Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens shares a touchdown reception by Chargers running back Austin Ekeler that illustrates a fundamental act of good route running that every receiver must recognize and execute.
“Take the defender’s back!”
It’s a declaration every receiver coach makes—especially when he or she spots a defender giving his back voluntarily to his opponent. Running to the side where the defender’s back is turned forces that defender to either, continue running blind to the receiver’s actions or, most likely, forces the defender to turn his hips.
Force a defender to turn his hips in mid-route and unless those hips are made of ball-bearings, the receiver will gain separation. Here’s a route from Austin Ekeler against Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens that illustrates this point.
Austin Ekeler with excellent route v LB Anthony Hitchens and fine throw by Philip Rivers pic.twitter.com/tIN09FqpaX
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 10, 2018
When a collegiate player doesn’t identify the opponent giving his back on a route, it’s a sign that receiver has some basic things to address as a route runner before he can become a versatile, downfield target.
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