Monday, August 13, 2007

A common complaint...

In recent years, I swear that one thing I hear announcers talk about when I watch football is how tackling is a lost art.

Players are more concerned with the kill-shot - the highlight reel shot that gets them their fifteen seconds of fame on ESPN. They drop their heads, lower their shoulders, and smack the crap out of the ball-carrier. Sometimes they knock the guy down, sometimes they don't. Either way, it almost always seems to make ESPN.

It seems like there's only a handful of teams left that have reputations as sound tacklers - where it tends to be unusual for a wide receiver or a running back to get extra yards after first contact, because the defender actually wraps the guy with the ball. During Friday's exhibition between Tampa Bay and New England, I saw Patriots corner Randall Gay make a text book tackle of one of the Buc's wide outs - helmet on hip, left arm around waist, right around leg. It was how coaches should be teaching kids on the Pop Warner level.

As for why you see less and less of this - well, it could be because players now are what "Concrete" Charlie Bednarick describes as, "pussycats." The last of the 60-minute men, the true two-way players, Bednarick put the emphasis on, "pussy," when he made that statement.

Or it could be because of the following, as reported today in Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback Column at Sports Illustrated -

Speaking of ESPN, a great note from Ed Werder before the Cowboys-Colts
preseason opener -- the first tackle Dallas made in the game would be their
first full-contact tackle of the summer, because Wade Phillips hadn't had the
team in any full-contact situations yet. Amazing in this day and age that
full-speed tackling is very rarely practiced in camps around the league. Even in
tradition-loving places like Pittsburgh (one practice), Buffalo (two practices)
and Chicago (two practices), I saw zero put-'em-on-the-ground tackling drills or
full-contact tackling.

It's a wonder that tackling isn't worse.


Dave said...

Was that the open-field tackle where he made two stops in a row? I noticed that as well. A lot of other corners would've tried to lauch their shoulder into the guy's head. Gay just did his job and did it well.

Kevin Smith said...

If I still coached football, I would show that as a tutorial on how to form tackle. It was a thing of beauty. Unfortunately it's not what makes the highlight reels.

Betcha the coaching staff noticed it tho.