Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio examines a play of 2019 NFL Draft prospect, RB L.J. Scott and classifies phases of movement at the position.
I’ve only begun to dive into Fergus Connolly’s book, Game Changer. Connolly is a coach at Michigan who has worked for a wide range of professional teams in various sports, including the San Francisco 49ers. Game Changer delves into the craft of building a winning team. Connolly is one of those few people who has studied multiple disciplines in enough depth to deliver perspective that many with a silo mentality cannot.
One of the things Game Changer covers is the phases of game-play and movement that are common in many forms of athletic events. Because I’m only a couple of chapters into this fantastic tome, I’m not well-versed in the details of Connolly’s work. What I’m sharing about running back L.J. Scott in this Boiler Room draws inspiration from the work but it is not meant to be an accurate representation of what Connolly has written about.
Even so, when I watched Scott on a run where he had to avoid penetration, leap over the legs of a defender to orient himself towards the open crease, and then attack the hole, the three movements reminded me of the way Connolly splits elements of games into microcosms of events.
I see Scott’s actions as a defensive movement (avoiding the penetration to prevent a tackle for a loss), a transitional movement between defensive and offensive play (re-orienting his body downhill), and an offensive movement (attacking the crease and finishing in a position to earn maximum yardage).
These three movements are important to scouting football players because they each identify and define separate processes that can be coached and practiced, but ultimately need to be integrated on the field and performed at the speed of instinct for them to become consistently effective tools in a player’s game. These ideas apply to every position and it’s a helpful way of breaking down game-play into components that analysts use for data gathering.
In terms of Scott’s play, this information reveals to us that Scott may not have top-shelf quickness and speed, but he’s a fluid player who identifies obstacles and solutions unfolding before him and he can flow from reactor to aggressor without hesitation. In other words, he plays fast enough on the field even if his metrics may not wind up as strong as his peers.
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