Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens examines a vertical route of Arizona Cardinals receiver Chad Williams and illustrates why tracking the ball is an unnatural act.
It’s unnatural to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. So is turning your head away from the path your heading when running at full speed.
It’s natural for a receiver to slow down when he turns his head to track the football. This is what Chad Williams does on this vertical route against the Bears on Sunday.
It’s hard to see for some, but watch Williams slow down as he turns to look for the ball. Turns too early and slows down when he does. pic.twitter.com/F5CmBA1fea
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 24, 2018
The Sideline Hustle’s Drew Lieberman noted this tendency with less refined receivers during our podcast conversation about the art of the catch. Skillful tracking is an overlooked ability because we often presume that all receivers possess it. However, we see that even NFL receivers with promising athletic ability still have lapses with this phase of the game.
Next time you watch a pitch-and-catch connection fail to hook up on a vertical route, check to see if the receiver slow down — even slightly — as he began tracking the football. If he does and the ball arrives 1-2 steps ahead of the receiver, you may rethink any previous assumptions you’ve had about the accuracy of the quarterback’s deep ball.
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