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Shawn Myszka | Evolutionary Athletics

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  • Shawn Myszka 7:27 pm on December 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    2017 Play of the Week – Week 14 

    Game: Colts at Bills

    Play: The real Shady shows slippery moves to stand out in the snow

    Shady pic 1

    What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

    The thing that makes this blog wonderful for me is within each week I get to analyze players attempting to solve lots of various movement problems under diverse, constantly-changing environmental conditions. This unpredictability is one of the coolest aspects of NFL football sport movement behavior. Why? Well, to me, this is unlike many other professional sports where, though the task constraints may differ highly, the environmental constraints often stay relatively similar. In NBA basketball, the court is always close to the same type of stickiness. In the NHL, ice is ice (for the most part) and they don’t change temperatures of the arena from game to game. In MLB, if it rains, the game gets delayed. Note: I am not dumb to the fact that there are still plenty of other environmental constraints entering the mix besides the surface and weather conditions that could change the interaction between the problem and the solution.

    As we will expand upon later, one of the truest tests of an individual’s movement skill is to place it under various conditions and see if the individual can still adequately come up with an effective solution. Arguably, there hasn’t been a better test taker in this regards than current Buffalo Bill RB LeSean “Shady” McCoy. Shady was our very first Mover of the Year way back in 2013 while being a member of the Philadelphia Eagles when it was very apparent that his movement was built off of a highly diverse movement toolbox.

    https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/2013-bts-mover-of-the-year-lesean-mccoy/

    In week 14 of that very same season, McCoy and his Eagles found themselves in a snowy contest versus the Detroit Lions where I marveled at his ability to adapt his movement behaviors to the ever-changing weather conditions.

    https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/play-of-the-week-week-14/

    Ironically enough, here we are again, another snowy week 14 in an NFL season, now four seasons later, and Shady is out there still doing the exact same thing!

    What happened movement-wise on the play?

    During our breakdowns here for most weeks, we normally analyze a singular play or even one local piece of the athlete’s solution puzzle where a player’s movement characteristics shined bright in comparison to their peers. This week, the entire body of work that our first-ever Mover of the Year put together across Sunday’s snowy afternoon in Buffalo was worthy of this type of lens being turned onto it.

    My hero in the movement behavior field, the late and great Nikolai Bernstein, once stated (1967): “Dexterity, that is, the capacity to solve a motor problem – correctly, quickly, rationally, and resourcefully. Dexterity is finding a motor solution for any situation and in any condition.” With this being the case, I believe that dexterity is the hallmark of movement skill that could be deemed worthy of being associated with the word, masterful.

    If you have followed this blog for any period of time, you have probably routinely and repeatedly heard me utter words like attunement, adaptation, perception-action coupling, and affordances for action. Well, when you throw a snowstorm into the mix, for even the highest level of qualification of movers (i.e. those that reside in the NFL), the exact application of those concepts (attunement, etc) gets changed considerably. Meaning, the way that the individual’s human movement system coordinates and controls his respective movement skills is going to be constrained (or possibly invited) based on what the environment gives him. The sensory feeling at the foot obviously changes and thus so does one’s connection to the ground (the foot-surface interaction) and foot plant-ability (base of support position, etc), among many other factors (e.g. force development, speed characteristics). Because of this, certain patterns and moves in one’s movement skill toolbox become more or less available depending on the individual’s ability to co-adapt based on what he perceives.

    This issue is what makes the perception-action coupling and the constant problem solving that the most masterful movers perform as the environment changes so damn important. And of course, Shady puts this highly attuned and adaptable skill on display for us today from his performance in week 14. Go take a peek at this video to see the awesome, expert-filled Shady performance.

    http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Fnfl-game-highlights%2F0ap3000000890724%2FTop-5-LeSean-McCoy-snow-runs-Week-14

    Now, while watching, a few things jump off the screen to me as it pertains to both where Shady had advantages and disadvantages based on the conditions at-hand. These advantages/disadvantages then contribute to the specific affordances for action that he would experience as he attempts to solve the problems present on each play.

    Advantages

    1. He knows where he is going!

    When the conditions significantly change like this especially at the surface (inches upon inches of snow constitutes as significant), the advantage almost always goes to the offensive player. This is the case because the offensive player has an idea on where he wants to go and the defensive player is just trying to react according to this and sometimes is essentially just along for the ride. Thus, movement solution freedom (where he can go and how he can go that way that he selects) is enhanced for Shady. He is the one in the problem-solution connection who is in most control of speed and timing and because of that, he owns the spatial demands!

    Shady pic 3

    1. Novelty!

    The NFL’s most elite, masterful movers typically have more movement solutions in their toolbox even if they are behaviors and patterns that aren’t as stable or solidified as other patterns that they may possess. In ‘Ecological Dynamics’ terms they display a high amount of degeneracy. This is the fancy way of saying that they have numerous potential ways to solve typical movement problems. This ‘way’, may not always be optimal, but it’s a potential option and when other guys are just out there just don’t have as many to match, you get a significant advantage. This is why we see Shady on the video out there rather casually hurdling guys and breaking down in more subtle ways (as opposed to the normal more rapid, violent fashions on a harder surface) while displaying more balance while others on the opposite side of this relationship have to try to correspond with what they already know (faster decelerations with wider base and sharper angles) that no longer match the needs of the environment (so we see them falling or being out of control).

    Shady pic 2

    Disadvantages

    1. The Colts are wearing all white while the Bills are wearing all red!

    Some may scoff at this, but while you watch the video just try to pick out each of the Colt defenders as they rapidly move through space. Pattern recognition is much more difficult when the patterns of each of the defenders will already be changing based on the weather conditions; pattern recognition is much, MUCH more difficult when that opponent is basically wearing camouflage and it’s hard to even see them!

    Shady pic 4

    1. Shady has to go away from what often times is considered “more optimal” agility technique! (Okay, usually this is determined during ‘change-of-direction’ tasks rather than agility tasks)

    Because of the conditions, Shady can’t get into his normal positions and execute through his normal patterns (and combinations of those patterns). Meaning, we don’t see his usual base of support variability and/or sharp eccentric loading on this past Sunday. Yes; obviously everyone has to operate under the same field conditions here. So, why is this actually a disadvantage for Shady? Well, as part of his movement arsenal, he possesses solidified options which require him to get lower, wider, and more coiled than most of his defensive peers. Though Shady’s movement patterns aren’t Barry Sanders-esqe in the form that he gets as wide and slicing (a topic that I have explicitly addressed on this blog before when people over the years have tried to compare the two), those are still more preferred states for him than they are for most of his defensive counterparts.

     


     
  • Shawn Myszka 7:27 pm on December 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    2017 Play of the Week – Week 14 

    Game: Colts at Bills

    Play: The real Shady shows slippery moves to stand out in the snow

    Shady pic 1

    What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

    The thing that makes this blog wonderful for me is within each week I get to analyze players attempting to solve lots of various movement problems under diverse, constantly-changing environmental conditions. This unpredictability is one of the coolest aspects of NFL football sport movement behavior. Why? Well, to me, this is unlike many other professional sports where, though the task constraints may differ highly, the environmental constraints often stay relatively similar. In NBA basketball, the court is always close to the same type of stickiness. In the NHL, ice is ice (for the most part) and they don’t change temperatures of the arena from game to game. In MLB, if it rains, the game gets delayed. Note: I am not dumb to the fact that there are still plenty of other environmental constraints entering the mix besides the surface and weather conditions that could change the interaction between the problem and the solution.

    As we will expand upon later, one of the truest tests of an individual’s movement skill is to place it under various conditions and see if the individual can still adequately come up with an effective solution. Arguably, there hasn’t been a better test taker in this regards than current Buffalo Bill RB LeSean “Shady” McCoy. Shady was our very first Mover of the Year way back in 2013 while being a member of the Philadelphia Eagles when it was very apparent that his movement was built off of a highly diverse movement toolbox.

    https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/2013-bts-mover-of-the-year-lesean-mccoy/

    In week 14 of that very same season, McCoy and his Eagles found themselves in a snowy contest versus the Detroit Lions where I marveled at his ability to adapt his movement behaviors to the ever-changing weather conditions.

    https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/play-of-the-week-week-14/

    Ironically enough, here we are again, another snowy week 14 in an NFL season, now four seasons later, and Shady is out there still doing the exact same thing!

    What happened movement-wise on the play?

    During our breakdowns here for most weeks, we normally analyze a singular play or even one local piece of the athlete’s solution puzzle where a player’s movement characteristics shined bright in comparison to their peers. This week, the entire body of work that our first-ever Mover of the Year put together across Sunday’s snowy afternoon in Buffalo was worthy of this type of lens being turned onto it.

    My hero in the movement behavior field, the late and great Nikolai Bernstein, once stated (1967): “Dexterity, that is, the capacity to solve a motor problem – correctly, quickly, rationally, and resourcefully. Dexterity is finding a motor solution for any situation and in any condition.” With this being the case, I believe that dexterity is the hallmark of movement skill that could be deemed worthy of being associated with the word, masterful.

    If you have followed this blog for any period of time, you have probably routinely and repeatedly heard me utter words like attunement, adaptation, perception-action coupling, and affordances for action. Well, when you throw a snowstorm into the mix, for even the highest level of qualification of movers (i.e. those that reside in the NFL), the exact application of those concepts (attunement, etc) gets changed considerably. Meaning, the way that the individual’s human movement system coordinates and controls his respective movement skills is going to be constrained (or possibly invited) based on what the environment gives him. The sensory feeling at the foot obviously changes and thus so does one’s connection to the ground (the foot-surface interaction) and foot plant-ability (base of support position, etc), among many other factors (e.g. force development, speed characteristics). Because of this, certain patterns and moves in one’s movement skill toolbox become more or less available depending on the individual’s ability to co-adapt based on what he perceives.

    This issue is what makes the perception-action coupling and the constant problem solving that the most masterful movers perform as the environment changes so damn important. And of course, Shady puts this highly attuned and adaptable skill on display for us today from his performance in week 14. Go take a peek at this video to see the awesome, expert-filled Shady performance.

    http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Fnfl-game-highlights%2F0ap3000000890724%2FTop-5-LeSean-McCoy-snow-runs-Week-14

    Now, while watching, a few things jump off the screen to me as it pertains to both where Shady had advantages and disadvantages based on the conditions at-hand. These advantages/disadvantages then contribute to the specific affordances for action that he would experience as he attempts to solve the problems present on each play.

    Advantages

    1. He knows where he is going!

    When the conditions significantly change like this especially at the surface (inches upon inches of snow constitutes as significant), the advantage almost always goes to the offensive player. This is the case because the offensive player has an idea on where he wants to go and the defensive player is just trying to react according to this and sometimes is essentially just along for the ride. Thus, movement solution freedom (where he can go and how he can go that way that he selects) is enhanced for Shady. He is the one in the problem-solution connection who is in most control of speed and timing and because of that, he owns the spatial demands!

    Shady pic 3

    1. Novelty!

    The NFL’s most elite, masterful movers typically have more movement solutions in their toolbox even if they are behaviors and patterns that aren’t as stable or solidified as other patterns that they may possess. In ‘Ecological Dynamics’ terms they display a high amount of degeneracy. This is the fancy way of saying that they have numerous potential ways to solve typical movement problems. This ‘way’, may not always be optimal, but it’s a potential option and when other guys are just out there just don’t have as many to match, you get a significant advantage. This is why we see Shady on the video out there rather casually hurdling guys and breaking down in more subtle ways (as opposed to the normal more rapid, violent fashions on a harder surface) while displaying more balance while others on the opposite side of this relationship have to try to correspond with what they already know (faster decelerations with wider base and sharper angles) that no longer match the needs of the environment (so we see them falling or being out of control).

    Shady pic 2

    Disadvantages

    1. The Colts are wearing all white while the Bills are wearing all red!

    Some may scoff at this, but while you watch the video just try to pick out each of the Colt defenders as they rapidly move through space. Pattern recognition is much more difficult when the patterns of each of the defenders will already be changing based on the weather conditions; pattern recognition is much, MUCH more difficult when that opponent is basically wearing camouflage and it’s hard to even see them!

    Shady pic 4

    1. Shady has to go away from what often times is considered “more optimal” agility technique! (Okay, usually this is determined during ‘change-of-direction’ tasks rather than agility tasks)

    Because of the conditions, Shady can’t get into his normal positions and execute through his normal patterns (and combinations of those patterns). Meaning, we don’t see his usual base of support variability and/or sharp eccentric loading on this past Sunday. Yes; obviously everyone has to operate under the same field conditions here. So, why is this actually a disadvantage for Shady? Well, as part of his movement arsenal, he possesses solidified options which require him to get lower, wider, and more coiled than most of his defensive peers. Though Shady’s movement patterns aren’t Barry Sanders-esqe in the form that he gets as wide and slicing (a topic that I have explicitly addressed on this blog before when people over the years have tried to compare the two), those are still more preferred states for him than they are for most of his defensive counterparts.

     


     
  • Shawn Myszka 3:09 am on December 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    2017 Play of the Week – Week 13 

    Game: 49ers at Bears

    Play: The Human Joystick playing his own video game once again

    Cohen pic 3.jpg

    What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

    After the past two weeks, believe it or not, week 13’s top movement performance did NOT come at the hands, feet, and kinesthetic sense of Antonio Brown or Julio Jones. Really, it’s true; it didn’t! With AB84 just going about his business executing his normal routine performance (if you go watch at the highlights of him playing the Bengals on Monday night please note my sarcasm with that comment) and Julio getting shut down by the Vikings defense, it was time for someone else to step up.

    Beyond Brown’s movement execution, week 13 also saw individuals like Alvin Kamara shine once again as well as Russell Wilson perform his unique magic that it seems as though only he is capable of. When all the smoke cleared on the week’s games though, one play stood out above all others due to its creativity and instinct displayed during the entire movement problem solving activity. Tarik Cohen, aka the Human Joystick, upped the ante on his week 1 top movement performance when he tracked his path backwards way too far for his coaches’ liking and did a dynamic deed that few others in the game would be gutsy enough to execute.

    What happened movement-wise on the play?

    In Cohen’s week 1 performance, I took the time to give many who are unfamiliar with the Bears rookie a synopsis of the special sauce that the small school superstar had to offer to the movement problems present on an NFL football field. Honestly, besides Cohen’s standout performance versus the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons in week 1, as well as a more than respectable outing a few weeks later against the Steelers, Cohen has struggled pretty mightily running the football when lined up as a RB in a really inconsistent Bears offense. When they have found some other ways to get the ball in his hands and let him hit a few buttons on his agility controller in space, he’s had some success and has shown that he can flash unique skill-set. That manufacturing is exactly what we see on display here today.

    On a 4th down in the 2nd quarter of a close outing between the visiting 49ers and Cohen’s Bears, the young playmaker finds himself, feet planted on the 39/40 yard line, with a 49er punt booming in the sky. Like many higher level of mastery punt returners, while the ball is on its descent, we actually see his visual scanning saccade from ball to opponent pursuit and back to the ball again to make a quick and accurate decision regarding if he should field the punt in fair catching style or attempt to make a return out of it. Well, this is almost formality when you have a guy like Cohen back there and I can speak for at least one football movement coach who sits on the edge of his (I mean, my) seat at these moments praying that I don’t see his hand wave in the air. Fortunately for all of us, it didn’t and Cohen catches the ball, with his feet on the 39 and his balance slightly veering backwards.

    He uses this momentum to drift back slightly another yard to a yard and a half as he takes a step back with his right foot to regain his balance and reorient his movement solution mechanism back at the task at hand. As he perceives his surroundings and the 49er special team unit coming in hot, he sees one immediate defender seven yards away from him straddling the 45 yard line. There’s another pursuing defender offset to Cohen’s right angled at about 10 degrees from him and at a healthy 12 yards away.

    Cohen immediately starts off to his right with a few transition steps as he allows things to more dynamically unfold in front of him (and quickly!). With more 49ers now entering our sideline camera view, he offers a slight stutter to get them hesitating slightly. Honestly, this movement action, though I am sure was driven really subconsciously, did very little to deceive any 49ers and they each closed distance in their relationship to him. Because of this, it sends Cohen literally retreating backwards away from three 49ers and to the right away from this cutting action spot.

    Cohen pic 2.jpg

    Due to his quickness, as well as executing with maximum intent being implicitly driven because he’s being chased by several really large opponents who also have more buddies quickly coming, he gets going in a hurry even though he is going both lateral to his right and backwards still all while perceiving what’s in front of him as he runs in this direction. He passes the hashes, now a good eight to nine yards behind the yardage marker he caught the ball at, when reality may finally have hit that he has to now make a whole lot of something out of what appears to be a whole lot of nothing!

    It’s here that he likely has every Bears coach wondering where the heck he is going, it’s also at times like that that I believe you never put the handcuffs on the creativity of a real, high-level playmaker. Luckily, Cohen feels no shame yet for potential lost-yardage on a play so on the 30 yard line, with six 49er players now in our frame (the closest of which is running relatively off-balanced and the others sprinting hard towards the sideline in anticipation that this direction is Cohen’s only option), the Human Joystick shows us where the nickname stems from when he rolls over his right foot in a crossover followed by further back-tracking to change direction in a swooping action culminating in another left to right crossover action at the 25 yard line.

    Cohen pic 5

    As he comes out of this final change of direction action, we now see eight 49ers following Cohen’s curvilinear arched path. The great thing about having gone backwards so much here is that, as the punt returning player, you’ve gotten all of your opponents all disoriented in their chase and that if you can now just get past that wave of individuals, there won’t be much more wannabe tacklers ahead of you and the problems to solve that come with them. Cohen’s perceptual-cognitive skill is finely attuned for this affordance for action as well…so much so that as he’s running laterally parallel down the 25 yard line to the field’s left this time, he’s looking for the perfect opportunity to finally go north and south again. This opportunity presents itself when he’s between the hashes and when he does see it he wastes little time hitting his acceleration gas pedal all-out.

    We see him now, in his acceleration mechanics, visibly attacking the ground in furious fashion; almost horizontally bounding with each step. The next 15 yards go by in a jiffy and we can see what world class acceleration burst looks like in its authentic technical form. Those short distance acceleration mechanics turn into mid-range and top end linear technique as he is deterred very little from here with his blockers now up and running with him as a convoy so much that he gets to coast into the end zone with ease and after covering so much ground before getting to that open field.

    Coaches usually see this type of movement skill being executed this dynamically under this type of chaotic problem and they automatically believe that these types of instinctual movement behaviors are innate. However, I disagree; instead, I believe that we must give players the opportunity to acquire this attunement (to other individuals in the environment) and opportunities to go adapt their movement in an ever-changing task-dynamic. We can do this by allowing an athlete to more frequently inhabit activities ranging from simple tag games to cat & mouse drills to small-sided games (like 1v3+, etc).

    Click here to watch this dazzling player hitting his video game moves again:

    http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Fnfl-cant-miss-plays%2F0ap3000000886596%2FCan-t-Miss-Play-Cohen-uses-whole-field-burns-49ers-on-61-yard-TD-return

     

     


     
  • Shawn Myszka 4:27 am on November 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    2017 Play of the Week – Week 12 

    Game: Packers at Steelers AND Buccaneers at Falcons

    Play: Déjà vu!

    AB84 pic 1

    Julio pic 4.jpg

    What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

    We have been featuring the top play, from a movement standpoint, every week of each NFL season since the beginning of 2013. Each week I scan the games that occurred, leaving no stone unturned (I have my lack of social life to prove it); to ensure that I give credit where credit is due and feature the player who I strongly feel was deserving of the nod.

    Through all of those players, over the span of nearly five full NFL seasons we have never had what we are about to in week 12 of this 2017 season: a player being awarded our top movement play of the week on consecutive weeks. Coincidentally enough, it wasn’t just one player! If you will recall, in week 11, we featured both Antonio Brown and Julio Jones as our top dogs. Well, welcome to Groundhog’s Day because the same is the case here this week. It may seem as though I am taking the easy way out here, but I can assure you that you won’t find better movement performances across the league than that which is displayed on these two plays by these two extraordinary players.

    What happened movement-wise on the play?

    As ironic as it is by itself to have the top performers be the same ones on back to back weeks…it’s even crazier how the plays were carried out in comparison to last week’s and the movement qualities which underpinned the processes which led to their success. Well, like clockwork, en route to days leading to 10 catches for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns (Brown) and 12 catches for 253 and 2 touchdowns (Jones), the top two wide receivers in the game brought us a déjà vu moment in every regard when they once again shined bright through the use of what I referred to as the sixth sense of movement…kinesthetic sense & awareness. Last week, we also discussed what I feel what we can do, as football movement specialists and performance coaches, to develop this quality in our players.

    AB84 pic 2

    APTOPIX Buccaneers Falcons Football

    As you will see when you watch the plays, these Houdini-like movement solutions, with the sixth sense as their drivers, bring together perception and action, information and movement, like no other play you are likely to see in an annual NFL year. Both of these individuals, Brown with his cool, calm, and collected snag and toe-drag, and Jones with his opposite shoulder, fluid contortion with his body, hands, and feet, show us what it’s like to be still amidst chaos and make even the most challenging and novel of movement problems no match for skill and mastery. Of course, I could ramble on and on as I so often do when discussing exceptional, adaptive movement behavior but instead I am going to shut up (don’t get used to it) and let these two guys, who are playing at otherworldly levels right now, do the talking for me.

    Here is our former Mover of the Year (2015) working his typical magic:

    http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Fnfl-cant-miss-plays%2F0ap3000000883788%2FCan-t-Miss-Play-Antonio-Brown-makes-toe-tap-catch-of-the-year

    Finally, here is Brown’s equal, Julio, showing that he won’t be outdone:

    http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Fnfl-game-highlights%2F0ap3000000882738%2FJulio-Jones-shows-body-control-to-make-20-yard-catch

     

     


     
  • Shawn Myszka 7:02 pm on November 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    2017 Play of the Week – Week 11 

    Game: Titans at Steelers AND Falcons at Seahawks

    Play: Two of the very best in the game showing off their sixth sense of skill

    AB84 pic 1

    Julio pic 3.jpg

    What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

    Given enough time (weeks over the course of a season and reps within a game), the highest level of perennial performers of the NFL will shine bright for all to see. Often times, this happens in the same week (or sometimes even the same game) and sometimes, the plays that they make, are eerily similar to one another in the movement attributes and problem solving characteristics that they flowed from. Of course, this is precisely the case this week! Because of this, two players are awarded our Movement Play of the Week for Week 11.

    Maybe the player who has been a mainstay at Football Beyond the Stats more than any other in the League over the years is week 11’s first standout performer who just so happens to be our 2015 Mover of the Year, Pittsburgh Steeler WR, Antonio Brown. Annually, AB84 is on our short list to be standing at the end of the year as the most skilled doing it and this year is no different. Click here below to see our 2015 write-up on AB84.

    https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/2015-mover-of-the-year-antonio-brown/

    Not to be outdone, we find a guy that has also gotten love here before in our Super Bowl preview last year as well as being named Third Team on our All-Movement Team for 2016 (note: Brown as our First Team WR). This also marks the second week in a row that an Atlanta Falcon was given our Movement Play of the Week. You can check out what I had to say last year about one of the most athletic guys in the game during last year’s Super Bowl movers to watch. NOTE: Yes; I am aware that the pics included in this breakdown are not of Julio’s catch on Monday night, but I was unable to find a clear pic of it online yet…so bear with me!

    https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2017/02/03/super-bowl-li-preview-movers-to-watch/

    What happened movement-wise on the play?

    I frequently discuss how important the sensory and perceptual systems are in the coordination and control of movement and sport skills. Without them (the sensory and perceptual systems) being highly attuned to the task-relevant information at-hand on the particular play, the self-organization of movement solutions that emerge will be far from optimal. It’s because of this that I always attempt to understand where the individual’s sensory-perceptual skill level resides and how the processes of these systems are integrating in the display of movement to determine how the player is connecting with the environment.

    When we think of sensory and perceptual skill, we almost always gravitate towards discussing the visual system. To a certain degree this is rightfully so, as our visual system brings in a vast majority of the informational input to guide the decisions that we make and the movement actions which emerge. However, we are complete sensory beings! And the information that our sensory systems bring in is highly rich if we learn how to use all the systems together…from the visual system and all the way through the other four of the five senses…and along with what I refer to as the sixth sense of skill coordination and control; kinesthetic sense & awareness. In a nutshell, this characteristic is essentially the possession of a supreme understanding (whether it’s a conscious understanding or more subconscious one) of where one’s body is in time and space and what is occurring as they are performing a respective movement action.

    Julio pic 4

    The examples of when we can witness the contribution of kinesthetic sense & awareness on display are endless on any given play on any given Sunday. However, there is probably no better time to see it than when a guy has to go up and assist his quarterback in a highly contested situation and attempt to snag in a ball in a unique and novel fashion. Another former All-Movement Team member, Odell Beckham Jr, is known as a recent master of those individuals who routinely make these types of grabs and end up on highlight reels across the league. That said, our two performers today are right there with Beckham in this category as we are about to find out.

    I am going to do things a bit out of order here so you can see what I am referring to. Thus, go ahead and watch these plays now.

    Click here to see our past Mover of the Year in action:

    http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Fnfl-cant-miss-plays%2F0ap3000000878368%2FCan-t-Miss-Play-A-B-gets-third-TD-on-unreal-one-handed-helmet-catch

    Next, click below to watch see Julio trying to on up his past performances and AB84 here:

    http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Fnfl-cant-miss-plays%2F0ap3000000880842%2FCan-t-Miss-Play-Julio-Jones-submits-nomination-for-Catch-of-the-Year

    As you can see from the plays, the sixth sense of movement was prominent and reigned supreme! In fact, I think we can say that kinesthetic sense & awareness was the key performance indicator leading to the success of the movement organization of Brown and Jones. Sure, they needed to be the right place at the right time in relation to the opponent and the ball. They also needed to have extraordinary confidence in catching the ball in various extreme fashions especially when it’s not exactly where one is expecting it to be. Additionally, of course, it could also be argued that both of those two aforementioned features are influenced by one possessing the highest levels of kinesthetic sense & awareness!

    AB84 pic 3

    Often, I will hear coaches say that this aspect of one’s movement and sport skill is un-teachable and innately given by nature. However, I just don’t believe this to be true. In fact, I believe it is a quality that can be developed over time if we attempt to prioritize it accordingly and place our players in environmental situations where they must sense & perceive where they are in space constantly and have to control their movement actions in unpredictable problematic situations (such as guys knocking them off-balanced, or catching the ball one-handed at various angles & speeds, etc). Thus, though we should marvel at what Brown and Jones did on Sunday (and what they frequently do), we should also use them as an example of where we should head with our own athletes.


     
  • Shawn Myszka 6:12 pm on November 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    2017 Play of the Week – Week 10 

    Game: Cowboys at Falcons

    Play: Not 1 sack, not 2 or 3 sacks, but 6 sacks!?!

    Clayborn pic 1

    What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

    I can’t begin to tell each and everyone out there how difficult it is to achieve certain feats within an NFL game. A task outcome that looks as simple as scoring a touchdown (no matter in what facet that this touchdown occurs), grasping an interception, or recording a sack are extraordinarily impressive feats. For example, this is precisely why if an individual registers an average of even just one sack a game they are immediately given serious consideration for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.

