The four-minute drill in soccer is different from the two-minute drill. While the two-minute drill is a happy pass for the purpose of preserving the time left on the clock, the goal of the four-minute drill is to quickly use up the time left on the watch. The latter has a great need for a consistent running back to gain yards, while the former doesn’t need that position at all.
As a kid, defenders and running backs were staple positions on any soccer team. Now fullbacks are nearly extinct dinosaurs and running backs are on the decline as more teams rely on the complexities of the passing game. I believe that the depreciation of the broker has occurred for three reasons. First of all, offensive run blocking is not at the level it was in the past. The offensive lineman cannot open holes or simply routinely loses his blocking assignments. Second, most runners are selected on the basis of straight line speed, 40-yard dash. Coaches are forgetting that a back has to be strong and changeable enough to get to where that speed can be used in a straight line. Most straight line sprinting runners stop in the backfield if there isn’t a hole open for them or run east and west for 20 yards with maybe a yard or two of gain to show their effort. Lastly, the prevalence of ankle biting or ankle tackling has limited backs at very short distances. About 75% of short distances, gains of 2 yards or less, appear to be due to the dominance of ankle biting at or around the line of scrimmage.
Coaches are becoming reluctant to use runners in short-distance situations at the third down. Short-yard plays on the third down from 2-3 yards are almost routinely passing plays, about 75 percent. Although historical NFL data shows that runs on this downhill and distance are more successful than passing, coaches go against the historical evidence and rely on the pass. Coaches, in general, are wary of their runners in these situations.
For runners to return to prominence on the soccer field, they must train differently. The backs must acquire some training in martial arts. Martial arts training teaches the student how to beat an opponent quickly and decisively. It would teach running backs how to win against a bigger defensive lineman if an offensive lineman did not meet their assignment, it would teach running backs to rely more on instability and elusiveness rather than straight line speed, and it would teach them to runners develop extreme explosiveness in their legs. that would minimize their chances of being knocked down by ankle biting.
If running backs could regain the trust of their coaches in short yard situations, their usefulness in the NFL and at all levels of soccer would improve. Having to use a pass in the four-minute drill has lost quite a few games in recent years. A coach’s desperation to get a game to seal on the first try in a short-yardage situation when passing the ball has opened many doors for two-minute exercise wizards like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson to move the ball. ball across the field and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Well-trained runners will send a message to coaches that Chicken, the passing game, came in second and will remain second on third down and in the four-minute drill if runners are trained to perform more efficiently.