Game: Eagles at Chiefs
Play: Kelce soars far & high above the Eagles
What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?
Like clockwork…another week passes in the NFL; and another list of exceptional movers show & shine their skills for us all to bear witness to on that Sunday. Sometimes, it just so happens that a player previously featured on our blog tries to make me look much smarter than I actually am by laying out the top display of movement skills for that respective week. This is precisely what we have this week.
But as I alluded to above, there was more than enough competition for this week’s nod for the top movement performance. First, on the Monday night game, we saw a long, dazzling punt return by Detroit Lions defensive back, Jamal Agnew. Additionally, we had Washington Redskin RB, Chris Thompson juking and jiving his way around the Rams. Finally, in the same game, we also saw Todd Gurley, trying to beat the performer who was ultimately selected for the top spot at his own game by leaping over a Redskins defender.
That all said, when all the votes were counted (i.e. my vote) it was our top Tight End mover of 2016 (see last year’s All-Movement Team here; https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/2016-all-movement-team-offense/), Travis Kelce, who reigned supreme this week with his all-around athleticism showing his astonishing versatility taking a shovel pass from his QB and laying out in Superman-like fashion to clear numerous Philadelphia Eagles defenders.
What happened movement-wise on the play?
As I stated in last year’s write-up about him and me giving him his claim at the status as the top-moving Tight End in the game, I feel as though the thing that makes Travis Kelce so masterful is his movement dexterity & adaptability (the ability to adjust movement solutions to match the respective problem in front of him) combined with his variability & degeneracy (the ability to have a wide range of solutions to combine the way that they need to be) in his entire movement toolbox. For a dude who is 6’5” and 260lb, the extensiveness of Kelce’s toolbox is truly impressive. Though he usually displays it by moving in the open field during route running or after he gets a ball in his hands after a reception, we get to see the movement toolbox wide open on this play out of the backfield, as well. In fact, through the first two games of the season, there have been a number of times that Kelce has received the ball behind the line of scrimmage to find him moving really agile through tight spaces…so our play being featured today is really no fluke.
On this play, with the game tied at 13, the Chiefs are marching with only 6:32 left in the game; they find themselves in a 2nd and 5 from the Eagles 15 yard line. With Kelce lined up to QB Alex Smith’s right playing in his usual hybrid TE/H-back role, with Chief’s burner and fellow All-Movement Team member Tyreek Hill going in motion for deceptive purposes to get eyes and bodies moving to the right side of the formation, and rookie RB Kareem Hunt already in the process of his second huge day running the football, the Eagles are caught in a web of Chief athleticism who are ready to try to takeover this game.
With Smith’s toes on the 20 yard line, he fakes the hand-off to Hunt who takes off wide left. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the Eagles DE didn’t bite on the Hunt fake nearly as much as most would so he ends up right in Smith’s lap. Luckily for Smith, his composure bails him out and he delivers a quick shovel pass to the quickly-cutting TE, Kelce, who once he receives the ball between the 16 and 17 yard lines, has a little room to not only perceive what’s happening in front of him (in respect to the movement problem that must be solved) but also to get up a slight accelerative head of steam to make the Eagle’s defenders a second guess as well as give Kelce himself the needed momentum for what is about to occur next.
Being that the Eagles had 8 in the box in anticipation of a run, there is a Philly defender in the middle of the field who should have Kelce dead to rights before reaching the 1st down marker. However, this defender stumbles slightly off-balance in hesitation, and this issue coupled with Kelce’s supreme acceleration capabilities for this size allows him to have enough of a gap to use as a running lane between the hashes and the numbers; so much so that he easily picks up the first down at the 10 yard line and is very ready to get even more.
As the big TE, passes by that first down line and through the trio of Eagle defenders, it’s easy to see he’s got really bad intentions for the oncoming safety that enters our picture 5-6 yards away from Kelce when they both realize that this 1v1 situation is likely only to end well for one of them! Like most defensive backs will do when they have this kind of target coming at them full-speed-ahead, the Eagle safety goes low (can we really blame him) knowing this is his only hope of bringing down a guy this big yet moving this fast.
Recognizing that the safety is going low, Kelce maintains his speed to the point where we can tell he’s not going to have the body control to shut down the locomotion and go around him but instead must go over him! He times out his unilateral leap for the 5 yard line in an attempt to clear over the low positioned defender. While in the air, Kelce is met by two other Eagles players who’s last gasp at saving the Eagle defensive pride is to hit the flying TE hard enough to either jar the ball loose and/or make him regret taking off. However, much to Philly fans dismay, neither happens and Kelce ends up celebrating with his teammates in the end zone.
Typically, with my own skill players, I typically advise them NOT to leave their feet in this manner as there are usually just too many negative repercussions that can occur when one does. However, I have also found that we should never attempt to restrict the intentions and instincts of a really dynamic playmaking mover when the patterns are naturally emerging in space and time as a response to the unique problem in front of them (rather than a pre-mediated hurdle/jump as we sometimes see occur). Thus, the sheer impressiveness of Kelce’s play here, and the novel movement solutions that emerged from his toolbox, was truly head-shaking.
Click below to watch the star tight end doing his movement thing here: