Game: Jaguars at Lions
Play: Roberts on the return
What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?
If you’ve followed this blog, particularly the Play of the Week series, you know that some of the most standout motor performances on any given Sunday come from the solutions that NFL players come up with for the various, diverse problems found during punt returns. Well, for the second time this season (the first was Crowder in Week 3); the movement performance on a punt return is our play of the week.
This time, these fancy but effective moves came from a dynamic Detroit Lion, Andre Roberts, who returned a Jacksonville Jaguar punt 55 yards to the house. Because of the short week (due to the Thanksgiving holiday and the numerous games that will take place on it), we are going to keep this play of the week shorter than usual; however, this doesn’t mean that the moves that took place on it are any less impressive!
What happened movement-wise on the play?
Rather than breakdown this week’s play in our usual step-by-step fashion, I want to simply point your attention to a few keys nuances of it that made it all possible:
- The angular deceleration to crossover cut to make the first guy(s) miss.
On the 44/45 yard line, with three free Jaguars running loose and bearing down on him, Roberts, after moving to his right in a short crossover shuffle transition, coils hard & low onto his left leg while attacking his right foot into the ground hard to bring his body to a stop, store some quick elastic energy, and snap it (the right leg) back into reacceleration in a crossover fashion. Typically I am not a huge fan of a crossover cut when performed to redirect at this type of sharp path angle but because of the low coil and subsequent body angles he displayed, it was executed very efficiently and obviously put him in a good position to slice out of his stop.
Note: Notice the interpersonal distance between him and the tacklers when he begins to execute his stop move (about 3 yards). This distance is an ‘affordance for action’ that we have talked about here before; different players will desire different distances between them and their opponents when they cut/change direction.
- The acceleration burst and associated mechanics to get up to speed in a hurry after getting past the outstretched arms of Jaguars rookie LB, Myles Jack.
After the previously mentioned cut he maneuvers around the first wave of wannabe tacklers. As soon as he gets past Jack, he wastes little time getting into his acceleration mechanics. This allows him to hit very high speeds in a short period of time and over a very short distance (the next 10 yards) before having to veer back in at an angle towards the middle of the field.
- The use of the slight hesitation to set-up the final trek to paydirt.
Around the Jaguars 25 yard line, Roberts realizes there is really only one guy left to beat but that one guy (#17) has a decent angle to cut him off to the sideline (though Roberts has a Lions blocker in front of him as well). Thus, in a true display of subtle mastery (and likely a subconsciously executed move at that), he hesitates slightly and decelerates in a controlled fashion. This then gives a look as though he could go one of two ways around the blocker which requires the brief pause on the Jaguar defender’s accord. That pause is all that Roberts needed to allow his teammate to get a more solid block and then he gets back on his horse and around the edge with plenty of speed to record his second return touchdown of the season.
I apologize for the short (but hopefully sweet) synopsis of a very impressive play but Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Enjoy your family & friends and be grateful for both big & small in your life!
To check out the sweet punt return moves by Andre Roberts, click here: