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Can you teach good route running?

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by BradyManny, Oct 19, 2006.

  1. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    Can Chad Jackson or Doug Gabriel become as good a route runner as Deion Branch? Is this something that can be learned?

    I guess my opinion is, "why not?" We all seem to have this idea that a wide receiver's route running ability is as static/unchangeable as size or speed, is there any basis for this? What's to prevent CJ and Gabriel developing the same ability to run routes and get open as Branch?
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2006
  2. Brownfan80

    Brownfan80 Rookie

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    I've always heard that there's a huge difference between speed and quickness. Branch was QUICK. He made clean fast cuts, changed direction on a dime, and was at full speed in a step. All of those things helped him run great routes even though his straightline speed was not elite.

    I'm not sure that Gabriel or Jackson cannot exhibit that quickness, but from what I understand that's a harder to acquire and more important part of true WR prestige than is a 40 time.

    Explosion in your breaks is what creates the most seperation in a route. I think the lack of quickness and explosion in the WRs breaks is why we see so little seperation between the DBs and WRs this season. Can it be learned? I hope so, because they don't have much of it yet in this system that I've seen.
  3. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    Good point. I can see how quickness would be seen in the same light as size and speed - as in, it's tough to change or improve - so is quickness the most important factor in route running? Could be.

    Take for instance a route Reche Caldwell ran in the Denver game. He didn't come in quickly at all, and as a result, Lynch almost picked off Brady. Branch was lightning fast in and out of his cuts, he probably would've been in the right position to make the catch.
  4. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Yep, people say that Branch didn't have great measurables because his 40 time coming out of college was merely good, not great. But his quickness scores -- 3-cone and especially short shuttle -- were outstanding. Branch ran the quickest shuttle in his receiver class.

    So who ran the fastest shuttle among this year's WRs? A fellow named Jackson out of the University of Florida.

    :)
  5. Brownfan80

    Brownfan80 Rookie

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    Well, that's very good news for the young-one's potential. Super!

    I'm glad you had that little stat handy, I didn't remember that about Jackson.
  6. Brownfan80

    Brownfan80 Rookie

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    I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's the single most important part of route running in general, but I think it's very vital in our passing attack.

    As far as being able to change it.. I really can only speculate, never having been involved in WR drills in my limited experience with organized football, but I'd guess that it is something that you can improve with repetition. But at this point in their careers they may have already maxed it out. Who knows.

    Very good call on the Caldwell route. I think you're exactly right.
  7. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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  8. Brownfan80

    Brownfan80 Rookie

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    I knew you couldn't make it through a totally unrelated post without brining up playcalling. I knew it from the moment I saw the post. :)
  9. patfanken

    patfanken On the Roster

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    You are absolutely correct. Branch's skill at making his breaks at virtually full speed is what gave him that SEPARATION and made him into an above average WR. His other strengths were his ability to read defenses and get in synch with his QBs. No one ever said Branch, who had limitations, didn't have strong skills in certain areas. It makes him a valuable WR, just not one you would break your salary structure for.

    Its not a matter of teaching another WR how to make his breaks as quickly as Branch, but to run routes that take advantage of the OTHER strengths that the WR might have. Guys like Gabriel have more raw speed than a Branch so you DON'T run a lot of double moves which would slow them down. Bigger WR, like the one we currently have can run routes that will take advantage of their size, like slants and fades. A bigger WR often doesn't need as much separation, especially if they are working against a small CB.

    BOTTOM LINE: I think the talent of the WR is fine. One of the great myths currently being espoused by the local media is that we don't have the WRs to go virtacle. They completely forget that Branch WAS NEVER a deep threat while he was here, and the fact that Grabriel, and Jackson are also faster than Branch. We CAN go deep. Brady mere has to be more accurate when he throws those patterns, and that will come with more practice. We also have to run routes that take advantage of the receivers we DO have, not the ones we ran when we had DIFFERENT kinds of guys.
  10. mgcolby

    mgcolby Woohoo, I'm a VIP!!! PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think Jerry Rice is the best evidence available that says it can be taught. He wasn't the fastest nor the quickest, but he practiced hard and perfected every technique he could.
  11. teamplay

    teamplay Rookie

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    Regarding Brady's success rate going vertical, don't I remember that 4 years ago, the post-season self-scouting indicated that Brady didn't connect as well on true vertical routes as often as deep, partially horizontal routes. The next year, Weis ran many more of the latter, and Brady was immense.

    This year the routes are true verticals again...I don't get it.
  12. Bostonian1962

    Bostonian1962 Rookie

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    I'm sure one can "improve" any part of their game. But, if somebody is really slow in and out of his/her cuts, maybe they improve to being kinda slow. To some extent each individual is limited by what they can do physically.

    Having said all that, I have high hopes for both gentlemen, because I think they bring some skills to the table.
  13. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    It's hard to tell what routes are being run on a TV set, at least for me. It's also hard to tell when the wideouts might not be running the routes as crisply as in years past. But, I guess I see your point, I've said in other threads I thought the playcalling in the pass offense has been really dull and perfunctory thus far, but that could be by design. The Pats always do what they have to do to win - they aren't the Colts - they don't run up scores (unless BB really wants to prove a point/send a message, ie Bengals game).
  14. emoney_33

    emoney_33 Rookie

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    Now I am not a profesional but from what I believe I know, quickness is both genetics and training. Off the top of my head, the fast twitch muscle fibers provide the initial explosion required for the quickness that guys like Branch have. The human body is genetically made up of a certain amount of both slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers. If you are lucky to be born with more fast twitch fibers you will have an advantage in the quickness/explosion category over someone with less even if you go through the same training.

    In a basic view there are also two types of fast twitch, IIa and IIb. I believe its IIb that provies the maximum power but fatigues almost instantaneously while the type IIa provides more power than the slow twitch (type I) but is less apt to fatigue than type IIb and can endure longer periods of stress.




    There are ongoing studies about changing the makeup of muscles through training. There is only limited evidence of this being possible right now, and the evidence suggests that over a long long period of time type IIb fibers can become type IIa fibers, however this helps endurance and not quickness. As of right now I BELIEVE that most of the advantage (quickness) from fast twitch muscle fibers in the higher athletic ranks (professional sports) is genetic and thus cannot be taught. Your opinion, NEM, seems to be correct based on evidence and studies of the human muscles thus far.



    Ok I'm not a professional, and I may be off base and missing a lot of things but thought I'd just throw out these things. Anyone can feel free to correct me with facts (not opinions that they "know" are right based on nothing).
  15. mgcolby

    mgcolby Woohoo, I'm a VIP!!! PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Who the hell is going to argue with that? :confused:

    I do know for a fact that an offense needs 10 yards to get a first down at the start of every drive. :D
  16. Oswlek

    Oswlek Rookie

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    I have been saying this since I the Branch issue came up and it is nice to see someone finally agree with me. We all remember Branch's two big plays in the Pitt AFCCG and the long pass vs. Denver last year, but, for the most part, Branch was used on short and intermediate routes. I've never understood the whole "deep threat" issue considering, as you said, speed isn't something NE's new WRs are lacking.

    (although since absolutely no one was responding to it, I was beginning to think I might be wrong)

    BTW, reading this has made me think of something. Unless I am mistaken, I think Gaffney is a more Branch-like WR who uses quickness rather than speed to gain seperation. I don't expect him to be anywhere near is as good, but maybe they are going to have him run those types of routes.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2006
  17. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Jackson matched up well with The Twig in the running times, Jackson was quite a bit faster in the 40 (4.32 vs. 4.47) and, in a weird coincidence, their 20 and 10 yard splits were identical (2.56 and 1.51).

    The cone times were slightly in The Twig's favor, 6.71 to 6.74. The Twig has a sizeable edge in Shuttle times, 3.76 to 4.03.

    You are correct, though, Jackson tied with Travis Wilson for the fastest Shuttle time in this past year's draft. Jackson also tied for the 3rd best 10 yard split (again, the same time as The Twig) so he doesn't have a quickness problem.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2006
  18. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I don't think you can teach speed or quickness.

    Clearly, route-running is something that can be taught, although we have certainly had a couple of fast players who couldn't learn this skill.

    The learning of routes takes lots of work and practice. It takes a lot of understanding of defenses. In the patriot schemes, the wr and qb need to read the defenses the same. Also, the wr needs to learn to feel the defenders and understand where the QB is likely to throw the ball.

    Of course, sheer talent helps! There are wide receivers in this league that can fake defenders out of their shorts, and can be open quite often. There are some that seem always to get both feet down inbounds. Some of this skill is learned, much depends on natural talent.

    I recall when Fryar starting to play with Bledsoe. For the first time, Bledsoe needed to the adjust to the possibility that wide receiver could actually outrun defenders.

    The bottom line for the patriots is that Brady can be a very effective quarterback without top receivers. In fact, he can make average receivers look like future pro-bowlers and MVP's. That QB skill should be comforting , given the quality of our receivers.
  19. chris_in_sunnyvale

    chris_in_sunnyvale Rookie

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    I interpretted that play differently, although it still points to a route running issue...

    On the replay, it looked like Caldwell saw Lynch, so he decided to slow down and sit in the gap between zones...something Branch excelled at...but Brady didn't make the same read and threw to where he expected Caldwell to continue running. Fortunately, Caldwell was able to pick up his speed and disrupt Lynch's attempt at a clean pick.

    I believe it was PonyExpress who wrote about BB's take on sight adjustments and timing adjustments receivers have to make. BB said there are about 3-4 sight adjustments per game and Caldwell looked like he was making one of those on this play. BB said that timing adjustments are more common, in which a receiver has to make his cut at a precise moment and if he's getting bumped, this might mean making the cut sooner upfield rather than farther upfield...and Brady has to read it as well.

    With Brady's outstanding ability to read a defense, the Pats have made good use of both of these adjustments over the past half-decade. The current group of WRs are probably not as good at these types of adjustments as Branch and Givens were, and Brady is struggling. I think this is the biggest factor in the passing game struggles, not the WRs' supposed inability to get separation on their breaks. Of course not having Gabriel and Jackson work on these issues at the start of training camp only exacerbates this.

    The best part is that it's a long season to iron out these adjustment issues and they've been winning in the meantime. Imagine if Gabriel and Jackson get good at making these adjustments...the Pats offense will be unstoppable come January (and February).

    Regards,
    Chris
  20. BelichickFan

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    Just for fun, here's Chad Johnson's numbers :

    40 : 4.57, 20 : 2.65, 10 : 1.56, Shuttle : 4.14, Cone : 7.51

    Again, Chad Jackson's were :

    40 : 4.32, 20 : 2.56, 10 : 1.51, Shuttle : 4.03, Cone : 6.74

    So our Chad's numbers were better across the board, some noticeably. There is clearly no physical attribute that will stop him. He's not some long legged giraffe who can run fast but nothing else.

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