The Lost Art Of Tackling

September 24th, 2016
Must improve tackling.

Talks tackling.

Earlier this week, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith discussed how his defense must improve and missed tackles have led to explosive plays.

This got Joe thinking. Smith’s good friend Pat Kirwan, co-host of “Movin’ the Chains,” heard exclusively on SiriusXM NFL Radio, often bemoans the demise of tackling in the NFL and blames limited padded practices as the main culprit. Kirwan suggests coaches cannot teach tackling without padded practices.

So Joe asked Smith, with Kirwan’s comment in mind, how the team can practice improving tackling, if at all. Smith, withdeference to Kirwan, strongly stated tackling can still be coached up despite limited padded practices.

“I think you can compensate,” Smith said.” You’ve got to work your technique – closing with the right angles. We gave up a 60-yard play on a two- or three-yard completion and we just have to make sure that we’re taking the right angles and the proper angles and not playing like we’re the only guy on the field. There’s a structure, that there’s a force defender that’s going to turn it back in to the pursuit defenders, and when the ball gets outside of your force defender, everybody’s chasing inside-out. So we’ve got to do a better job with our pursuit.

“I do believe this: tackling in the NFL has become one of the lost arts. It’s something that you don’t get an opportunity to do. We’re trying, we tackle, you guys have been out there and seen. Every day in practice, we have all of our groups working on tackling. It’s just that you can’t take the guys to the ground. It’s like you’re going out and practicing something that you’re really not going to do in the game.”

It makes Joe want to throw a cold beer at his TV in rage when guys don’t wrap up. Why? Are they so intent on blowing up a player in order to try to force a fumble? Not sure. But that’s lousy football and terrible fundamentals (and in sometimes leads to injury).

Smith is on to something. A coach can teach how to properly tackle and wrap up. It’s not necessary to have full padded practices.

You know how Joe learned how to tackle and wrap up in high school? Daily drills hitting a tackling dummy on a sled. Get low, wrap up, drive, twist. If it wasn’t done properly, the coach made you continue hitting the dummy until it was right. Daily.

Hopefully, Smith is doing the same thing and giving players a little incentive to wrap up: Tell them to pretend the tackling dummy is Kate Upton.

19 Responses to “The Lost Art Of Tackling”

  1. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    It makes Joe want to throw a cold beer at his TV in rage when guys don’t wrap up. Why? Are they so intent on blowing up a player in order to try to force a fumble? Not sure.

    I am pretty sure you answered your own question. As far as the angles and contain that Smitty described that is not effected by poor tackling although I certainly concede it’s the critical first step to makng a good tackle.

    In another life I once had the chance to cover a high school game on Friday night….small schools in the Appalachian mountains…University of Tennessee on Saturday and a NE-Pitt game on Sunday.

    The differences are dramatic and not just in size, speed, and skill set…but especially in technique.
    In high school the kids were doing what I would call tackling..whether on a football field or a cop chasing a wrap up and pull the guy down.

    On Saturday there was still some of this tackling but far more HITTING. Blow somebody up.

    On Sunday… very little “tackling” and tons of hitting! It was almost as if the defenders were not even concerned about down and distance or the game situation…they were simply there to blow somebody up and truly PUNISH them.

    In the NFL defenders are frequently as concerned with “sending a message” as worrying about any wrapping up or tackling fundamentals. They literally want to HURT SOMEBODY…knock them out of the game if possible but certainly create and element of fear and lots of pain.

    It’s just a different incredibly violent game. And that was 30 years ago!

  2. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    What is this junk I’m hearing that Winston is the second most disliked player in the NFL? Second to Kaepernick?

    Man, too many people judge without knowing the facts.

  3. iamkingsu Says:

    *Raises hand* maybe it’s because you don’t tackle in training camp?? All I read on here is them making solid contact and not allowed to bring the ball carrier to the ground.

  4. BigHogHaynes Says:

    Somebody better learn soon because the better teams in the league seem to be doing just fine! tackling that is.

  5. Mike Johnson Says:

    No pity for you Mr Defensive coordinator. Get her done sir. You are supposedly one of the major improvements with the Koetter regime. Ok so Lovie could not get it done? Buc Fans Scapegoated Lovie Smith and you will follow suit if you do not get the job done. All eyes on you to make this Defense work..make it better. I could less about the injuries or excuses. Next man up baby. If you and Koetter fail? We have a reel rod and tacklebox waitin for you alongside Schiano, Rah, and ole Lovie. Hell I been brainwashed by these fickle Buc fans too. You see..Buc fans and their local media don’t blame players here. They blame coaches. So be it. Batter up Mr. Smith.
    And Just–tus..for all!!

  6. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:


    Just curious, what schools did u attend in the Appalachian mountains?? I lived up there for a while and played my HS football at watauga high in Boone NC. Beatiful place to live, I miss it.

  7. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    I’m prepared to get off of the Koetter/Licht bandwagon if they can’t turn the team around. BigHog and MikeJ, are you guys going to get on board if they do? Just because you guys are still mad that Lovie was fired doesn’t mean that every new coach HAS to have a winning season in their first year. I was all for Lovie getting hired. I thought he was the best coach available, and he probably was. I thought it would lead to a Dungy-like revival. At 6-6, if he would have won at least one of those games I think he would still be here. I don’t know if Koetter is “the guy”, but I’m not going to judge him on just two games. I know you guys are passionate Buc fans like myself, but I’m not going to hope he fails just because I thought Lovie was the better choice. if Koetter/Licht fail, I’ll be on board for replacing them, but im not going to hate them just because we fired Lovie for them. Criticisms are fair, the predetermined hate is not.

  8. Joehelldeloxley Says:

    I agree with almost all the point in this article: who, not mentally insane, would love to takce Kate Upton ? I would love to do a lot of things to Kate Upton but tackling is not one of them.

    Instead put a pic of my high school math teacher and i’m quite sure I can rip the head out of the dummy !!!

    You just have to look at the last Patriots game to understand how some players are STRICTLY unable to tackle properly, between the one coming should in front, the one having just one arm around the opponent and so on it’s unbelievable to see

  9. Buccfan37 Says:

    After two seasons of Lovie I’m supposed to question the new coaching staff after two games. Ain’t gonna happen.

  10. Cobraboy Says:

    I disagree with Joe.

    Look around, even in college. Look at high school.

    Just like in basketball the fundamentals are NO LONGER TAUGHT!

    Tackling is one of the basic fundamentals. By the time you get to the NFL, if you haven’t perfected that skill it’s unlikely you will.

  11. Mike Johnson Says:

    BuccaneEric75..I’ve always been on board since I attended the Bucs 1st NFL game ever. I just don’t think like or say what..a lot of these Posters here want me to say. They want you to say. Go Bucs and we Coulda/Shoulda/Woulda..To hell with that BS! Win some GD games. I’m tired of changing coaches every 2 yr We blame coaches here, not players. Like a famous player once said, any scheme works got the players. I’m tired of the excuses..You know..tough schedule, injuries, missed coverages/tackeles. Win some GD games! Every yr I hear Joe and these fans say, we this, we have that..yet we lose over and over again. No hate here..Just truth. And the truth..often hurts. Besides I think guys like me and Bighog spice up this site. Joe’s smart. HE doesn’t want all amening deacons in a chorus line. Often times? Dissension
    is good. I’ll keep on voicing my opinions until Joe..Bans me. And if he does? That’s cool to. My life won’t end. I’ll still be a Bucs fan. way!

  12. The Buc Realist Says:

    Defensive Coordinator Coach Smitty is right on!!! For those who did not understand, its getting harder and harder to teach tackling in the offseason ( unless you keep breaking the rules like the seahawks) So this is an advantage to the older veteran teams that have had multiple seasons ( where live tackeling is becoming the only place allowed) !!!!!

    After 8 quarters of Football, it is a little soon to start passing judgments on teams and coaching staffs, unless you have a agenda, which much of the Tampa2 mafia does!!!! But fear not Buc fans, the minority of sheep hard heard and laughed at!!!! Enjoy the season as real coaching starts to take hold of our Bucs!!!! Watch as Accountability is finally applied to the roster!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!

  13. orlbucfan Says:

    Some of us are life-long fans of this sport because it’s a sport. It supposedly involves skill. That’s “skill” with a “s,” not “kill” without it. I agree 1000% with @stpetesbucsfan.


  14. Scott Ledger Says:

    The new CBA has slowed and it’s protection of players in preseason… maybe delayed is a better word, the skill set of tackling coming into every season. I see it all across the leauge in September. It usually gets cleaned up after 3/4 games.

  15. Joe Says:

    Instead put a pic of my high school math teacher and i’m quite sure I can rip the head out of the dummy !!!

    To this day Joe has an urge to punch a nun.

  16. Joe Says:


    Think you are on to something.

  17. stpetebucsfan Says:


    I grew up on the Ohio river right across from Cincinnati in N. Ky. I went to Highlands HS which won three state championships by the time I graduated in ’66. But our biggest claim to fame is more recent. Cris Collinsworth settled in Fort Thomas and his kids were all great athletes at Highlands.

    I know Boone well. For a dozen years in the 80’s early 90’s I was the Sports Director at WCYB (stood for We Can Your Beans..true lol) TV 5 the NBC affiliate in the Tri Cities.

    As you know that market is geographically very large. Boone was kind of stuck in the middle. Used to cover Appy State but only put scores up for Watuaga and schools in SE Ky like Letcher Co and Hazzard.

    Used to hit Beech Mountain every winter because Sepp Gemunder who ran the place then let me and the weather guy ski for free because we always gave him a plug on the air. Fun times….long ago.

  18. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    MikeJ, that’s what I’m saying. Don’t worry about the coaches, it’s the players that keep losing. Winning is 80% players and 20% coaching. Don’t worry that Lovie got fired and replaced by Koetter. It’s funny how all of the so called “great coaches have really good QBs. Teams with a bad QB and a great coach lose. Teams with a great QB and a bad coach win.

  19. Kevin Says:

    How bout the lost art of coverage smith!!???