NFL plans active offseason conversation about eliminating “hip-drop” tackles

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers
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The tackles that injured Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Cowboys running back Tony Pollard during the playoffs were legal. But they may not be next season.

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said today that the techniques used on those tackles, in which the defender grabs the ball carrier from behind and then pulls him down while dropping the tackler’s own body to the ground, could be eliminated. That type of tackle, known in rugby as a “hip-drop tackle,” was banned by the National Rugby League in Australia because of the injuries it caused.

“I think it’ll be a very active offseason conversation, to look at the mechanism. Obviously the ‘hip-drop’ tackle is not the only cause of high ankle sprains. There are certainly other factors,” Sills said, via Mark Maske of the Washington Post.

The NFL’s competition committee is expected to look at new rules, and Sills and the league’s medical staff would be involved in those discussions as well.

“We have noted that type of tackle that you mentioned. And I think it needs to be a very active discussion point, again, with the competition committee and others this season,” Sills said.

If hip-drop tackles are eliminated, many fans will say the NFL is going too far in restricting how defensive players can take down a ball carrier from behind. Then again, many fans said that when the NFL eliminated horse-collar tackles, but defenders adjusted their techniques and player safety was improved. The same may prove true with a new rule this year.

81 responses to “NFL plans active offseason conversation about eliminating “hip-drop” tackles

  1. I get wanting to stop the horse-tackle collar and certain other things, but the way this league is trending defenders will soon have only a 2-inch x 2-inch window in which they will allowed to hit and tackle an opponent.
    Just bring out the flags already.

  2. The pro bowl flag football game is a test and pretty soon the regular season will be all flag football as well.

  3. OMG…How the heck are you supposed to tackle the guy from behind now? Sweep the leg Johnny

  4. Just another penalty for the Ref’s to miss, or use, when controlling the game.

  5. The Pro Bowl is just a flyer, soon the entire league will be flag football. No tackles, no physical touching. Offensive linemen will grab the D line and backers flag and the Defense will have to sit down right there as if they’d suffered a pancake block.

  6. They should name it the Calais Campbell rule. No need for the tackler to drop all his weight on the back of somebody’s legs. It’s an instant high ankle sprain.

  7. At this point why are they even fielding defenses on teams. Both of the tackles mentioned in this article were legal. Unless the league can prove that players are intentionally trying to injure another player this is dumb. Tackling 101 is wrap up and drag the runner to the ground. to get them to the ground sometimes you have to pull them down with yourself.

  8. Let’s make a trade. Eliminate the “hip-drop” tackles from the defense. However, QB’s can no longer scramble and/or run beyond the line of scrimmage.

    Getting tired of Defenses having to play playing with extreme limitations.

  9. Taking a cue from rugby, it makes me wonder what their concussion situation is given they don’t wear helmets or pads.If the NFL wants to avoid violent collisions then perhaps they should soften the outer shell of helmets and soften or eliminate pads.

  10. Ok… more offense then. At some point you will have to stop comparing past records with current records because it’s a totally different sport. Brady lead the league in TDs in 2002 with 28 and led the league again at 44 years old in 2021 with 43!

    It makes Marino’s single season TD record of 48 in 1984 look pretty special. I’ll also give credit to Peyton with 49 in 2004 and Brady with 50 in 2007 before the defenseless receiver rules were put in place in 2009.

  11. Of course. They need to ban hip-drop tackles because wonder-boy Mahomes got injured.

    How the heck are defenses going to tackle players. We already protect the QBs so much that they can run all over defenses. Now simply tackling runners fr9om behind will be a penalty.

  12. Why play defense or RB? Either get beat up or grow broke. How many extra yards did the QBs get in the recent playoffs out of the ‘should I hit him or is he going to slide’ situation? Even the Mahomes shove, in slow motion, he was just lifting his leg out of bounds. It’s a no call if not a QB. Saw plenty of those during every game I watched this year.
    If they’re going to keep changing the rules, the least they can do is make sure someone on an UDFA or practice squad call-up contract doesn’t lose his game check over an illegal tackle. Prorate the fines based on salary. Rich guy having a bad day could care less.
    If you look back at old film, runners high stepped to avoid guys taking a bad angle or last chance dive at the legs. Show guys the old films and teach it.

  13. Some of this comes from lack of practice. There is hardly any tackling in training camps anymore, very little in pre-season if they even play, and nothing during the season between games. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, players are fresher and healthier through the season; but tackling technique suffers. They have to get the runner on the ground some way, and the hip drop and previously the horse collar are a way to do it if your technique is flawed or rusty. Very little hit and wrap anymore. Mostly just hit as hard as you can and hope he goes down, or grasp and pull at anything if you are out of position

  14. Just another stupid rule designed to favor scrambling quarterbacks. And you say the NFL doesn’t have an agenda besides football?