    Well, as impressive as one sack per game is…imagine notching up not just one sack in a game, and not even just two or three sacks…but six sacks! That is precisely what Adrian Clayborn, DE of the Atlanta Falcons, did against the Tyron Smith-less Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. This number ended up only one shy of the NFL record set by Derrick Thomas way back in 1990. The length of time that this record has stood should tell you enough of how incredible the feat is but we should also keep in mind that the NFL offensive landscape has also changed significantly in that timeframe (even though there is more emphasis on passing the ball there’s also a lot more quick hitting passes with a lot less frequent deeper drops); thus, it makes what Clayborn did on Sunday a no-brainer for recognition on our Movement Play of the Week for Week 10.

    What happened movement-wise on the play?

    Entering the game on Sunday, Adrian Clayborn had notched only two sacks in the first eight games of the season. As it turns out, it wouldn’t take Clayborn more than a few minutes into the second quarter to double up this season figure. Though every top NFL player loves to be presented with the challenge of facing one of the very best in the league at the position lined up on the other side of him, Clayborn had to have been literally salivating as soon as he saw that the Dallas Cowboys would be without All-Pro Tackle Tyron Smith and instead would be starting Chaz Green. From the looks of it, I’m not sure Green knew exactly what he was in for on this day.

    Normally when people talk about pass rushing forces on the Atlanta Falcons the first guy that comes to mind is 2016 NFL sack leader, Vic Beasley (a member of our 2016 All-Movement Team). However, as Clayborn showed on Sunday, he is also a supremely-dominant force to be reckoned with and he took advantage of his opportunity to line up versus a guy that was left grasping for air more times than we can count on one hand Sunday. That all said though, let’s remember that no matter how lopsided the match-up looked at any point during the game, and no matter who it is that we are talking about in the league, each player is still presented with a challenge of facing one of just 1,695 other active players in the world who are capable of playing at that upper echelon level. Thus, let’s be sure not to discredit Clayborn’s performance just because it happened against a non-starting offensive lineman.

    Clayborn pic 2

    Because I am guessing that it would be just a little too much for those out there to listen to me break down each step taken within each sack, I will let you scroll down to the bottom of the page and watch all three minutes worth of sacks if you so choose. If you do, you will see Clayborn dominated on Sunday not due to some overly diverse and vast array of tools in his pass rushing toolbox (as it so often is the case when we highlight players here on our blog) but instead he relied on key performance indicators of his skill which are displayed by almost every top sack master; acceleration off the edge and cornering around the edge. In fact, I think we can trace each sack but one (which came through the use of an inside spin move) to a certain level back to these two features of who he is. Additionally, a couple of key performance indicators of his psychology truly made it all possible; his unwavering trust in his abilities combined by his intention to go out and be a game changer all game long.

    Clayborn pic 5

    This may all sound pretty intuitively obvious but for a football movement coach & analyst (note: I don’t work with or know Clayborn at all) it was great to see this combination of traits that I often preach to defensive players result in such a record setting day. Don’t get me wrong; many coaches preach this approach (both physical and psychological) to their pass rushers (and players across their roster for that matter) but to me it’s something that they must be exposed to day-in and day-out which can be developed and acquired as second nature: the repeated explosive burst out of his stance, driving the corner hard and fast, the ability to perceive when an opening in the problem-solving dynamic is present and when Prescott was just within reach to trust his abilities and leap to attack…they were all things of beauty exhibited by Clayborn and they combined to accumulate into six sacks but also force a few turnovers along the way, as well.

    Click below to watch Clayborn record sack after sack here:

    http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Fnfl-game-highlights%2F0ap3000000876135%2FWatch-every-sack-from-Adrian-Clayborn-s-record-day

     


     
  • Shawn Myszka 5:55 pm on November 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    2017 Play of the Week – Week 9 

    Game: Chiefs at Cowboys

    Play: Hill showing off more than his speed

    USP NFL: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT DALLAS COWBOYS S FBN DAL KC USA TX

    What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

    When the 2016 season ended, and when the 2017 began, I knew it was only a matter of time until we saw this performer find his way onto our top spot as the movement play of the week. Certainly, the Kansas City Chief do-it-all playmaker, Tyreek Hill, has been making plays all season long but at times these plays were due to more one-dimensional aspects of his movement skill-set (i.e. namely his blazing speed). This is all fine and dandy to both Hill and the Chiefs because as long as he makes it into the end zone all is well in the world. However, because of the vast array of masterfully executed movement performances each week, often times it takes uniqueness, diversity, and dexterity in both the movement problem and the solution offered in order to get our top spot. As you will see from this week’s play where I feel it is the best movement performance, Hill was finally able to show off more qualities within his movement toolbox than just his extraordinary speed.

    Before we go any further though, you can see some past brief write-ups from our blog on the Chief who is looking to make his second All-Movement Team in his two seasons in the League.

    https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/2017-movers-to-watch/

    https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/2016-all-movement-team-offense/

    https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2016/12/14/2016-play-of-the-week-week-14/

    What happened movement-wise on the play?

    This play begins with time running out in the first half of the Cowboy-Chief game so even though it’s only 2nd and 3 to go, the Cowboys line up in their prevent defense which is backed up to allow for a short to medium Chiefs gain in hopes of heading to the locker room with a 14-3 lead. However, with the Chiefs playmaking crew spread across the field including bunched trips to the wide side which held two All-Movement Team members for 2016 in both tight end Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill.

    With just a three man rush attempting to pressure quarterback Alex Smith, the Chiefs signal caller has plenty of time to casually scan and determine the place (i.e. player) to put the ball into the hands of in order to turn that Cowboy’s allowed moderate gain into something bigger & better. In spatial situations like this, there are few players better than Tyreek Hill currently in the league to expect to do just that. As soon as the ball gets into Hill’s hands, it turns into a glorified special teams return type of play and Hill’s movement instincts fully kick in.

    As I have mentioned before, though people rant and rave about Tyreek Hill’s mind-blowing linear speed, (though it certainly accounts for some of the plays that he makes), in my opinion, it is NOT this characteristic that makes him so dangerous in a variety of problem situations on a football field. To match a variety of problems, one needs a variety of solutions. Furthermore, in order to employ access of a variety of solutions, one must become attuned to the nuances of the problem and understand how to match the potential solutions to it. And this IS precisely the characteristic that allows Hill to be one of the best doing it. Luckily for us, we get to see it on display here.

    Catching the ball on the 42 yard line, he turns to look up field only to see two of his blockers seven to eight yards in front of him (with another running on the sideline to his left anxious to help out) and not a single Cowboy defender in screen sight. Hill simultaneously gets into brief sub-maximal acceleration mode for the next seven or so yards before casually decelerating to a controlled transition pace still moving linearly up the field. Though a really dangerous playmaker has the ball in his hands running as chill up the field as one will find in the NFL and with blockers ready to act as a convoy, the Cowboys defenders still are likely not panicking yet as they drastically have numbers in their favor (with eight guys scattered from their 25 yard line to their goal line).

    Hill employs a Le’Veon Bell-like patient strategy here to let his blockers gain better position while concurrently gathering information from the environment and task around him to make an accurate decision off of (i.e. a key aspect of movement mastery). Being outmanned, the Chief’s blockers must also perceive and make decisions here, as well; in selecting who to block, when to block them, and how to block them. It should go without saying but these movement solutions (by the blockers) will become part of Hill’s interaction with the strategies and solutions he personally selects. This becomes a situation that is known in movement sciences as ‘shared affordances’ where teammates must understand what is trying to be accomplished among one another and determine how to act accordingly.

    Hill pic 1

    Because they have numbers in their favors here, a number of Cowboy defenders come free and will have an attempt to tackle Hill. At the 22 yard line, with Hill on the 26, he will face his first immediate agility problem. He stutters quickly to give the defender the impression that he could go either to his left or right here. It’s likely that based off of what he was seeing though, he only had every intention to head to the sideline (with #30 for the Cowboys sealing the gap that exists at the hashes to Hill’s right). Hill hits a quick little jab step with his right foot that morphs into a speed crossover cut to his left. The Cowboy’s defender has no shot here; due in part of his poor high body positioning, late reaction, and a real quick-to-get-moving-laterally Hill.

    At the 25 yard line Hill then bypasses this defender (#32) and turns the corner on/with him. Once he ‘feels’ that he is by him, his head and eye gaze immediately look for their next affordance for action. Seeing several of his guys occupying blocks on defenders, he sees a lane along the numbers which for a guy with the world class speed that Hill has, is more than enough to run through. He only hits about three real powerfully-intended acceleration steps with allows him to chew up the next six to seven yards in a hurry. Obviously, while he is doing this, the problem is dynamically changing in front of him, as well. Because of that, when he gets to the 17 yard line, he hits an outside foot, unilateral speed cut which allows him to maintain a tremendous amount of momentum into and out of to push him back into the teeth of the problem.

    Hill pic 2

    Out of this cut (which you could miss if you’re not going frame by frame through the play sequence), he ricochets into a quick burst of energy (due to the velocities that he is able to hit early in locomotion as well as the speed he held into and out of the cut) which gets him to eat up traffic-crowded ground till the 12 yard line. It’s at this time, with a whole lot of chaos happening around him, that he executes a fast-acting, hopping motion to bypass the last available Cowboy defenders and finally find himself into the end zone for the unlikely 57-yard touchdown to end the half and close the gap in the score between the two teams.

    Click below to watch Hill doing his thing here:

    http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Fnfl-cant-miss-plays%2F0ap3000000872420%2FCan-t-Miss-Play-Tyreek-Hill-evades-brigade-to-score-impossible-TD

     


     
  • Shawn Myszka 5:55 pm on November 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    2017 Play of the Week – Week 9 

    Game: Chiefs at Cowboys

    Play: Hill showing off more than his speed

    USP NFL: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT DALLAS COWBOYS S FBN DAL KC USA TX

    What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

    When the 2016 season ended, and when the 2017 began, I knew it was only a matter of time until we saw this performer find his way onto our top spot as the movement play of the week. Certainly, the Kansas City Chief do-it-all playmaker, Tyreek Hill, has been making plays all season long but at times these plays were due to more one-dimensional aspects of his movement skill-set (i.e. namely his blazing speed). This is all fine and dandy to both Hill and the Chiefs because as long as he makes it into the end zone all is well in the world. However, because of the vast array of masterfully executed movement performances each week, often times it takes uniqueness, diversity, and dexterity in both the movement problem and the solution offered in order to get our top spot. As you will see from this week’s play where I feel it is the best movement performance, Hill was finally able to show off more qualities within his movement toolbox than just his extraordinary speed.

    Before we go any further though, you can see some past brief write-ups from our blog on the Chief who is looking to make his second All-Movement Team in his two seasons in the League.

    https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/2017-movers-to-watch/

    https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/2016-all-movement-team-offense/

    https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2016/12/14/2016-play-of-the-week-week-14/

    What happened movement-wise on the play?

    This play begins with time running out in the first half of the Cowboy-Chief game so even though it’s only 2nd and 3 to go, the Cowboys line up in their prevent defense which is backed up to allow for a short to medium Chiefs gain in hopes of heading to the locker room with a 14-3 lead. However, with the Chiefs playmaking crew spread across the field including bunched trips to the wide side which held two All-Movement Team members for 2016 in both tight end Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill.

    With just a three man rush attempting to pressure quarterback Alex Smith, the Chiefs signal caller has plenty of time to casually scan and determine the place (i.e. player) to put the ball into the hands of in order to turn that Cowboy’s allowed moderate gain into something bigger & better. In spatial situations like this, there are few players better than Tyreek Hill currently in the league to expect to do just that. As soon as the ball gets into Hill’s hands, it turns into a glorified special teams return type of play and Hill’s movement instincts fully kick in.

    As I have mentioned before, though people rant and rave about Tyreek Hill’s mind-blowing linear speed, (though it certainly accounts for some of the plays that he makes), in my opinion, it is NOT this characteristic that makes him so dangerous in a variety of problem situations on a football field. To match a variety of problems, one needs a variety of solutions. Furthermore, in order to employ access of a variety of solutions, one must become attuned to the nuances of the problem and understand how to match the potential solutions to it. And this IS precisely the characteristic that allows Hill to be one of the best doing it. Luckily for us, we get to see it on display here.

    Catching the ball on the 42 yard line, he turns to look up field only to see two of his blockers seven to eight yards in front of him (with another running on the sideline to his left anxious to help out) and not a single Cowboy defender in screen sight. Hill simultaneously gets into brief sub-maximal acceleration mode for the next seven or so yards before casually decelerating to a controlled transition pace still moving linearly up the field. Though a really dangerous playmaker has the ball in his hands running as chill up the field as one will find in the NFL and with blockers ready to act as a convoy, the Cowboys defenders still are likely not panicking yet as they drastically have numbers in their favor (with eight guys scattered from their 25 yard line to their goal line).

    Hill employs a Le’Veon Bell-like patient strategy here to let his blockers gain better position while concurrently gathering information from the environment and task around him to make an accurate decision off of (i.e. a key aspect of movement mastery). Being outmanned, the Chief’s blockers must also perceive and make decisions here, as well; in selecting who to block, when to block them, and how to block them. It should go without saying but these movement solutions (by the blockers) will become part of Hill’s interaction with the strategies and solutions he personally selects. This becomes a situation that is known in movement sciences as ‘shared affordances’ where teammates must understand what is trying to be accomplished among one another and determine how to act accordingly.

    Hill pic 1

    Because they have numbers in their favors here, a number of Cowboy defenders come free and will have an attempt to tackle Hill. At the 22 yard line, with Hill on the 26, he will face his first immediate agility problem. He stutters quickly to give the defender the impression that he could go either to his left or right here. It’s likely that based off of what he was seeing though, he only had every intention to head to the sideline (with #30 for the Cowboys sealing the gap that exists at the hashes to Hill’s right). Hill hits a quick little jab step with his right foot that morphs into a speed crossover cut to his left. The Cowboy’s defender has no shot here; due in part of his poor high body positioning, late reaction, and a real quick-to-get-moving-laterally Hill.

    At the 25 yard line Hill then bypasses this defender (#32) and turns the corner on/with him. Once he ‘feels’ that he is by him, his head and eye gaze immediately look for their next affordance for action. Seeing several of his guys occupying blocks on defenders, he sees a lane along the numbers which for a guy with the world class speed that Hill has, is more than enough to run through. He only hits about three real powerfully-intended acceleration steps with allows him to chew up the next six to seven yards in a hurry. Obviously, while he is doing this, the problem is dynamically changing in front of him, as well. Because of that, when he gets to the 17 yard line, he hits an outside foot, unilateral speed cut which allows him to maintain a tremendous amount of momentum into and out of to push him back into the teeth of the problem.

    Hill pic 2

    Out of this cut (which you could miss if you’re not going frame by frame through the play sequence), he ricochets into a quick burst of energy (due to the velocities that he is able to hit early in locomotion as well as the speed he held into and out of the cut) which gets him to eat up traffic-crowded ground till the 12 yard line. It’s at this time, with a whole lot of chaos happening around him, that he executes a fast-acting, hopping motion to bypass the last available Cowboy defenders and finally find himself into the end zone for the unlikely 57-yard touchdown to end the half and close the gap in the score between the two teams.

    Click below to watch Hill doing his thing here:

    http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Fnfl-cant-miss-plays%2F0ap3000000872420%2FCan-t-Miss-Play-Tyreek-Hill-evades-brigade-to-score-impossible-TD

     


     
  • Shawn Myszka 2:41 am on November 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    2017 Play of the Week – Week 8 

    Game: 49ers at Eagles AND Texans at Seahawks

    Play: A Pair of Pick Sixes

    NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles

    Earl pic 1

    What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

    Here we are…already halfway through another NFL season! Week 8 has come and gone and with it we were brought another laundry list of plays that could’ve worn our top nod hat. From rookie WR JuJu Smith-Schuster for the Steelers getting out and turning on the open field jets versus the Lions to my man Melvin Gordon showing patience and precise timing to perform a proficient cut which sprung him to show off his movement toolbox en route to a 87 yard touchdown run versus the Super Bowl champs. The more plays I broke down though, the more that two particular plays stuck out to me for their supreme playmaking displays…ironically, both of these plays just so happened to come by defensive players returning interceptions for touchdowns; 1). Jalen Mills of the Philadelphia Eagles and 2). Our 2014 Mover of the Year, Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks (https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/2014-bts-mover-of-the-year-earl-thomas/)

    It seems as though at least once each year there comes a time when a defensive player gets a ball in his hands and behaves so much like an offensive player that he gets my recognition as the movement performance of the week. Additionally, it also seems as though at least once per season I get so conflicted on a given week between two or more plays that I have to praise both players. Well, with this week’s breakdown, it looks as though we will be checking off each of those boxes for the year on the same week! So, without further adieu, let’s go give credit where credit is due.

    What happened movement-wise on the play?

    Arguably, no type of play can single-handily change a course of a game more dynamically than a pick-six. There’s just something special about a defensive player flipping script on their offensive counterparts and taking one the opposite way to the house.

    Honestly, I believe that this doesn’t happen as much as it could for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s normal verbiage to hear a coach say something along the lines of, “that’s why you play DB and not WR” when a defending player drops a ball on a play. To piggyback on this, I find that defensive players too often possess “too defensive” of intentions so there are times that they almost don’t give themselves permission (whether this is conscious or more subconscious) to go attack a ball in the air heading towards a receiver. Additionally, when catching of the football is actually practiced for DBs, it’s often done in too static of conditions to ever really allow the individual to truly get comfortable catching the football when it happens in more organic, game-like conditions. Finally, I also don’t believe the act of turnover-caused possession change is practiced enough in various contexts so when players do get these opportunities, they don’t really possess the refined capabilities towards shining within them. All of this equates to a player not truly acquiring the all-encompassing, problem-solving skill of intercepting a ball in space and then doing what’s necessary to evade offensive players to gain a hearty return and potentially score like our two special performers today did.

    Note: Because we are featuring two plays today, it won’t be the same step-by-step, moment-by-moment breakdown as usual. Instead, we will highlight some of the nuances of what popped out to me that made them possible.

    Jalen Mills

    It seems as though the Philadelphia Eagles are representing well on this year’s plays of the week. It should come as no surprise that with this proficient movement they are also gathering up victories in the process. This time, it is cornerback Jalen Mills that is carrying on this 2017 Eagle movement tradition. The explosive second year man out of LSU appears to now be finding a feel for the game at this level including enhanced visual perceptual skills that lead into sharper actions; all on this display on today’s play.

    1. Trust; to pick off the ball at the 38 yard line, Mills has to fully trust not only his abilities to attack the ball and accelerate to/through it to get to it before the ball reaches the 49ers intended receiver, but he must also trust what his perceptual system (namely his visual system) tells him about where the ball is going and when it’s going to get there.
    2. Kinesthetic sense/awareness; once Mills has the ball, he must know where he is in time and space in order to make the most out of his opportunity. Through proper skill acquisition, expert movers will take in sensory information from all sources in order to give them the most telling picture to guide their subsequent movement behaviors. From around the 28 yard line till the time 15 yard line, we see Mills not only moving controllably in space but also scanning accordingly to understand how the problem is dynamically changing in front of him.Mills pic 3
    3. True agility; After Mills comes to a screeching, proficient stop at the 12 yard line, he hits a jab to crossover cut followed by changing his path to head east & west to run back to the middle of the field (at one point even losing ground back to the 14 yard line). From this initial cut at the sideline (the one previously mentioned at the 12) till he reaches the end zone, we see Mills on several occasions just looking to make something happen and doing whatever was necessary to make people miss in space.

    You can see Mills and his interception here:

    http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Fnfl-cant-miss-plays%2F0ap3000000868652%2FCan-t-Miss-Play-Mills-snags-INT-navigates-way-to-37-yard-pick-six

    Earl Thomas

    If you’ve followed my blog for any period of time, you will know that one of my very favorite players to watch in today’s NFL (or ever) is Seattle Seahawk safety, Earl Thomas. Though Earl was surpassed last year for the top spot on my All-Movement Team by the Giants’ Landon Collins, Thomas remains without equal for many of the things that he is capable of when manning centerfield for the perennial knockout (and supremely moving) Seahawk defense. In today’s featured play, we get to see some of these rare skills on full display.

