2016 Play of the Week – Week 16

Game: Ravens at Steelers

Play: The Bell rung on Christmas more than once for Baltimore

bell-pic-3

What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

When I talk to many of the blog’s readers, I always find that there are a good number of people who still believe that I am selecting a player’s overall movement performance for that week’s respective game rather than a single play which highlighted superior movement prowess. Well, on this week, I decided that I WOULD DO just that (rather than my normal singular play). The reason is because the overall performance put on display by MVP-candidate Le’Veon Bell (and 2014 All-Movement Team member may I add?) was so well-rounded that I felt as though it deserved to be credited.

As with any week, there were a number of players that made plays that were worthy of recognition such as Tyreek Hill (who it seems is becoming a mainstay at Football Beyond the Stats) and his long TD scamper, Zeke Elliott (another familiar rookie for our site) trying to show why he could be the most dynamic mover in the game, and even Packer QB Aaron Rodgers getting into the mix by making numerous Vikings miss en route to paydirt. However, when all was said and done, Le’Veon Bell, on what seemed to be a regular occurrence on every two to three plays, would do something Sunday night which was truly special. It seems as though the Steeler do-it-all RB is now starting to hit his stride (figuratively and literally) after recovering from last season’s knee surgery (note: it usually takes until the second season after a surgery to get attuned to the new technical movement characteristics).

What happened movement-wise on the play?

Because we are doing things a little different this week, I am going to have ya’ll watch the highlights first to get a true glimpse as to what Bell was working with in week 16 and what the Ravens had to deal with in the process:

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap3000000763689/Le-Veon-Bell-highlights

1st play (0-0:19)

POWER

Because of his dynamic nature, many uninformed pundits think of Bell as nothing more than a scat-back. However, I am not sure who put out this memo originally. But on this first play of the highlight tape, we see Le’Veon deliver the boom on some well-intentioned Raven defenders.

Bell pic 6.jpg

2nd play (0:25-0:31)

CRISP CUTTING

Here we now see Le’Veon doing exactly one of the things that he is known for; cutting crisply on a dime first with a narrow stance power cut behind the LOS on the 40 yard line and again with a subtle unilateral speed cut at the 35.

3rd play (0:31-0:40)

PATIENCE

In football circles you often hear people talk about patience because like in life, it’s a virtue! Well, this is what it looks like on display as Le’Veon allows a little something to open up based on some opportune timing rather than the whole lot of nothing that looked to be present when he first took the hand-off.

4th play (0:40-0:48)

VISION

You’ve heard me talk about it here before: movement mastery comes down to problem solving in order to solve task puzzles on a football field. Much of that problem solving stems from the visual gaze and attention control.

5th play (0:49-1:10)

Listen to the Sunday Night Football analyst crew give you a little bit of Bell ringing praise here now!

6th play (1:10-1:16)

DIVERSITY

Not only does movement mastery come down to problem solving, but problem solving comes down to having a diversity of tools in the movement toolbox. A stutter-step to a spin move classifies as just that.

Bell pic 2.jpg

7th play (1:16-1:32)

CREATIVE

After much weaving through traffic of Ravens defenders, Le’Veon finds himself with an opportunity to put a defensive back on a poster with him. In a move that is highly improvisational, Bell actually leaves both feet to perform a pseudo-jump-stop type of cut in which he snaps his left foot down to plant and his right foot to redirect & reaccelerate. This here is about the niftiest of 5 yard gains as you will see this side of Barry Sanders.

8th play (1:32-2:01)

BURST

Another quality often thought about when Bell is discussed, his unique start-stop-start ability is highlighted by his ability to get started in a blink of an eye. We see this quality on display here as he hits the corner and gets to his spot before Ravens defenders have anything to say about it.

Bell pic 4.jpg

9th play (2:01-2:09)

PERCEPTION

One of the great things about having stellar perception is that it makes the action a whole lot less effortful. This in itself leads to efficiency of both movement and energy. Very few backs playing in the game right now have Bell’s type of perception-action coupling and this play puts it on full display.

10th play (2:09-2:14)

NAVIGATION

Because of the attunement to the common problems that he is bound to face at this position, he can find himself in nearly any situation with a solution that matches that problem like a key to a lock. Here we see Bell do just that has he patiently (yet again) navigates his way through the Ravens defense only hitting the gas pedal with high intention when he knows its functional to do so.

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