Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens shares a Christian McCaffrey run that illustrates why mature footwork involves keeping the feet on the ground as much as possible.
This is Christian McCaffrey running downhill in the Carolina Panthers offense. Yes, this was a rare sight last year in Charlotte, because the coaching staff got gadget-happy with the rookie until someone must have screamed to the coaching staff that McCaffrey is not a slot receiver or an athlete who can only do damage in space, but a real-deal-Evander-Holyfield running back who can produce with you’re every-day, garden-variety plays.
Yes, it’s a complete shocker that people would overthink McCaffrey’s usage, citing size and health concerns for a back who excelled in a college offense that’s about half a chromosome from being American Rugby. Equally unsurprising will be Carolina’s reticence to use him this way as often as they should in 2018.
Hopefully, I’m wrong but for now, let’s examine something McCaffrey does so well for a running back: Process traffic and alter his stride. The exchange point and first move of this run are shown below three consecutive times and at a slower speed with each successive exposure. You’ll notice McCaffrey shorten his stride with his right foot as he’s leaving the exchange point.
Smooth work from McCaffrey that illustrates why good footwork is about keeping the feet on the ground as much as possible. Two steps before the exchange, he reads the penetration and he could have easily attempted a jump cut through the exchange. I’ve seen backs do this before — sometimes successfully. McCaffrey opts for the elegant solution.
College and high school backs will do themselves a big favor if they work more on cutting their stride length as they react to obstacles. The more space you create with shorter steps, the more time you buy to avoid the opponent.
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