2016 Play of the Week – Week 9

Game: Broncos at Raiders

Play: Bibbs (Wait, Who?) with some fined tuned Perception-Action Coupling

Denver Broncos v Oakland Raiders

What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

Today, you’re likely going to ask yourself, “Kapri, who?” or “who in the world is Kapri Bibbs and how did he get here?” This will especially be the case if you weren’t watching Sunday night’s Raider win over the Broncos all the way to the end. Trust me, I was asking myself those same questions that night. However, after the skill displayed on this play, I won’t be forgetting his name.

Though I had other plays on the docket that would have also been worthy recipients of this week’s award (such as Shady McCoy juking Richard Sherman on a nifty speed cut), I felt as though because of how this play materialized, it had to be recognized as the week’s best movement performance. What do I mean? Well, in the past here at Football Beyond the Stats, I have often mentioned how the true display of agility movement skill on a football field stems from a foundation of proficient perception-action coupling rather than the dominance of physical capacities. On this play, that’s what the execution is all about and this is despite the fact that the movement patterns & mechanics were far from what many pundits would indicate as optimal (based on some technical model they use from simple change of direction tasks rather than reactive agility tasks).

This play by Bronco RB Kapri Bibbs was just a masterful exhibition of movement problem solving at both an intra-individual (within one’s self) and inter-individual (with the interaction of others) coordination level. See for yourself…

What happened movement-wise on the play?

If you’ve followed my work here before you definitely are well aware of my strong feelings oriented around the Dynamical Systems Theory & the Constraints-Led Approach to sport motor control and movement skill acquisition. Central to these ideas is the concept of perception-action coupling aka information-movement coupling; namely, one of either of these in sport cannot be studied without an intricate understanding of the other. Furthermore, optimal movement behavior emergence cannot be determined without investigating the nuances of the problem and the constraints (organism, environment, task) that it contains at a multi-level of analysis (either intra and/or inter-individual) as it pertains to movement coordination & control. What this really means is that sometimes the most optimal movement solutions in the chaos of open sport problems are not the same as though which we would witness in a closed environment. Now that all that has been said, let me show you why it’s important.

Broncos RB Kapri Bibbs receives the screen pass from this QB at his own 28 yard line, left-side of the field. He flips around and due to the tactical nature of the play call, he allows his blockers to get out and run in front of him and take care of the Raiders defenders. Great screen RBs are always built with more patience than they are power and this leads to their proficiency in these types of movement environments. We see the patience of Bibbs here and though it leads to more controlled, slower occurring movement patterns on his part, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t acting with a sense of urgency. Instead, he is busy taking in information, processing accordingly (let’s not even get into the issue regarding slow vs. fast motor control theory here)…reading, recognizing, and preparing to react.

bibbs-2

For around 8 yards, Bibbs locomotors linearly in a relatively slow pace (at least in comparison if he just hit the acceleration gas pedal). This pace of movement is a skill in and of itself; and yet is a skill that is so rarely trained in many movement skill circles. Yet, the ability to sense, perceive, and make decisions from (along with the movement patterns that will emerge from this cycle) is so context dependent…meaning, how the behaviors, brain, and biomechanics interact during this speed of movement is going to differ at least slightly than if he were moving with an all-out intention. How he’s moving here allows him to focus his attention accordingly and gain greater kinesthetic sense & awareness regarding the likely success of his own potential solutions.

Because of this, when presented with the movement problem at the 36 yard line, where he likely could’ve tried to break to the outside or veer back slightly in to the teeth of the middle of the field, he picks the latter even though this would require him to also have to go over an individual (his own teammate) already on the ground. Thus, he performs a tight stance crossover cut (right leg plant, left leg reacceleration) instead of trying to outrun the athletic Raider LB to the sideline…this problem is what we would look at and refer to as an affordance for action (and no two players view the same problem in the same way with the same potential solution formation).

From this cut he takes a few short acceleration steps which leads him past the Raiders backer (#54) before performing a quick single leg hop and hurdle over his down-fallen teammate on the 40 yard line. He lands on one leg and though there is some slight energy dissipation (not quite like we would have saw in our David Johnson extreme hurdle last week) his stride remains relatively unbroken and he’s able to get back into reacceleration after landing.

Now while covering ground from the 40 to the 50 we see Bibbs, with Raiders defenders in hot chasing pursuit, get back to this supreme perception-action coupling that already got him this far. Another Raiders LB almost ends up bringing him to the ground, this time from behind, but while Bibbs is busy with his visual gaze up ahead taking in information it’s almost as though his kinesthesis can feel what’s behind him (I would argue that he could!) and he’s able to give himself just enough time & space to narrowly escape the outstretched tackle attempt.

Denver Bronocs vs Oakland Raiders

After getting out of this potential problem, he’s got more problems to face unfolding in front of him. Now at the Raider’s 40 yard line, Bibbs begins to change his angle of locomotion (remember the offensive skill player almost always has the advantage in open field agility demands). This allows the potential Raiders defender (this time a DB) to be presented with more challenges than just the ball carrier as a Broncos blocking WR (well typically its one of the better pass catching receivers in the league in E-Sanders) enters the picture and gives Bibbs a better opportunity to eat up some green grass as he goes across the field to his right.

Now we see Bibbs get out and run in a more traditional type of fashion as he crosses the field and gains around 20 yards (though the distance run is much further than that due to the angle he’s headed). As he approaches the 20 yard line and the Raiders angle of defensive pursuit starts to close him off, he executes a few rapid deceleration steps as he passes over the 20 and positions himself into a tight stance bilateral speed cut though here, likely due to present fatigue at the time, he ended up rounding into the cut probably more than we would desire in a perfect world (but does sport really ever present a perfect world?!).

This cut however which then redirects his path back to his left and into the middle of the field allows his teammates to give him assistance and displays the mastery of the inter-individual coordination that I was so highly complementary of earlier on in this blog. Also from here, Bibbs was simply not going to be denied. He now weaves his way through the remaining traffic…both of the opponents as well as where his teammates exist…till he finds himself with an exclamation point dive into the end zone for 6.

Atlanta Falcons v Denver Broncos

Check out this fantastic play from the newcomer here:

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-cant-miss-plays/0ap3000000735270/Can-t-Miss-Play-Bibbs-eludes-multiple-defenders-on-69-yard-TD

 

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