Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens shows why Steelers Le’Veon Bell is among the best runners in the game today and what young backs should notice.
Don’t come here looking for an editorial about Bell’s contract; just let me know when the Days of Our Lives has its reconciliation scene. I’m here for the football, and Bell’s running has developed from good to great since his early years at Michigan State.
One of Bell’s best traits is his loose hips. Footwork is vital, but it’s the hips that can allow a back to navigate the narrowest of spaces.
Bell turns his hips on this play in impressive fashion twice in this run, but it’s the second turn that’s a mind-blowing detail.
Some of you may feel nonplussed at the idea this is so good. Keep in mind that NFL players are the smallest and most skilled group of people playing organized football. The greater the skill, the greater the details matter. Separating a back like Bell from players Kenyan Drake involves the tiniest details of footwork, step rate, and skill to turn the hips — not only how to do it, but also when to do it.
When you’re studying running backs at the college level, hip mobility/looseness is a terrific athletic trait. If the back displays it and uses it productively, it’s also likely that you’re seeing a back who can press creases deeply, bait defenders to them, and change direction at the last moment.
This is another way of buying time because the amount of space that a back needs to avoid an opponent is smaller. Appreciate Bell while he’s at the top of his game because he’s a great athlete with a refined sense of his physical skills. Kenyan Drake is a great athlete who, by comparison, is just getting to know himself.
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