TACKLING is becoming a lost art, in the one sport that actually rewards it. There have always been players who prefer shoulder hits to wrapping up, and so they miss tackles. All these recent rules designed to help prevent head injuries have not helped either, as they result in more and more defensive players grabbing to avoid penalties, or making “business decisions” trying to avoid getting hurt themselves. The biggest thing I think that has hurt tackling though, is this thing where defenders are holding up the ball-carrier, whilst trying to wrestle/rip/claw the ball away from him.
Look, I get it. Turnovers kill drives, pad stats, and make resumés look better for defensive players and defensive coaches come contract time. No one is suggesting that we should never chase turnovers, but there are moments when it’s more important to just put the man on the ground. Unfortunately, I get the idea that Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz would disagree with me on that.
We Eagles fans have witnessed far too many instances (usually early in games), where an opposing offensive player (not yet tired or beat up), fights for that last 1 to 3 yards and makes the first down, because we had one or two guys clawing at the ball instead of stopping the ball-carrier.
Early in games, you want to play sound football and end drives. Don’t help your opponent sustain drives. It only tires out your defense and keeps your own offense sitting down. Strip attempts work best against tired arms, against players suffering from dehydration, against players who are already taking extended breathers between downs, or against opponents who are fighting to make something happen when their team is down late in games. However, if you give the farm away early, you won’t really see many of these favorable opportunities set up for you.
Early in games just get ’em down. Stop looking for a knockout in the first quarter. Just play good solid football. Look for those strips later in games, when they become pivotal, harder to come back from, and most importantly, more likely to happen.