Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tackling 3

I've admitted to not being a great football player.  I never was involved in open-field tackling because I wasn't fast enough to get to an open field location at the same time as a ball carrier.  One exception - I was playing defensive left tackle and the offensive blocker missed me completely.  Looking back I'm sure it was a trap where someone else missed his assignment.  In a trap, their right tackle "misses" me.  And their left guard pulls back from his block, runs to his right along the line.  As I charge unhindered into the backfield, the pulled guard blindsides me.  But the guard never made it and suddenly I was all alone with the quarterback who was rolling to his right.  He was as surprised as I was.

Now, I'm old enough that I no longer have to perpetuate the lie - to all who observed from the stands, I hit the quarterback and knocked the ball loose and we recovered and went on to score and win the game.  That is a lie.  In fact, in the open field with just me and the quarterback, I lost my balance.  Flailing to avoid falling I barely touched him.  But startled by my presence he had lost his composure and fumbled all on his own.  It looked like I jarred the ball loose but he just dropped it.

I want to do a player profile on Bridgette.  She is one of the strongest
and most reliable tacklers on the team.  I have many photos of
her getting a sure hold on the runner and bringing her down.
I admire people who can do what I've tried and can't do - that makes a large field of people for me to admire.  I admire people who can open field tackle.

Open field tackling is difficult.  This post is recognition of some good open field tacklers.  To me, "open field" means the runner has space around her.  She's quick, shifty, and should have the advantage over the tackler.  Someday maybe I'll post some photos of missed open field tackles but I don't want to embarrass any of my friends on the Outlaws. 

When the tackler is bigger than the runner, like Bridgette Brown is bigger than the runner in the above photo, the tackler is at a decided disadvantage.  But Bridgette Brown is strong and quick and a great tackler.  She makes it look easy.  It isn't.

In these two shots, Shadana is cut off by a much
bigger defender.  The defender doesn't need
to bring Shadana down, just force her out of bounds.
When the "open field" is on the defense side of the line of scrimmage, when the runner has eluded the first line of defense and is scooting down the sideline, the challenge is first catching her.  I admire defensive backs because they have to catch speedy running backs.  Having caught up with the runner, the next trick is to get her down.  Or sometimes, out.  If the runner is along the sideline, the defender can win by nudging her out of bounds. 

Than can be elegant, as when the Dallas player catches Shadana (#82) and uses a decided weight advantage to push her out of bounds to the left.

Just a nudge was all it took to send the runner out of bounds.
Or it may be inelegant but still effective.  When the runner nearly escapes but the defender makes just enough contact to throw her off balance and send her out of bounds. 

 Rreally tough is having a fast runner with the end zone in sight and one obstacle keeping her from scoring and that is a lone defensive back. 

The back first has to pick the angle.  The runner is going straight up the field and back has to head her off.  Then the back has to deal with any dekes the runner might attempt, any faking right or left to throw the tackler off line and off stride.  Once these little problems are solved and running full speed, the tackler has to get a hold of the runner and hang on and drag her down. 

It looks easy.  It isn't.

The telephoto lens distorts perspective a little.  This shot has the defender closing on the runner.
In fact she isn't as close as she appears.  And the play started with her having a lot of ground to make up.
Running full speed she jumps on the ball carrier's back and drags her down. 

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