“Tackling Like a Bulldog”

If you believe this to be true…

The game of football has constantly evolved, both offensively and defensively, especially within the past 10-15 years. Despite this, one thing has never changed, the importance of sound, fundamental tackling. A good tackling team forces more third downs by stopping those quick screens on 2nd and 7. It can turn field goals into punts and touchdowns into field goals. It is very rare for a defense to be able to completely shut down an opposing offense, especially in the offensive-oriented game we see today. As such, it is those little differences that give a team a chance to win, and those differences are created through sound fundamentals.

… and wonder what Kirby Smart’s approach to teaching sound tackling technique is, you’ll definitely want to read this piece.

Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist but football is only two things – blocking and tackling”

This Vince Lombardi quote dates back to the earliest days of the game, but it isn’t any less true today. Even in the modern game where dangerous aerial attacks like the air raid and various forms of the spread offense look to attack all areas of the field with the quick passing game, bubble screens, and Run/Pass Options (RPOs), blocking and tackling still hold their importance to the game. The problem, though, is that with all of the new, exciting, modern-day concepts and strategies at the forefront, sometimes coaches can lose focus on the fundamentals that sit at the root of any good football team.

Kirby Smart, head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, is not one of these coaches. Coming from a defensive background, he has his own ideas and concepts to stand up against the latest and greatest offensive strategies, but, on an importance scale, he keeps sound, fundamental tackling right at the top of his list. What makes Smart’s approach interesting, however, is not just the importance he places on tackling within the Georgia program but the unique approach through which he teaches and practices it.

There some good illustrations of how what the players are taught is applied on the field.  Read it all.


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

5 responses to ““Tackling Like a Bulldog”

  1. There are two unappreciated things about the game that just gives me joy:
    1: A sound open field tackle (especially against an elusive ball carrier).
    2: Clear running lanes created by the o-line (and the backs that have the vision to follow them)

    Brings a tear to my eye those things….


  2. There are plenty of us who remember Kirby’s own tackling style, the same which I used back from little league to high school. The spirit was willing to form tackle, but the flesh was weak.


  3. That article was really good. I hope to remember the lessons from it during the season while watching the defense. Good tackling is absolutely the key to dealing with today’s spread offenses. Tackling in space is all about leverage. The Auburn games from 2014 (especially the 2nd half) and 2016 were beautiful examples of it.


  4. David K

    Good stuff. I love these types of articles. It’s interesting to me how at even the high school level tackling form is changing. Just 10 years ago everyone was still taught to form tackle by getting your facemask across the ball carrier’s chest and drive them back. Today’s defenders are taught open field rugby tackling made popular by the Seattle Seahawks where the tackler attacks the backside hip and drags the ball carrier down. Part safety reasons and also there’s so much more tackling in open space now due to spread offenses.


  5. JG Shellnutt

    This article is practically word for word from the “USA Football” coaches certification curriculum. You have to pass to be a certified football coach in certain leagues. A lot of the video for the course curriculum was recorded at the Seahawks place and at the Falcons place. It really is interesting how things change and are integrated at all levels so quickly.