When your father is the NFL’s all time leading rusher and he happens to have won three Super Bowl games, the chances are that you are going to get some pretty good coaching from a man who not only knows his stuff but also has access to some pretty high-level training materials. Such is the case at the Emmitt Smith household, and one of the tools the Cowboys Hall of Fame runner uses is available to anyone who has a DVR.
Emmitt uses the tape of various runners in the game today to illustrate things he wants to see from his own son. His most recent example is how Ezekiel Elliott was able to bounce outside after finding no hole in the Minnesota Vikings defense and scamper for a 30-yard gain.
"It was a beautiful jump cut. It was beautiful. I used it as a tool to show my son -- most people don't even know what a jump cut is -- and illustrate what he did and how he got out into the open. It was a great teaching moment." - Emmitt Smith
Let’s take a look at the lesson that Smith was able to teach from the play.
The jump cut was the ‘thing of beauty’ that caught the eye, but as Smith stated not every back has a jump cut in his repertoire, maybe a side-step works better for some backs. It does not matter how he gets into the open lane. It matters that he gets there.
Getting, or rather finding, that open crease is the coaching point. Far too often a running back at any level will continue to plow ahead into the defender and perhaps gain another yard or two after contact. It is the great ones who turn those plays into 30-yard gains thanks to that mystic thing known as vision.
Does the runner look ahead with a wide angle view of what is in front of him, or does he focus dead ahead? Some backs look at the here and now. It happens at every level from Pop Warner to the professional ranks. Those who are most successful learn early on to see the field as a whole rather than just what is in front of them. They learn quickly not to get fixated on what’s next but on what may come to be.
There are those who say vision cannot be taught, but I beg to differ. Emmitt Smith knows that it is an acquired skill; he learned it and now is passing it along in his family. You have learned it, too. I am willing to bet that each of you use this same technique on a daily basis.
When you first learned to drive a car it was natural to focus right in front of you. As you gained experience it became easier and more natural to look ahead and anticipate what was taking place further down the road. By this stage in your life you have most likely became pretty good at anticipating traffic and maneuvering as necessary to get to your destination. It is mostly a subconscious effort at this stage in our lives.
Playing running back and developing vision is no different. It is a learned trait and that is where coaching comes in. Someone along the line taught you to ‘read’ the road ahead. That is what Emmitt Smith was teaching his son as they reviewed the film of Zeke’s big run.
Smith also gives the seal of approval to Zeke for the long-term.
"I see a guy who has vision, explosion, speed and quickness," Smith said. "I just see a guy that's poised to do great things in this league and has an offensive line that will give him an opportunity to do it.
"I'm loving what I'm seeing. I am inspired.”