    1. Deception; usually, the word deception is only used to describe offensive players in elusive agility situations where they get a defender to over-anticipate, bite on one move, and be fooled into another. However, masterful defenders, especially defensive backs, seem to be equally adept at deceiving quarterbacks (especially young quarterbacks) and getting them to throw the football where they will later regret. It would appear that this is a perfect exhibit of it as Earl fools rookie Texan QB Deshaun Watson into throwing the exact ball that Thomas desired to head the other way with.
      1. Offensive-like elusiveness; once he has the ball in his hands, Thomas possesses not only the physical qualities (namely quickness and speed) but also the problem-solving agility skills of some of the game’s most elusive offensive playmakers. Take a peek at what he does to Watson (poor rookie!) between the 35 and 40 yard line. Often times when defensive players have the ball, they often are out there just improvising and compensating. But Earl literally sets Watson up with a two-way go that once Watson gives his tell that he believes Thomas it headed to the sideline, Earl executes a high-speed crossover cut and brings it back to the inside of the Texans QB.Earl pic 3
    2. Burst to speed; as soon as he has the rookie QB on skates, we see what world class acceleration and linear speed for a safety looks like as Thomas doesn’t risk getting sniped by a Texan player and wastes no time getting up to speed to ensure that no one stands a chance at bringing him down. When we watch the more bird’s eye view of the play unfolding, we can first begin to appreciate how much faster Earl Thomas is compared to everyone else. Coupled with the instinct and swagger, this type of speed is almost unfair.

    Click below to watch Earl doing his thing here:

    http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Fnfl-cant-miss-plays%2F0ap3000000868910%2FCan-t-Miss-Play-Earl-Thomas-takes-off-for-pick-six

     


     
  • Shawn Myszka 3:02 am on October 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    2017 Play of the Week – Week 7 

    Game: Bengals at Steelers

    Play: Le’Veon finding his movement swagger

    Bell pic 2

    What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?

    Another week…another RB who has spent time on our All-Movement Team in the past making a rather eye-opening appearance on our play of the week (joining ’15 Team member Adrian Peterson from last week). Coincidentally, this also wasn’t without being pushed by a few other former All-Movement Team RBs, as well; LeSean McCoy (’13, ’14, & ‘15 All-Movement Team and ’13 Mover of the Year) putting a nasty move on Brent Grimes (who was the victim of AD’s crispy cut last week) and Zeke Elliott (’16 All-Movement Team and Rookie Mover of the Year) finally finding his movement groove during a huge play.

    That all said, it was none other than Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers (’14 and ’16 All-Movement Team) who receives our nod for this week’s top movement performance and it will come as no surprise once ya’ll see the play we are breaking down. After a training camp hold-out, it honestly took a few weeks for Bell to look like his trademark self again; this can occur even for a masterful mover as sometimes one needs to feel their timing again in reference to the common problems that they must solve and the affordances for action that exist within them. However, I think it’s safe to say that Bell has now re-found his movement swagger and has fixated himself back in the front of the All-Movement Team campaign for 2017.

    https://footballbeyondthestats.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/2016-all-movement-team-offense/

    What happened movement-wise on the play?

    With the game tied at 14, Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers offense finds themselves with a manageable 2nd and 2 from their own 41 yard line. To the right of Big Ben stands his all-world, do-everything RB in Le’Veon Bell. Ben takes the shotgun snap and you can immediately see the behaviors of all three Cincinnati Bengals LBs lock in their visual scanning to saccade between Ben and Le’Veon; both equally scary in this 2nd and short type of situation. If there was ever a scenario where there needs to be multiple guys spying on one man it’s when Le’Veon has the chance to get a ball in his hands in space.

    Even with that number of spies, they may as well be looked at as victims because that is precisely what they are about to become on this play…movement victims that is. After a brief hesitation by Bell, both of the outside backers hone in on the Steeler TEs and follow them respectively into coverage. Bell, on the other hand, sneaks out (how the current most dangerous offensive weapon in the game “sneaks” anywhere on a football field is beyond me) of the backfield and turns back to Big Ben while straddling the 40 yard line which is just three yards short of the line to gain at this point. But Bell wants much more than that!

    The ball reaches Bell’s hands and even before he has it secured he begins to turn in order to get an understanding of the problem that lies ahead. The Bengal’s MLB immediately comes crashing down on Bell knowing that it’s going to be a big problem if he doesn’t bring him to the ground somewhere close to the first down marker. With Vincent Rey approaching, Bell briefly looks to his left to determine any opportunities. But, it turns out, Bell was using this as a simple bait and switch to a certain degree as Rey takes the cheese and takes a step with his right foot and this allows Bell to have enough space to go back to his right; the LB’s left (note: most RB’s would not have had enough daylight to work with here with the relatively small gap between the LB and the other Bengals defenders coming towards him). I should say, arguably, Bell could have used a power step with his left foot to get up on his horse and try to cover some ground to his left which afforded a ton of green grass! However, it may not have gave us this movement fun that is about to ensue.

    From the bait and switch move mentioned earlier, Bell utilizes a quick left foot jab step which sets up the acceleration to his right. He picks up and puts down two rapid acceleration steps to pass through the closing lane that is very quickly getting filled with Bengal orange. No bother for Bell though as true masters of movement understand where they are in time and space and have zero need to panic. Thus, after he passes the first down marker on the 43 yard line till the 48/49 yard line, Bell hits the acceleration pedal. Known for possessing a movement signature that is characterized by more upright postures (in everything from agility actions to linear sprinting), we see Bell here in acceleration running higher than would be highlighted in most training videos on the art of acceleration. However, this is no training video…instead; it’s one of the best in the game utilizing authenticity in his movement which gives him greater opportunities to allow for creativity to emerge as well as options from his movement skill set.

    Bell pic 3.jpg

    With the ability to go to the sideline to his right or to cut back inside, at the 50 yard line we see Bell, with a defender already sold on the outside containment of the dazzling RB, execute a quick speed crossover cut (tight stance, high COM, at high speeds) with the previously mentioned defender still 6 to 7 yards away. The defender tries to recover and takes a leaping dive at Bell’s legs which he gets a bit of a blow on. This action is enough to slow Bell slightly and sets him up for a tackle attempt by Dre Kirkpatrick who is the next man up to try his hand at Bell…and soon the next man up to be put on a poster.

    Bell pic 6

    With Bell now on the Bengal 44 yard line, Kirkpatrick goes at him a little higher than would probably be advocated for with a guy who is as sneaky powerful as Bell is (many think of him as a more scat-like back yet forget that he is 220+). This is a tactical decision that the Bengal DB almost immediately regrets as he feels the full wrath of a Le’Veon Bell stiff-arm heard around the internet as he comes crashing down to the Pittsburgh grass.

    Bell pic 4

    After Kirkpatrick goes to the ground, and with the Steeler faithful erupting with enjoyment over a division rival DB getting posterized, Bell immediately gets back into acceleration. There is no one in the game, playing any position, who can be in any number of biomechanical positions and can still get back into a full acceleration mode as quickly as 26 can. We see that on full display here from the 43 all the way to around the 20 yard line with a whole host of Bengals chasing and a few of Bell’s Steeler teammates putting in blocking efforts. At the 20 yard line he decelerates slightly to hit another quick crossover cut which allows him to pick up a few more yards down to the 17 yard line before he elects to attempt to send one more resounding message with the Bengals LB, Rey, coming back into the play (who was made to look silly earlier, as well) who he stiff arms/shoves out of bounds.

    Click below to watch week’s tremendous play by one of the game’s best:

    http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Fnfl-game-highlights%2F0ap3000000865391%2FLe-Veon-Bell-s-stiff-arm-sends-Dre-Kirkpatrick-straight-to-the-turf

     


     
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