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Cory's Corner: Tackling cannot be stressed enough

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Cory's Corner: Tackling cannot be stressed enough

Tackling is one of the most fundamental aspects of football.

And in Thursday’s preseason opener, the Packers showed they have a lot of work to do. On the Eagles first drive, the Packers had five missed tackles — including one on a crucial third-and-2 and three that led to Philadelphia’s first touchdown.

Yes, I realize that was the first preseason game of the year, but this has been a recurring theme under coach Mike McCarthy. Last year, the Packers had 103 missed tackles, which paled in comparison to the 145 and 133 and missed tackles from 2014 and 2015.

The problem is too many guys are trying to be the hero. Highlight shows love the guy that can make the impactful hit. You don’t see many highlights of guys that wrap up an offensive player before getting help from teammates to take the player down.

Case in point is Kentrell Brice. He has had an impactful camp because of his energy and jarring hits. Yet, what stands out to me is the whiffed tackle early in the second quarter. Luckily that play only went for five yards, but continued missed tackles keep drives alive and will eventually lead to points.

The thing that was the most concerning was that Brice made a dive and was trying for that signature hit. Obviously if he does connect with tight end Trey Burton, Brice would’ve likely gotten some air time for an eyebrow-raising hit.

But this team doesn’t need hero ball. It was a game short of the Super Bowl last year. It has enough heroes from Aaron Rodgers to Mike Daniels to Jordy Nelson. It doesn’t need another one if it means that the opponent can gain extra yardage.

The Packers have one of the best offenses on paper. With Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, Aaron Rodgers will have plenty of people to look for. But, like always, the best defense for an efficient maestro like Rodgers is to simply keep him off the field.

And the easiest way to do that is by missed tackles. Those mean the sticks keep moving and more importantly, the clock continues to wind. The Packers appear to be poised to score about 31 points a game, but that’s going to be a lot tougher if they get the ball in limited chunks.

The defense has to stop playing like individuals and start playing like a unit. It doesn’t matter how many personal sacks, tackles for loss or passes defended a player racks up if the Packers cannot build on last year and advance to their sixth Super Bowl.

The defense doesn’t have to be great, it just cannot be terrible. And if the lack of tackling continues, more pressure will fall at the feet of Rodgers.

There’s a big difference between third-and-7 and third-and-2 and the latter is the result of a missed tackle on second down. 

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Fan friendly comments only: on Comments (34) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Nick Perry's picture

Tackling has always been an issue with the Packers hasn't it? McCarthy preaches about it every season. He preaches fundamentals which would have to include tackling too right? Yet here we are watching players tackling with their shoulders, trying to get that highlight hit instead of wrapping up. Burnett used to do it all the time, drove me absolutely nuts. Instead of wrapping up he'd lower the shoulder and bounce right off allowing the ball carrier to gain a few extra yards or a 1st down. Hopefully this is the year they LEARN doing your job leads to a better result than a Sports Center highlight hit.

Savage57's picture

The technique is as much of a reason a guy like Deone Bucannon can stand out as a hybrid safety/linebacker and other guys bounce off.

I've watched Bucannon and he's one of the few players in the NFL today who seem to remember his high school coach's teaching that the tackle doesn't end at the ball carrier, it ends at a spot 2 yards behind him.

RobinsonDavis's picture

Totally agree. Adding to the article and comments above, according to a couple of different sources, the Packers defense ranked 26th in gang tackles last year and 4th worst in yardage per play (Albeit the later stat has a lot to do with the big pass plays). Does anybody have a reliable source for missed tackles per team? This would be interesting.

I really liked the aggressive play of our defense though, especially the safeties. You just need to break down at some point to ensure the tackle.

Savage57's picture

Easy fix?

Every time a player makes a hit above the waist in preseason, he gets fined $100 and has to run laps for each infraction following film review.

Yeah, I know, in the context of what these guys make it's nothing, but it's the idea of being called out in front of the team for screwing up and a group's self-policing nature that comes from it.

There has to be some way to get these guys to lower their target area.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

The worst example of high targeting was Clay's blown sack. Ridiculous. He has the guy cornered dead to rights, and this crafty old veteran flies in high like a kid getting his first crack at a tackling dummy.

Embarrassing. Wentz tosses him off like a rag doll, then fires a TD.

Bearmeat's picture

....CM3 is no longer a blue chip player. Hell, he may no longer be a red chip player.

If we get a year of semi-healthy and "at least he doesn't suck" play out of him, I will be very very surprised. And very happy.

Bedrock's picture

Who really cares if Clay is "blue" or "red"? Sheesh. I'm sure the label is going to help him. Ugh.
Preseason game. Settle it way down.

Finwiz's picture

He's always done that. At times he's just out of control and not very focused.
That's such a rookie error.
Back when I was playing they always told us not to watch the ball carriers shoulders or eyes, look at his mid section and focus on that.
Worked for us back then, but OBVIOUSLY a different level.

dschwalm's picture

In my day, the tackling fell into the #3 priority for position coaches. However, I am not naive enough to think the reason they DON'T continue daily drills in tackling is because they should have learned these basic fundamentals before turning pro.

daveh's picture

Not only is the tackling bad, but again over the middle on third downs. Wide open and always good for a first down and giving big yardage..Go Pack..

Since '61's picture

Poor tackling has been as issue with this team for several years. To me it is a combination of less practices allowed by the CBA and a lack of focus by coaching on proper tackling form. If a defender consistently misses tackles he shouldn't play. Tackling is a basic element of football. Every player at every position should be able to make a basic tackle. Yes, some tackles will be broken but it should not be normal as it has become especially with the Packers. As a veteran CM3 should be setting an example, not letting a clear sack become a missed tackle. It's only the first preseason game but the pattern of poor tackling has appeared yet again. Thanks, Since '61

Turophile's picture

Tackling is tougher these days, with the players tackled being bigger stronger faster, and with modern techniques helping (eg more advanced computer use) . At the same time, unless you want to sacrifice a draft pick (like the Seahawks in the last draft), you must severely limit the contact stuff, making it more awkward to get the technique down pat for the tackler.

Tackling the rolling giant hoops in camp only goes so far. It should get better as the coaches get more tape on the young tacklers, and use it for teaching better technique. Nothing like a vid of you doing it wrong (in front of a whole room of people) to motivate you to get better.

Since '61's picture

Agree, except that in the case of the Packers the experienced players have been as bad as the young players. It seems to be a systemic problem rather than isolated to rookies. Also, shouldn't players know how to tackle after 4 years of High school and 4 years of college football for most of them. Thanks, Since '61

Finwiz's picture

I just don't think they teach the fundamentals, or else the kids don't pay attention and are too afraid to go low to make an ankle tackle, either because they are afraid of taking a knee to the temple, or it isn't "sexy" enough to just bring a guy down. They want to go for the high kill shot and look good on ESPN.

4thand1's picture

The Eagles TD had me saying, nice tackling you bums. How do you watch the game film and not throw up with that lame effort. King did improve a ton as the game went on. I was not impressed with Rollins at all. 1st game , cut em a break I guess. Spriggs at left tackle, better pick up a left handed QB.

nostradanus's picture

The form tackle has become a lost art in this day and age of highlight hits and the NFL players union doesn't want to have these guys hitting and tackling all that much in practice. The solution: all hats to the ball man, Gang Tackling! Some teams are adept at this and some are not, the Packers Defense under Capers always seems to play like a bunch of individual's instead of a group. The good Defense's fly to the football, the bad Defenses look around at the other players on their unit for somebody to blame. Which Defense do the Packers have, y'all can figure that one out. What was the biggest failure of Capers Defense last year? Pass rush? No Stopping the run? No, Turnovers? No. The answer is they couldn't get the third down stops when they needed to. Gang tackling man, play as a team fella's. Maybe i'm wrong, I hope so. I am however in total agreement with Cory, this Defense doesn't have to be great, average will do.

Go Pack!

croatpackfan's picture

I expected this "doom day" type of comments.

Cory wrote very good article and, yes, I agree that tackling need a lot of work and improvement.

But, people, think again! This was FIRST PRE SEASON game. All player's mistakes should pop out. This is why teams playing those pre season games. One of the reasons, the most important is player evaluation. Second one by importance is to slowly rise your team game speed up to the speed of NFL. Third one is to expose player's mistakes and try to correct them. I'm sure that you can find some other reasons, but, by my opinion those 3 are the most important.

Cory also point out: "The defense has to stop playing like individuals and start playing like a unit. It doesn’t matter how many personal sacks, tackles for loss or passes defended a player racks up if the Packers cannot build on last year and advance to their sixth Super Bowl."

That is the most important thing for tackling. If team plays as units and tackle as group, there will be less individual "highlits" sacks, tackles, hits, but the overall tackling will be much, much improved.

