Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens examines wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s touchdown reception against the Rams during his rookie year and discusses the way multiple techniques work together to create fluid play-making.
Whether it’s running by defenders or transitioning from USF to the NFL, Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a fast football player. The second-year receiver is poised to become an emerging force in Green Bay in 2019 and there are several facets of Valdes-Scantling’s game that illustrate his promise.
The best qualities of a good player are those that work together and maximize that player’s athletic ability as a result. This touchdown against the Rams is a perfect example.
The individual moves are all identifiable: A stick, a dip of the sideline shoulder, and a rip upward with the sideline arm. Valdes-Scantling then caps the separation by stacking the defender (dipping his path directly over the top of the corner so the defender has to run through Valdes-Scantling to reach the target).
Beautiful rip by Marques Valdes-Scantling that knocks Hill’s arm aside and into an X with the other. pic.twitter.com/kFZsYqeUXV
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) October 29, 2018
What we inherently understand is that all four of these moves work well together and they drive the success of the play. However, we don’t always examine the movements close enough when the play looks this easy and we reserve deeper analysis for moments of failure.
Each move for a successful release should be efficient, explosive, and set up the next. Several times a week, I watch receivers in the college and pro games that will pair a stick move with an arm-over/chop or swipe.
When you spend a little more time picturing an effective stick, you notice that the player’s leg that makes the stick must work outside his opponent’s leg and force that defender to turn his hips. When performed effectively, that defender will be in a position where he cannot bring both his upper and lower body back into alignment as the receiver works in the opposite direction.
As a result, the defender’s upper body will usually be the first to react but it will lack the stability of the lower body to support it. If a receiver understands this, he will realize that the most effective follow-up movement to his stick is to exploit that defender’s lack of lower-body stability.
Valdes-Scantling’s shoulder rip allows him to work under the defender’s turn and reach and begin his acceleration phase immediately. It also sets up the upward rip that exploits the lack of lower-body stability that the receiver initially took away with the stick.
It all works together: The stick removes the lower-body stability, the dip prevents the defender from reaching and grabbing, and the rip capitalizes on the off-balance defender by making contact that exploits the defender’s lack of foundation.
If Valdes-Scantling used an arm-over, chop, or any move working high-to-low, rather than low-to-high, he’d be minimizing the effectiveness of his stick. The stick required a committed dip to the outside and it forces the receiver to initially open his chest to the defender.
If he uses a high-to-low move like the arm-over or chop, he’s exposing his chest to the defender for a longer period of time. This would give the off-balanced defender a chance to get his hand into the receiver’s chest and potentially knock the receiver off-balance.
If that happens, the hand to the receiver’s chest buys the defender time to retain his upper- and lower-body alignment that the stick initially move took away. Instead, the receiver’s dip and rip closed his chest from the defender and complemented his acceleration phase downfield while further reinforcing the defender’s lower-body instability.
This is a fluid use of multiple moves that maximize Valdes-Scantling’s acceleration and the stack then closes off the defender’s opportunity to legally break up the play—if he somehow caught up to the speedy receiver.
Having moves is good. Display effective moment is better. A lot of college players have several moves but don’t know how to combine them. The best players display good choices to combine moves towards the ultimate goal. Valdes-Scantling’s display here is a promising moment for this young receiver.
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