peers on the field. Thus, when a player is on the top of his movement game, it shows on the field on a Sunday (or Thursday or Monday night).
So who is the athlete who would manifest my predictions? Well none other than one of the very best in the game, Adrian Peterson, that’s who. I was fortunate enough to be in town for this Vikings-Cardinals game and I must say that watching the movement on video does not do the perception-action coupling and the movement patterns that followed by 28 its due justice. But we will try to give it a little more love in our movement play of the week breakdown anyway.
There were numerous plays over week 14 that I think on any given week would have been more than deserving of recognition here. Namely, a slick, slicing, & sharp movement sequence by Lamar Miller on the Monday night game where the young Dolphins RB showed movement control beyond his experience as well as a wicked 5-sack performance by Khali Mack of the Oakland Raiders. However, the combination of violence cutting and movement mechanics by Adrian on this week was too much to overcome.
What happened movement-wise on the play?
Many people will watch this play and simply think it’s just Adrian being Adrian and that the display isn’t all that rare & impressive for him. However, as some of you may remember from my breakdown of AD28 in week 10 (see here… https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/2015-play-of-the-week-week-10/), the former MVP’s movement signature hasn’t always been one of a full realization of the movement control that we witness now. Each week he continues to get more attuned to his current self in space & time and his technical display of movement follows. This is so very apparent to me, someone who has studied his movement behaviors since his introduction into the League in ’07 (NOTE: I am NOT working with Adrian in any capacity), and it’s something I believe is a product of someone with a highly adaptable nervous system becoming more comfortable in not only his tactical role in this Norv Turner-run offense, but also the more frequent exposure to the problems he faces within it and the optimal motor solutions he has in his arsenal to overcome them. It is truly a manifestation of the Dynamical Systems Theory, Ecological Psychology, and a Constraints-Led Approach right in front of our very eyes and we see the evolution in the Biodynamic Structure of Adrian’s movement as a result. Put another way…the environment has helped serve to shape his movement!
Okay…now that all of the motor control & motor learning jargon is out of the way…what did I actually see here?
Adrian starts lined up deep behind Teddy Bridgewater with his heels on the right hash of the 18 yard line. As soon as the ball is snapped he takes his patented right foot-back plyo step. This step repositions his body in a sound position to take advantage of more proficient biomechanics in early acceleration steps.
After two of these acceleration steps he receives the hand-off from Teddy and immediately realizes the cluttered chaos in front of him from the drive of a very good Cardinals defensive line and has to read & recognize the given movement options afforded. Because of this, between the 14 & 13 yard line, AD28 has to halt his forward accelerative momentum and prepare for a cutting action at the 12 yard line. To do this, he goes from a high position to a much lower one; realize that when his right foot is on the ground for this cut (between the 12 and 11 yard line) his hip & knee flexion appears as though it should be at a greater degree of flexion. However, realize that Adrian is 6’1” and possesses a naturally higher center of gravity. Thus, he is still able to get a sharp slicing action here with a relatively wide base of support that maybe could’ve been wider yet but will all be speed & timing dependent. Note: check the end zone view to get full appreciate of how wide his base of support actually gets during it! This pic below is NOT from the actual play but a different instance in the same game when we can see this movement strategy show itself.
Out of this right foot plant & cut, he takes what many refer to as a “jump cut” but in all reality it should be more appropriately termed a lateral sidestep (2 steps really) which acts here as a cut…in any event, this allows him to cut again, this time off of his left leg, and get repositioned for reacceleration up the field. Of course, this is exactly where he wants to be (in a position for acceleration).
This left foot plant & cut turns into a modified power cut & step which quickly morphs into 2 hard, rapidly-occurring acceleration steps to get through the hole, past the line of scrimmage, and through the Cardinal’s first level of defense.
These two steps go down quick and while reading in front of him, Adrian encounters one of the better performing defensive players in all of football, Cardinals safety, Tyrann Mathieu (#32). Now, like any week, Mathieu made his fair share of plays on Thursday night but there were also a number of occasions where #28 put him on skates and this so happened to be one of them.
Thus, here at the 7/6 yard line, AD28 gives a bit of a shimmy/shake & quick feint/fake which leaves Mathieu leaping for his feet. We can see the advantage of an offensive player in these situations here as he knows where he wants to go in evasion and it leaves the defensive player with lesser options than to panic and try to make a play (and likely one that he wouldn’t have made had it been a back of lesser qualities).
Adrian is able to bypass Mathieu’s tackle attempt again with a right foot plant & cut which carries itself into a similar lateral sidestepping action as he did earlier. This time it was just executed in a slightly different situation with a whole lot more traffic (and chaos!) happening around him in a different spatial arrangement. NOTE: one of the hallmarks of movement mastery in open sports is the ability to adapt & apply a movement technique & mechanics across movement problems in the ever-changing environment of sport.
Again though, we see Adrian get himself quickly repositioned for reacceleration (obviously Adrian knows his overpowering movement strengths!). This time though, the reacceleration mechanics are set-up by more of a crossover than a power cut. Either way, they are set-up to also allow AD28 to get a head of steam to deliver punishment and pick up forward momentum to carry himself along with several Cardinals into the end zone. This leaves Cardinal defensive backs at a huge disadvantage (with one of the most punishing backs in the League just a few steps away from 6) and I am by no means faulting any DB here by grasping at the legs and ankles of 28 as he hammers things home for the 100th time in his illustrious career.
To watch AD28 doing his thing, click here: