We're all suckers for the latest and greatest highlights. Whether it's a running back absolutely flattening a tackler trying to bring him down, a quarterback putting a ball straight on the money or a defensive back laying the perfectly timed hit; that stuff makes our bodies jolt up, our eyes get wide and our voices say, "Oooooh!"
When it comes to playing wide receiver, there are a few ways you can evoke that kind of reaction. But if you go up and win a 50/50 ball over a DB in the end zone for a touchdown (commonly referred to as "getting Moss'd"), that'll probably do it. There are also receivers who have absurd one-handed catches that certainly capture attention. But in the realm of route running, there's one type of move in particular that, every time a receiver pulls it off, it looks like one of the finest works of art you'll find in the sport.
The double move.
The clean release, acceleration, hesitation and blow by; for a football fan, it's poetry in motion. When you can hit a clean double move, you command everyone's attention. And that's why from the very first one-on-one drill of the week at the East/West Shrine Bowl, Temple’s Isaiah Wright has had everyone's attention.
That was one of the cleanest hesitation/double moves I've seen in all my years of scouting Shrine practices. I knew Wright had been a four-year contributor for the Owls, and a guy who averaged more than 11 yards per catch throughout his career there. But I didn't know he had that kind of sauce in his game.
But Wright will tell you that that kind of sauce doesn't come without study and smarts to make it happen.
“The play call was a double move, but how you run it is dependent on the leverage of the DB, and you gotta know thee type of DB you’re going up against," Wright told TDN. "I knew I was going against an aggressive DB, and I knew that if I gave him a move and sold the move, been patient with the move it was going to work to my advantage. Sometimes you gotta win the route early in order to win it later.”
It's truly one of the best moves in the game. The set up, the hesitation and that moment where you can physical see the wide receiver about to snatch the soul out of a poor defensive back when he hits that hard cut. But the double move isn't something you can just do every drive. You have to save it for the right time. It's a process that begins before the ball is even snapped, and perfecting it takes recognition just as much as it does athleticism and precision. There's an observation period needed before you know that this is the time to do it.
“So I’m looking to see leverage. Is [the defensive back] going to be inside or outside, and I’m looking to see where his eyes are," Wright said. "Most of the time if his eyes are on you, you know there’s a high potential that it’s going to be man [coverage]. If his eyes are not on you, he’s playing a zone. That tells you which type of route you have to run to attack it."
It’s a lot to learn. It takes hours in the film room and on the field, constant repetition and picking your spots to strike. For Wright, though, it was a family thing.
“I was fortunate enough to have guys like Adonis Jennings, Keith Kirkwood, Ventell Bryant,” he said. “Being at Temple we always pride ourselves on having the right technique and doing things the right way. I had good mentors. They always taught me how to run routes, how to be patient on routes and how to sell routes, so I gotta give them some praise for that.”
Jennings, Kirkwood and Bryant all played in the NFL in some capacity after their collegiate careers. They, like the coaches at the Shrine Bowl, have been there to guide Wright in ways to win — ways like the double move.
The game of football is a chess match. It's about moving pawns to set up your knight to slide your rook to bring in your queen in for the kill. It's about having a plan and getting both practice and in-game experience at full speed.
In scouting, we tend to prioritize traits. We ask what a play can do and how they win. Do they win with quick feet? Speed? Size? Good hands? There are plenty of ways to win, and for each position, the need for certain skills can differ.
But receivers demand the total package: quick feet, speed, size, jumping ability and good hands. For Wright, he's certainly blessed with abilities in many categories, but to him the most important trait is something else, something that take time more than skill: patience. That's the key to a good route runner, and unlocking the devastating double move.
"A lot of times with anything that’s a double move you want to get out because you’re trying to get open fast and that will mess your route up,” he said. “You just gotta tell yourself, ‘Be patient and sell the route.’ Being patient early helps you win the route later on.”
Wright is setting himself to win later on, but he's doing plenty of winning right now, too.