That is something I noticed Packers D slowly changing in that direction, if you start from 2011 up to today. I was always disapointed when I was watching Packers defenders tackling alone, one by one, and losing that battles. Other teams, teams with excellent D always tackles in groups.

nostradanus's picture

All of these guy's know how to tackle since they have been playing the game from the time they were little kids. They all know the fundamental's of tackling. I agree with 'Since 61' you don't tackle you sit the bench for awhile. Just like on Offense, you put the ball on the ground you sit, you make a boneheaded penalty on third down, you sit. Yes it's only pre-season but these young whipper-snappers have got to learn to do things the right way, the Packer way and that must be stressed by Big Mike and his entire staff. It's not that hard it's just accountability.

donnyanderson44's picture

What are the coaches teaching these guys. Hitting with the shoulder without results should get you benched. This ultimately falls on McCarthy but Capers is responsible for this. He wants his bunch to get that turnover and a well placed shoulder on the ball may do that, and he probably coaches that, but we got to stick more to the fundamentals. Wrapping your guy up is defense 101. We need to get back to that or it's deja' vu all over again for the defense.

Slim11's picture

King is a willing hitter. In his post-game interview, he did say it was faster at this level than in college. Not a big surprise, but he realizes he has work to do.

Like many others here, I was disappointed in the tackling by the starters including CM3. His skill set may be diminishing faster than anyone expected. I was a little surprised to see him put his hand down, inside no less, and still generate some pressure. I hope we see more of that.

Bedrock's picture

Let's keep in mind the percentage of plays we witnessed of non-starters. GB has always been a young team, and one of the areas it will show is tackling. You can only focus on so much before there is no focus. Let's take a look at what GB does well compared to other teams. Is there another team that grooms QB play better? How about WR? Joe Schmo Callahan gets cut repeatedly and MM works his magic. How about Michael "Dunkin'" Clark learning like he has?

Since '61's picture

Packers have re-signed LS Brett Goode. Either competition for D. Hart or the experiment with Hart is over. I'd be happy to see Goode win the job back. Thanks, Since '61

croatpackfan's picture

Did any of you watched Jags at Patriots? No?

Well, go, watch. Then come here to panic about bad tackling and no pass rush and no cover and giving big plays, and no run D and so on...

Bill Belichick will have much more job to do than Mike McCarthy!

flackcatcher's picture

Last week I was talking to a assistant coach for a AFC team.(His bother was in my command) Among the issues teams have to deal with, skills like tackling are degrading across the league. He was very clear on this point. Players are getting hurt because they don't understand how quick and fast this league is. There is no time to teach, or polish basic skills cause teams must use that time to put their team packages into place. With the compressed training camp, something has to give. Most coaches choose to not emphasize the basics, but they extremely unhappy over it. Cory is right, but the league choose this. Now, the costs are starting to add up.

croatpackfan's picture

I know. You are right. But Mike McCarthy is guilty one because of that? Or Dom Capers? That is what I'm reading on this site and similar sites I visit!

flackcatcher's picture

MM has to choose what to emphasize in the compressed TC. In reality, all the choices he has are bad ones. All he can do, is try to catch up during the season. It sucks, but that's what happens when players and owners don't think far enough ahead.

dschwalm's picture

As you say, Croat, 'everything is relative' and we have to keep the sloppy tackling in perspective......BUT, it's a recurring theme with these MM coached teams. HE should wear the collar

snowdog's picture

Whoa ... that was a close one . A very welcome back Brett Goode from a grateful Packer Nation

Mojo's picture

One of the keys to tackling reminds of a time a few years back when the 49ers had that great defense,

They were talented sure, but the thing I noticed most was how two or more players swarmed to the ball nearly every time, especially on the wide stuff.

We got a taste of it in last Thursdays preseason game when King held up the receiver and Martinez cleaned up and forced a fumble. There's truth in numbers.

al bundy's picture

I agree. if you watched the Pack pass rush, were sending dbs on the rush a lot leaving the remaining guys to play one on one. An ok plan when you have backs with size and cover speed. We dont.

al bundy's picture

Like many of you I watched several of the other pre season games and I did not see the missed tackles and sloppy tackles like the Packers are doing,
Seems like most dbs already know you wrap up the receiver and you tackle low not at the shoulders. Just the packers so far.

baldski's picture

I go back to the great Vince Lombardi who said: "Football is a game of blocking and tackling." He never let his team forget that.

cheesehead1's picture

Agree. Watched the game and the D reminded me of last season, receivers wide open and poor tackling. Only one game though. Hope McCarthy pushes them hard in practice.

mnklitzke's picture

Was nice to see King not afraid to lay down a great tackle. Yes missed some coverage stuff but his tackling was A++

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