It happens every season: football players fail to wrap up and actually finish a tackle.
Poor tackling in football is similar to today’s world of journalism — specifically digital media — typos are found between the lines of professionally written articles, blogs, and social media posts ALL THE TIME.
And unfortunately, correct form tackling seems to have become nearly extinct in both NFL and college football. In all honesty, I have to think long and hard to remember the last time I saw a solid fundamentally made tackle.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s easy to sit back and criticize when you’re just a fan. But, I did play two years of tackle football during my middle and high school years. I’m certainly not a pro, but the most important technique I learned from my coaches was how to tackle the right way.
Any one who’s ever played football can relate to this: if my teammates or I failed to tackle correctly, we payed the price. Whether it was laps around the field or ten push-ups, I was forced to put more effort into tackling both during practice and games.
Wide receivers will tell you the same thing. If you drop a ball, you owe your coach push-ups right there on the spot in front of the whole team.
My coaches went ballistic when they saw anyone try to tackle a guy up high on their body. Coaches would rather see guys show toughness by laying their bodies on the line to make a good tackle — even if they messed up — rather than cheat themselves with a sloppy effort.
True football fans know that the right way to tackle is to break down, get low, explode into the ball carrier, keep your feet moving, wrap up, and drive them backward into the ground. You don’t lower your head and go for the big hit with your shoulders like some of the pros are doing these days. Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s “beast mode” run of 2010 can surely attest to that reasoning.
Sure, it’s fun to watch an opposing player get jacked up. It feels even better if you’re the guy who made the big hit. But, that’s like making the argument that baseball and cycling are better with steroids because of guys like Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong.
What it all comes down to is, football is losing it’s fundamentals. Not a game goes by during football season where I don’t freak out at the T.V. after watching a player simply throw their body at the ball carrier, failing to bring them down. I wasn’t the biggest guy on the field, so if I couldn’t bring the ball carrier down alone, I would at least hit low and make an honest effort to hold onto him while my teammates could come in for the gang-tackle finish.
Three of the best form tacklers I’ve seen in the NFL within the last decade are: Denver Broncos corner back, Champ Bailey, Houston Texans inside linebacker Brian Cushing, and Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry. There are certainly more players out there who do it right, but unfortunately they’re just hard to find these days.
Like any other sport, football is constantly evolving. So, I can understand why the 1980’s style of play is very different compared to the way the game is played today. I just wish coaches and players would try to focus more on what the game was originally based on: Hard-nosed, tough, gritty, and fundamentally focused tackling.