Matt Waldman’s RSP Twitter Vids: RB Isaiah Spiller (Texas A&M)

Matt Waldman is taking another look at the 2022 NFL Draft class of runners and shared some videos on Twitter on the skills and flaws of RB Isaiah Spiller. 

Watch a game or two of Isaiah Spiller and you can tell he has spent years refining his footwork without even checking out the Footwork King’s Instagram page. Spiller is an efficient mover in tight confines and open spaces. He can make the light-footed jump-cut or open his hips without needing a lot of space and find his way out of a phone booth without ever touching the 330-pound tackle packed in there with him.

(If you don’t know what a phone booth is, ask your grandparents.)

Footwork is only part of the equation. The best runners find productive solutions bounds of the blocking scheme before resorting to off-script behavior.

Spiller can do this as a zone runner–inside and outside–and on Toss. He’ll even anticipate the position that the pursuit will earn against his lead blocker, press the blocker to make it happen, and then cut back inside. Once he’s in the second level, his movement and acceleration become even greater assets.

Although considered a more straightforward blocking scheme for the running back, gap plays like Counter trip up Spiller conceptually. This look against Alabama isn’t the first time I’ve seen him eschew a perfectly good crease. With just a brief press of the edge containment, Spiller could have stayed on track and exploited a perfectly good crease.

This isn’t to say Spiller can’t run gap plays or produce when running Counter, but he’s not as confident with manipulating tight creases on gap plays as he is running versions of zone. Based on the several games I’ve studied, I’m more inclined to say Spiller’s specific issue with Counter is really symptomatic of a broader flaw: seeking the path of least resistance that turns out to be a mirage disguising a more difficult choice.

This open-field decision on an outlet pass is a good example.

Spiller had the open space to attack, but the idea of taking on multiple defenders was less appealing than attacking the cornerback. However, Spiller hasn’t done the inner calculus from his film work to reach an important conclusion: More good things happen for running backs in open space when they get north-south than turning east-west.

Once Spiller learns this, he can manipulate opponents into thinking east-west and exploit the north-south route. And when this happens, he’s activating more of his strengths and minimizing his weaknesses.

For the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), download the 2022 Rookie Scouting Portfolio for $21.95. 

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2 responses to “Matt Waldman’s RSP Twitter Vids: RB Isaiah Spiller (Texas A&M)”

  1. How can we find an easy way to search for the player we want to see your film rooms on? It’s very difficult to scroll around and find anything. I’m a member and want to find film on Walker III, Justyn Ross and David Bell

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