The Art Of Tackling

April 26th, 2022

Michigan safety Dax Hill.

Yeah, the late-January loss to the Rams is seared in Joe’s hard drive. Aside from seeing the defense gouged by Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp, one element of the cornerback play was galling.

Their tackling was so poor that day. Joe is not saying it doomed the Bucs, but it sure as hell did not help.

Joe remembers John Madden said two teams’ games he enjoyed broadcasting in the late 1990s and early 2000s were the Bucs and the Steelers. Why? Because Madden said those teams tackled so well. He noted both defenses were run by old school coordinators, Monte Kiffin with the Bucs and Dick LeBeau with the Steelers.

When those two guys played, if you didn’t tackle or couldn’t tackle, you wouldn’t get on the field. That’s all there is to it.

So when Joe heard former NFL suit and coffee fetcher Michael Lombardi on VSiN talk about pass rushers in the draft, it was no surprise he dove into the lost art of tackling.

Joe believes this also can apply to corners.

“More important than ever, you have to tackle really well,” Lombardi said. “We don’t talk enough about this. You have got to be able to tackle and get the guy on the ground. And the only way you can really judge tackling is through tackles.”

Joe’s high school coach played for Tom Landry and John Madden and Gene Stallings, and he always emphasized gang-tackling. In fact, the high school coach frowned on solo tackles not because they were bad, but to him solo tackles meant the rest of the defense was not swarming to the ball and only one guy was hustling.

What Lombardi emphasized and what Madden spoke of is why Joe is so enamored with cornerback Andrew Booth of Clemson. And Joe is being won over by Michigan safety Dax Hill for the same reason. These guys tackle. These guys are not only unafraid of hitting, they love to dish out punishment.

Those are Joe’s kind of defensive backs.

31 Responses to “The Art Of Tackling”

  1. Leighroy Says:

    They’ll be doing plenty of tackling instead of defending passes in the air if they’re drafted in lieu of a DT or Pass rusher in the 1st round.

    What was the difference between Matt Stafford vs the Bucs in the playoffs ‘22 and Mahommes vs the Bucs in the Super Bowl? Was it DB tackling? I think not.

  2. 2022 Year of the GOAT RETURN Says:

    a good pass rush covers for a weak secondary…

  3. Buchead Says:

    What he ☝️ Said

  4. Brandon Says:

    Important stat for Jamel Dean haters/morons.

    Dean gave up 48.5% completions, 50.0 QB rating. 0 TDs and had 2 INTs. He’s one of the better CBs in the league.

  5. BucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Not excited about any corner , however if you want a player to get real excited about , that guy is Devin Lloyd from Utah-if you have not watched his film please refrain from touching the keyboard as Lloyd is a freakishly athletic and high football IQ linebacker that will be the ideal replacement for LVD. Lloyd has a nose for the ball and makes tackles in space with surety. Lloyd can cover extremely well and that trait in a LB is rare. By trading away some picks and moving up Bucs will also spend less on draft. Pats can be coerced into a trade as Bucs and Pats trade regularly. Bucs drafting Lloyd is a no brainer. Ed Ingram-the All-SEC guard will still be available in 3rd.

  6. Dean Giusti Says:

    This defense was so bad last season it was an absolute miracle we went 13-4 and almost got to the NFC Champ game again.

  7. Steven007 Says:

    There are two things I am sure of by now. Joe likes the same five players or so. I think we’ve seen capsule profiles on this small handful of guys about 15 times now. And 1976 loves him some Lloyd. Lot of cutting and pasting there 76. Convinced me to look at him a little bit. Nice player. Not sure I’m ready to walk down the aisle with him like you are. But certainly someone to look at at 27 depending on how the draft falls.

  8. adam from ny Says:

    lets get to the draft already…i’m getting bored at this juncture of the offseason…

    let’s go bucs!

  9. Kalind Says:

    A FIFTH safety Joe? So he can spot play a few snaps? No way Jose. We have wayyyyyyy bigger fish to fry. Pun absolutely intended.

  10. BucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Lloyd may be available at 21 , but never 27. Trading away some later picks to move up saves on cap. Ingram is a starter quality guard that will go in round 2 or 3. Ingram has a mean streak like Jensen. Jensen will teach him the bait and get the other guy to retaliate way to draw 15 yarders.

  11. Jordan Says:

    Agree with others that it’s hard to trust Tryon and Shaq for 17 games and playoffs.

    At same time, it’s also wishful thinking to think a rookie pass rusher is the answer. The difference in our Super Bowl run to last year was JPP and his shoulder injury. Most ideal scenario is we find a way to bring him back and reduce his snap count and hope he has one more year in him.

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    ‘Joe’s high school coach played for Tom Landry and John Madden and Gene Stallings, and he always emphasized gang-tackling’.

    THAT line all by itself was worth the price of admission Joe. Playing for a coach with that pedigree must’ve been awesome.

  13. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Tackling, draft picks……where the hell is my daily “Tom Brady miffed at BA article?”

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    BTW Joe, agree with your coach about the importance of gang-tackling. Our defenses of the late 1990’s & early 2000’s were great because everyone played so well together & ‘swarmed to the ball’. Current defense isn’t nearly as good at doing that IMO; maybe it’s because they don’t practice tackling so much IDK.

    Looking at 2021’s defensive recap, our 2 starting ILBs had the highest Combined Tackles Per Game (CTPG). White had 128 combined tackles in 17 games for a 7.53 CTPG, while LVD had 97 combined tackles in only 12 games for a 8.08 CTPG. Both pretty close as should probably be expected, since they’re smack dab in the middle of the defense.

    Our 2 starting Safeties were next though (last line of defense?). Winfield had 88 combined tackles in 13 games for a 6.77 CTPG, while Whitehead had 73 combined tackles in 14 games for a 5.21 CTPG. Seems like a significant difference, but I’m not sure why.

    Interestingly, Shaq came in next on the team with 51 combined tackles in 15 games for a 3.40 CTPG, but the rest of our OLBs were much lower than that. JPP had 31 combined tackles in 12 games (2.58 CTPG), while JTS had 29 combined tackles in 17 games (1.71 CTPG) and Nelson had 22 combined tackles in 17 games (1.29 CTPG).

    Our CBs were all clustered together next, followed by our DLine guys (no surprises there since opposing teams passed against us much more than they ran).

    o SMB: 43 combined tackles in 9 games (4.78 CTPG)
    o Davis: 39 combined tackles in 10 games (3.90 CTPG)
    o Dean: 44 combined tackles in 15 games (2.93 CTPG)
    o Cockrell: 43 combined tackles in 17 games (2.53 CTPG)
    o Desir: 28 combined tackles in 12 games (2.33 CTPG)
    o Delaney: 17 combined tackles in 15 games (1.13 CTPG)

    Since other teams pass against us so much, it seems obvious that our Secondary would be involved in more tackles than in earlier years (which favored more running?). Makes me wonder if that might be why our Secondary gets beaten up so bad and has had so many injuries.

  15. PSL Bob Says:

    Totally agree on the tackling. I got so frustrated last year when I saw CBs waiting for the ball carrier come to them rather than attacking the ball carrier. And when they whiffed, it was even more frustrating. I loved to watch the 2002 SB Bucs swarm to the ball. A ball carrier might elude one tackler, but they were immediately surrounded by others who would quickly get them on the ground.

    But Joe, I’m not sure a single player in the draft is going to resolve the tackling issue. It’s something that has to be emphasized during DB meetings and practiced during camp.

  16. Bob in valrico Says:

    Agree with Brandon that Dean is pretty good overall. he has had an occasional bad game a season but overall, with 44 solo tackles and 9 pass defenses he had
    a pretty good year. I put a little emphasis on the solo tackles because it a good measure if they can get the job done on their own. To my untrained eye corner play seemed better with Winfield or Evans were in the slot with SMB injured.
    SMB had a down year and its hard to identify a meaningful stat he had. With 845 YAC yards Cooper Kupp had his own version of Beast Mode and a lot more teams had difficulty tackling him. DR’s and Joe’s points about assisted tackling and swarming to the ball should be a lesson for the next time we meet.

  17. Bob in valrico Says:

    ^ little more emphasis on solo tackles.

  18. Don’t make a scene 35 Says:

    Amen Joe!
    Way too many missed tackles last year
    Some hard to watch
    Go Bucs

  19. Craig Says:

    Can we start this conversation with Devin White?

    He has no clue about taking an angle to a tackle and wrapping up. After him it goes downhill. How do you cover properly when you have one eye on the runner, because you will have to stop him too.

    DBs are part of a defensive whole, not hole. Then there were the injuries.

  20. Dooley Says:

    Joe’s enamored with a guy with a DNP designation at the combine & at Clemsons’ pro day. Booth wont be selected as high as he could, because he’s rehabbing

  21. GOB Says:

    Tackling is about coaching and effort. It’s also about repetition. It appears to me that tackling has devolved, due to the CBA changes regarding practice. These guys barley hit during the week anymore. It’s a systemic league wide problem, not just the bucs. one padded practice per week, is simply not enough.

  22. GOB Says:

    Craig, you couldn’t be more correct about white.

  23. sasquatch Says:

    I rarely 100% agree with Joe. This is one of those times. I don’t know what they do to drill tackling, but they need to do more of it… and draft guys who do it well. Man, I wish we had more picks this year. If we could find a way to maneuver to get Booth and Hill, trading away future picks if necessary, we could make our secondary a top 5 unit… but we still need D line. We have needs all over the defense.

  24. Joe Says:

    Joe’s enamored with a guy with a DNP designation at the combine & at Clemsons’ pro day.

    First, the combine is little more than a TV show. The real reason it exists is never shown on TV. Dudes running indoor track practice in shorts and a T-shirt. That’s not football.

    Second, a Pro Day is nothing different than the combine. Joe has been to Pro Days before. The only difference Joe can tell from the combine is that a coach can pull a guy aside and have him do individual drills for him. And there are no medicals at a Pro Day.

    What did Booth do in games? That’s all Joe is interested in.

  25. Joe Says:


    Joe agrees with your overall premise but not the specifics. Joe can only relate from personal experience in high school and obviously that’s a long way from the NFL (but Joe’s coach was a former NFL player with seriously good coaches).

    Ev-er-ee day we practiced tackling on sleds. Ev-er-ee day. From mid-July when two-a-days began through the end of November. Daily. The third thing we did in practice.

    That’s where Joe learned to tackle. Learned the footwork, the technique, how to bend your knees, where to place your feet, how to use your feet, your thighs, your shoulders, where to place your helmet (not in a guy’s gut). So when Joe got into a scrimmage, or in a game, Joe already knew what to do. How to tackle never crossed Joe’s mind.

    Then Joe hears Pat Kirwan constantly harping on there is not enough hitting in an NFL practice to learn how to tackle. What the hell are these guys doing in practice, playing grab@ss? How did they not learn to tackle in high school or even in college?

    Joe thinks Michael Lombardi hit the nail on the head when he basically said if a guy doesn’t tackle in college, why should you expect him to tackle in the NFL?

  26. GOB Says:

    Joe, if tackling isn’t practiced, the skill can be lost. I look at it like this, if a violin player doesn’t practice, his or her skills will erode. It doesn’t matter if the parents made the kid practice 8 hours a day in grammar school. Without consistent practice, you can’t expect a skill to remain innate. It isn’t like riding a bike.
    Another issue that hasn’t been addressed is college players emulating the poor technique they see in the pros. It’s a trickle down effect. A big hit that causes a fumble is sexier than wrapping a guy up.
    I never made a 53, my last year was 1993, when practice squads were limited to five players. I can’t use my experience for this argument, because we could still hit back then. I appreciate the post. It’s definitely a multi faceted problem.

  27. Dooley Says:

    It’s not just about working out Joe, it’s about availability and in this process having teams gauge the risk/reward with potential draftees. All you see is what he did in college, but that means nothing if scouts who’ve seen Booth play at Clemson are still downgrading his draft projection because he’s unavailable for the hands on portion of the draft process.

    “Now talking to more people around the league about his draft status, because of the double hernia surgery, they’re not sure he ends up going in the first round,” Mike Giardi said on NFL Network

    Can’t put that tackling ability to use if he’s on IR/PUP lists

  28. Bucsfan13 Says:

    When are we gonna start holding position coaches accountable? Are these coaches not working on improving tackling? Speaking of accountability, has Keith Armstrong been fired yet? I will continue to scream about how’s he’s been an absolute failure. Will any of the beat reporters have the balls to push Bowles on this issue? BA’s loyalty has also been a curse. He’s afraid to fire one of “his guys.” People like to harp on the ill timed blitz call, but i could argue that the special teams played a larger role in that Rams loss. Our offense had to make long drives against a great D because Harden had rolling skates for cleats. Also, our defense had to defend a short field against a high powered offense because our punter kicked two punts out of bounds. Oh, and our kicker missed a FG. The special teams coverage unit was also a disaster. The Rams had some good returns. Once again, putting our defense is non optimal situations. It wasn’t just the Rams game. We’ve had a near bottom ST since 2019.

  29. GOB Says:

    Bucsfan13, I agree. Ultimately the HC must delegate, and trust his coaches to address weaknesses. We know for a fact that BA wasn’t involved in coaching his coaches, he told us so. Hopefully bowles will be more involved. The field position game can make all the difference in a tight game

  30. 1#bucsfan Says:

    PREACHHHHH!! People don’t wanna hit these days the game is soft. Miss the days of lynch, Dawkins , n Milloy roaming the middle taking lives. How awesome was it to watch ray Lewis just eat someone. Watching football these days is like watching the pro bowl

  31. DEEEMO Says:

    A faster D-Line always makes the secondary better! Look at all the Super Bowl winners over the past 20 years…one thing in common….Great D-Lines who can rush the passer!