The NFL’s emphasis on tackling with the shoulders, instead of the head, isn’t just about player safety. According to the coach of the best defense in football, it’s also the most effective way to bring a ball carrier down.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has released an instructional video showing the way his coaching staff teaches tackling.
“Our tackling system features shoulder tackling and a renewed emphasis on taking the head out of tackling. We’ve found our style to be successful in the NFL and in college, and we believe it can be employed at all levels,” Carroll said.
Carroll pointed to rugby — in which players don’t wear helmets — as the sport with the best tackling techniques.
“We have found that we can practice and drill our tackling without pads or a helmet,” Carroll said. “This system of tackling was recently inspired by those who play rugby around the world. Rugby players have truly taken the head out of the game and truly exemplify shoulder tackling.”
If the techniques used in rugby are safer than the techniques in football, that raises a question: Did all of the additional equipment given to football players through the years, supposedly for player safety, actually make the American style of football less safe than it would be if, like rugby, it had eschewed protective equipment through the years?
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell probably isn’t going to propose doing away with the helmet any time soon, but he does like what Carroll is preaching.
“Coach Carroll sent me the video and I thought it was terrific,” Goodell said. “It’s a great thing for our game to have the head coach of the Super Bowl champs teaching tackling techniques that protect the head and making it available to everyone. I hope players, coaches and parents at all levels of the game take the time to watch it.”
Carroll says in the video that “We are a shoulder-tackling team.” Goodell wants the NFL to have 32 shoulder-tackling teams.