Concussions and other harsh injuries are a growing concern in the NFL and that stems from poor tackling techniques.
More and more players are leading with their helmets rather than going for a safer, more reliable tackling form, but Atlanta Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn has seen enough.
Quinn reached out to former England rugby coach Stuart Lancaster to have him teach his players rugby tackling. Lancaster met with the Falcons for three days and taught them everything they needed to know about how to properly tackle.
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In the game of rugby, there aren’t any helmets or pads so leading with your head is a no-go. It’s very tempting for an NFL player to use his equipment to his advantage and try to lay out a devastating hit, but at the end of the day, it just isn’t very safe or effective.
“In rugby, you are coached on effective tackling technique from a very young age and I tried to pass on some of that to American Football as the two are similar in many ways,” Lancaster said. “There were lots of areas of good practice in American football, but also one or two areas that could be improved upon. The defensive coaches took on board some of the practices.”
Another area that Lancaster worked with the Falcons’ players on was stopping opponents from gaining extra yards after the initial contact. This has been an issue for the Falcons for quite some time so it was nice to see Quinn make it a point of emphasis.
“In a rugby game they are tackling constantly so we thought there was a lot to gain from Stuart,” Quinn said.
Has this changed the way these players tackle for good? Probably not. But, it’s a nice start.