The Colts' inexperience and youth at receiver has severely hurt Andrew Luck this season, and we've talked about that a lot. But it's not always obvious what the effects of that are. The easiest way it hurts the offense is through consistent route-running. One of the under-appreciated things that Reggie Wayne brought to the table was his consistent, technically brilliant routes, something he learned from Marvin Harrison years ago.
It brought us gems like this:
With that in mind, take a look at these two plays from Sunday. Watch Griff Whalen and Da'Rick Rogers on the bottom of the clip run post routes.
On both plays, Luck makes the throw as the receiver makes the break, and is throwing to a spot.
Whalen's is sharp, fakes to the outside and includes good burst out of the cut. Rogers' is rounded, lazy and without a fake.
Whalen is wide open for a touchdown, Rogers gets undercut for an interception. It's a big difference, and one that the Colts, and Luck, have been living with all season.
I love the great route running ... Last year I would have celebrated some of the young receivers just getting in the neighborhood of where they're supposed to be ... too many times the young receivers didn't even manage to get where they were supposed to be. I think it was Brazill who just stopped running, looked like he decided Luck wasn't going to throw to him but he did ... And Brazill was loping along leisurely yards from the spot.
In honor of Richard Sherman getting his jock handed to him by Reggie can I suggest some fitting music to accompany the video?
Hopefully Reggie Wayne will recover fully from his ACL tear and plays a couple of more years. However, when Wayne does retire, what are the odds he goes on to win DTWS?
QUESTION: Any video of Rogers running a decent route where he shows he can move the defenders hips prior to making his cut? Otherwise we are going to be dependent on simply using his height and leaping ability along the sidelines.
@todd_e_smith great article. Da'Rick will get there, you can't be sloppy in the nfl. Griff's routes looked perfect on both.
I noticed that at the game Sunday and was wondering if it was just me, since it was the first time I saw Rogers live. Then I re-watched the game when I got home and one of the announcers said he thought Rogers may have been tipping off his routes. I don't think people realize how important running crips routes can be. They get wrapped up with his speed and size. I haven't had a chance to listen to the podcast, but I suspect you're saying the same thing.
At this point that's still way better than DHB.
I believe the knock on Rogers was his rawness and lack of technical skill. I assume that means crummy rout running. In theory at least he should be able to improve that with practice.
@smonroe No, it's not just you, you nailed it. People of course get all excited about size because it can't be taught, but as Rogers here showed, size is only part of the equation. We all remember Marvin and the insanely great routes he ran, but we don't stop and think of the fact that he was not a physical beast. He wasn't some stubby dude (he lists as 6 feet tall in Wikipedia), but he was no Randy Moss. Yet, he was one of the best any of us have ever seen. And it's because of his route precision: He pretty much defined it for the Colts, and many other teams as well.
As an aside for folks here who haven't watched Harrison in his prime, take the time to find a game tape or video. Or better yet, see if you can find an All-22. Man's routes were **perfect**, and they were as precise as they were unpredictable. As great as Reggie is - and there's no doubt he's great - Marvin was still a better route runner.
Anyway... I think part of being "raw" is exactly that: Not yet understanding and properly executing routes. I imagine it's easy to get caught up in the physicality of the role, the fight with the defensive back, the sheer thrill of running as hard as you can, but there's a reason football coaches harp on "technique", and that's because it's long been obvious that a great physical talent MUST be able to execute near perfectly to succeed against NFL-level opponents. That involves using known techniques to break free. And that takes a mindset willing to admit that it's not just effort, but well directed effort that brings you success. Directing that effort properly is the discipline all coaches, fans, and athletes talk about, and practice is the work towards properly directing that effort without conscious thought. When a player is young and still "raw", he hasn't got that all down yet. It may be that he's still in the college mindset of internalizing the technique. It could be that he's only slowly discovering the reality of NFL-level talent and that pure physicality isn't enough anymore. Or it could be bad things - lack of discipline, outright laziness, etc. - but that last is not a judgement to apply without evidence. The point is that learning the game is a complex thing to work through. And when you're raw, you have a LOT of work to do. Part of that work is understanding that technique, instead of just being all "go, Go, GOOOO!" is a large component.
Rawness can be cured. It just takes work. Hope to heck that Rogers succeeds at that. We could use a nice physical specimen, but only if he gets his technique down.
@smonroe Would love it if these young WRs were following Reggie around, studying the Book of Wayne. Reggie was the valedictorian at the Harrison school, to be sure - studied under the master for years. With the fluidity of the WR corps for the past few years (Garçon, Collie, Gonzalez...), you sure hope some of the younger WRs we have on the roster now are paying close attention. Who knows how much longer he'll be teaching?
And that first example of Wayne's route running is just ... wow. Perfect. I know we've seen it before, but, something to point out about this is that not only is it a great sharp route, but it's also executed perfectly bc Reggie knew his opponent. As a physical DB, Sherman needs only one straight ahead step from the WR to engage and start jamming him, and Reggie didn't even allow him to get that. Reggie's first step forces Sherman to react to the lateral movement. The result is that Sherman's first big step turns his hips away from the play, and Reggie's is golden. I know you can't see the wide view here, but it even makes you wonder how many YAC he could have gotten had Luck led him a bit more.
And now I weep for the games lost to Reggie's knee.
@hankster@thellamajockeyHave had several ski racing instructors who also coached several other sports including high school and small college football. In skiing they stressed how hard it is to unlearn bad habits. Let a kid ski on his own with little or no instruction for years, odds are he will spend the rest of his life fighting to unlearn sloppy technique.
DHB attended a HS in Owens Mill Maryland that was not impoverished by any means. I can't believe that coaches for almost a decade and a half have not tried to help him break his horrid body catching habits. I am sure DHB is now very aware of what the problems are and is trying hard to improve. It's just is not happening and is now extremely unlikely it ever will. I think DHB will be out the NFL next year.
Don't know how much precision route running factors into the college game, but it seems that more than a few talented WRs pick it up post draft. There sure seems to be plenty of top draft WR draftees who get picked on pure combine measurables and just better than average hands.
The main point being left out here about Marvin was that perfect route running aka. timing was all Peyton needed/wanted. A great QB (one I think Luck can be) and a great WR who are on the same page don't actually need amazing DB falling down type moves, don't even need separation...just precision and timing. Marvin was great because Peyton knew exactly where he was going to be in 2.5 seconds. Don't get me wrong, the big plays came because of a lot more...but the much needed 3rd down conversion came because Marvin was right where he was supposed to be, toes just inside the line, horizontal to the ground, arms outstretched, never a doubt hands on the ball.
@glwilliams4 Exactly. I've seen the same thing said before. And it was true; he rarely had to outright clash or otherwise fight off a DB's physical tricks, he often found separation and left them floundering. It was insane. DBs tried playing off him and alternately jamming him, and he got open so much.
No one's so good he could defeat everyone, though, and of course there were backs who could blanket him. Plus, good defensive schemes could of course defeat him. But it would take real effort. He was still crazy good, and his routes were still damn unpredictable. When you watched him for that first few yards, it *was* impossible to tell where he'd break to. Just identical every time. He was a machine.I really, truly miss him on the field.