  15. Every year, it’s the same thing. Something happens on 0.001% of plays and the rules committee makes it their mission to legislate it out of existence entirely only to cause it to be flagged 10x more than it should be because the refs don’t follow a “clear, obvious, and prolonged” framework for determining when to throw the flag.

    If a dude drops a DDT on someone…throw the flag. If it’s borderline…let it go so the players actually determine the outcome.

  16. Do they intend to regulate tackling out of the NFL all together? Some defenders were coached to use this method precisely to avoid injuries incurred by going for the head & neck, or for the legs. What’s next to be over-regulated?

  17. Will they enforce the rule if a QB ‘hip-drops’ a defender when the defender is running for a TD after a fumble or INT? Doubtful, but for everyone else, the ‘hip-drop’ will be outlawed.

  18. How many injuries happened this year from this tackle? All 650 (including preseason).

    Was it only two?

  19. I really hope this crap stops its bad enough already. Please quit trying to fix the game. All the players know what theyre signing up for. Nobody wants injuries but it happens.Might as well go ahead and make it 2 hand touch. That wont be any fun and theat will be the end of the NFL.

  20. Alright NFL – it was good for a while. Football will survive but I see the NFL folding in the next 25 years.

  21. Screw it, just eliminate the game all together. Might as well, before you know it it will be flag football. I thought this is Football, tackle football. They have a choice to play or not to participate in tackle football. This is getting out of hand. Play the game or stay home!

  22. So what do you do when you’re tackling someone from behind, just wrap around his waist and hope he doesn’t drag you down field with him?

  23. I am not worried about that rule don’t think it’s necessary to change. If you really want to fix the game then you call every hold by offensive lineman every time they do it and they will adjust. It’s so frustrating to see a big play against your team with OL a hand full of jersey and no call, it’s almost like if there is no physical jerk with the obligatory hands up in the air by the defender it doesn’t get call. Then when those calls are made it really seems so random and leads to character judgement of those refs and if they potentially could have been compromised and that is really a bad feeling especially with the latest seemingly open appreciation of gambling.

  24. Oh? Did Mahomes get a boo-boo playing tackle football?? We can’t just let that stand. It must be eliminated.

  25. They will continue to make the game softer and softer until people stop watching. They do not care about what the fans want or the integrity of the game. They only care about money.

  26. It’s such an unnecessary tackle. If you make it to the highest level of football and it’s a so-called brotherhood…lazy tackles like that need to go.

    The league will make it illegal to protect their financial interests. It’s still a business and it’s bad business to keep a style of tackling in the game that will hurt people. Period.

  27. Then get rid of the stiff arm to the head.

    Why do all the rule changes have to help the offense?

    Show the defense some love.

  28. When is the NFL going to come out with a rule change that benefits defenses ? Offense gets enough advantages already.

  29. I am all for player safety, but if you want this protection,the offense should have to give somehting up. How about the QB should not be protected once out of the pocket? That is not a safety of play protection. Its a gift to keep QBs from being tackled at all. My proposal is as soon as the QB becomes a runningn threat outside the pocket, all protection should cease and he should be tackled the same as any other player. If teams think that is too riskly, then have the QB stay in the tackle box.

  30. So much whining in here 😅

    When you catch up to the guy and wrap up your arms around him, as the drop tackle has you do, you’re simply asked to not go rag doll with your body.

    Actually tackle him, or hold on while your teammates help, there are numerous ways to continue the tackle other than the ragdoll method.

  31. That is such a dumb idea… Playing the game comes with risk; you can’t fully protect the players and still call it football.

  32. If they add that rule then they need to add another that if the player the ball is snapped to does not hand off or pass the ball, they are not allowed to cross the line of scrimmage.

  33. If this is implemented they should also eliminate the the slide for any QB past the line of scrimmage.

  34. You guys know this is all about the money. Go back and watch football in the seventies and eighties they hustled work their tails off and played hard. Now we have a bunch of overpaid players who are more worried about their money and getting hurt and the NFL knows that too.

  35. We are all complaining but none of us will stop watching – me included.

    1. The league wants to be international and I’m sure someway/somehow in the Olympics. To do that the game needs to be less physical to gain adoption of the game across the globe.

    2. The league wants its best/most marketable players on the field in the biggest light. To do that, make the game less physical and, call it scripted or rigged, put refs in a poistion where a bad/missed call tilts a game. Mahomes vs Hurts immediately got the “two black QB” tag. Don’t think that wasnt thought about before the AFC Championship – a lot of missed calls at the end.

  36. They talk about this tackle like it was in the scene from “The Last Boy Scout”.

    And as far as the injuries go, to quote Don Draper, “That’s what the money is for!”

  37. How about they change the rule so defensive players can’t hit the arm of the QB in their throwing motion, while you are at it with rules that make playing defense impossible.

  38. People just like to complain. Why get upset about a possible rule that will clearly reduce injuries? Could it help the offenses and lead to higher scores? Yes! But last time I checked, every team has an offense and a defense so it doesn’t give an advantage to one team over another. Plus, your team’s best and highest-paid players will have a better chance of actually playing in every game of the season. Where’s the downside in that, except to those that just hate change?

  39. Like many others, I’m slowly moving away from the NFL as the game continues to get more watered down, and as the owners find more ways to squeeze out more profits at the expense of the fans. I’ve gone from watching every minute I could, to watching hardly any games at all because of the barrage of ads (especially gambling). Now most of my NFL watching is done on Red Zone. But the NFL will probably find a way to ruin that too.

  40. I can’t believe some of these comments. The hip drop is a dangerous tackling method that *frequently* results in serious injury to the player being tackled. And it’s not just high ankle sprains (see Tony Pollard’s broken leg). Deebo Samuel was also taken out with a hip drop tackle this year and missed multiple games. The Australian rugby league (NRL) has been educating people about hip drops for awhile. They changed their rules and now penalize and even suspend players for using it. It would not be a frivolous move for the NFL to ban it, too. I really hope they do, because hip drop tackles are dangerous, and are being used to take out key offensive players in big games.

  41. This won’t go over well I guess. Of course I don’t want to see anyone hurt. But, geez, it’s NFL football. What athlete at that level has not broken a bone, torn a ligament, sprained an ankle 10 times, . . . ? What human activity does not involve varying risk and reward? Focus on head injuries, NFL. To me, football is Lambert, Huff, Butkus, Nitschke, . . . They were clean players, but they’d hit you.

  42. I don’t know why the moderators won’t post my comment. I’ve tried this like three times. Maybe the referees can also call offensive penalties like leading with helmet, which is RARELY called. Since the moderators won’t let me post the link, Google “Isiah Pacheco Escapes a Wave of Bengals Defenders”. Blatant offensive leading with helmet; so much so that he probably should have gone into concussion protocol.

  43. Rugby has some sensible rules and if they do something or ban something it should at least be examined.

  44. What choice do defenders have if the defender is trying to tackle the player from behind? Jump on his back and hope he can’t run to the endzone with the defender getting a free ride?

  45. Everyone says players know what they signing up for then after they retire and go broke they hire lawyers to sue the league so as the NFL is a business they trying to avoid being sued by lawyers

  46. By 2029 ALL NFL games will have team colored flags stuck on by Velcro…This is getting ridiculous. Horse collar tackles I get and the blind side blocks..But this is silly. Now u can’t tackle too hard, or a 280 lb man can’t land on a QB after tackling him ect..Get it over with and just put flags on QBs.. ridiculous.

  47. Adopt this rule, go aheda, but even it up some, adopt a rule requiring QB’s to stay inside their tackles on passing plays. Scrambles only allowed inside the box.

  48. The NFL is on the slippery slope where they’ve self-declared their sport to be too dangerous to play. I can’t come up with another sport that has so aggressively come down on itself in such a short span of time. It seems crazy but just 10 or 15 years ago we would have all laughed that something like this would even be considered.

  49. I love how the NFL never does anything to limit a defender’s method of tackling until a big-name player gets hurt. Just an average player was hurt? No problem. Wait, you mean HE suffered a minor injury? Outlaw the action!

  50. NFL is dreaming up new ways for the defender to think about protecting the ball carrier instead of the ball carrier protecting themselves.

    Maybe the runner should stop fighting for an inch when they know they are tackled.

  51. Ban tackling. Make it flag football. It will be a game of speed in the future. Size will be a detriment with tackling eliminated.

  52. If they’re concerned about injuries, get rid of the artificial turf and Thursday night games. If a team goes to the SB, they now play 21 games if they weren’t the #1 seed.

    If they get rid of this type of tackle, what choices do defenders have to tackle someone from behind?

  53. cbwv1974 says:
    February 3, 2023 at 1:10 pm
    OMG…How the heck are you supposed to tackle the guy from behind now? Sweep the leg Johnny


    But Sensei… !

  54. The real issue is LAWYER’S! The owners could care less about this other than the fact they may get sued if they don’t make another rule to dumb down the game. It’s only a matter of time before the NFL reaches the point of being destroyed by more rules. The game is already a shadow of what it was in the 70s and 80s. It is reaching the point of no return!

  55. Knew this was coming as soon as the NFL lost Dallas to a Tony Pollard ankle injury, but it makes sense. Eliminates the increased ability to purposefully take an opposing team member out by tackling like this.

    But if you can grab the hip, you can hold the legs and stop momentum just as easily. Not a big deal to eliminate this type of tackle.

  56. So in short, the tackle strike zone now effectively is above the hips and below the shoulders. With the understanding that the shoulders and hips themselves increase the change of a flag. Fans need to seriously start think about the improbability of making a tackle in the NFL today. Meanwhile, the NFL continues to make playing defense impossible and offenses can continue with pick plays making 3rd conversions almost a guarantee. Sigh

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