Intangibles, More Important than Most Think

San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon poses for a portrait during the NFLPA Rookie Premiere on Saturday, May 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, Calif. (AP Photo/Johnny Vy)

By: LaShawn Encarnacion (aka The Dark Knight of Sports)

When the word “intangibles” comes up in the world of sports, especially in the NFL, there are a number of things that are counted as intangibles. In basketball, it means that “killer instinct” or that “clutch gene” to excel beyond normal way of play. In baseball it is “swing consistency” or “unbelievable pitch location.” But for the purpose of this article, the focus will be on the NFL as a breakdown of the 1st preseason games gets underway.

If you watch the highlights carefully of Chargers rookie RB Melvin Gordon, you will see that his decisiveness and quickness to get into the hole that the line dictates, his burst of speed and confidence as he busts through the initial line of defense, these are a few “intangibles” that need to come from every professional running back.

In last night’s preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, Gordon had what is called as “Happy Feet” in his opening debut. He was stutter stepping and very hesitant in the backfield the entire time. Could it have been just nerves, maybe but that indecisiveness I have seen before from other running backs and those running backs do not usually end up staying healthy for long.

If you compare Gordon to the back up Branden Oliver or even a returning Danny Woodhead, you will see that there is something missing in Gordon that needs to be found and found before the third preseason game.

But why bring up the intangible word with Melvin Gordon. Well here is why.

Current Eagles backup quarterback Tim Tebow:

After a year off, Tebow is back in the NFL and while some believe he has improved, the bottom line with Tim Tebow was his inability to read defenses fully, the lack of ability to process the information and make the best choice in a pass play. Granted the ability to run for yards is what made Tim Tebow a first round selection, but in the NFL, the defense is much faster, stronger and looking to hit anything with a football. Having to be a pocket-passer is a must, hence why players like Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and others who think “run before dissection” will not last long in the NFL.

There are elements of the game of football you can practice, throwing efficiency, throwing mechanics, stiff-arms, knowing which hole is the intended hole for that particular play. But there are things you cannot practice, that come naturally or not. As mentioned before, the “killer instinct” or that “clutch gene” or in this case in the NFL and running backs, their instincts to trust themselves and their instincts without hesitation. That is what makes running backs like Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Eddie Lacy and the other top-tier running backs special. They trust their offense, yes, but more importantly, they trust themselves and what they see before the play begins.

It is just the first game of the preseason, let’s be clear. But for Melvin Gordon this should be considered a concern, especially for a good number of people who are considering him for their fantasy football drafts. Gordon as of now is slated as the primary running back and therefore is high on draft boards for fantasy football. There is now cause to pause on him because of last night’s performance and should be taken a bit more seriously as fantasy football drafts are getting underway.

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