Eagles need to ramp up tackling drills in practice
It was 3rd and 1 with the Patriots inside the Eagles' red zone. The Pats handed the ball off to LaGarrette Blount, who was hit squarely by Mychal Kendricks just short of the first down marker. Kendricks bounced off, and Blount picked up the first down:
After the game, Kendricks admitted that his tackling was rusty. "That was really the first time we went live," said Kendricks. "It takes a while. I missed a tackle. I went in there like I was going to tag him off, so I'll get used to it."
Safety Kurt Coleman noted the Kendricks play as well, via Tim McManus of Birds 24/7:
"It's a totally different mindset," said Kurt Coleman. "We've gone wrap-up and it is what it is, it gives you good form but when you go live and it's a totally different beast. And you saw guys — I remember Mychal came down and smacked the running back [Blount] and kind of bounced off him, that's the kind of stuff you can't prepare for when you just thud it up."
The Patriots rattled off over 200 rushing yards in the first half alone last Friday in the Eagles' first preseason game. Several Eagles defenders missed tackles, as they did all season long in route to a 4-12 record. Jeff McLane had an unofficial count of 6 missed tackles in that first half.
The Eagles have not practiced tackling at all in 11-on-11 drills in training camp, and did one tackling drill on July 31st that couldn't have lasted more than 10 minutes:
The above tweet shows why coaches league-wide have moved away from tackling in practice, although Chip Kelly believes that tackling in individual drills is something that is somewhat less risky.
"We have tackled to the ground," said Kelly. "We did a live tackling drill, and we'll continue to do those live tackling drills. I think our guys are getting tackling in practice. We just don't do tackling in 11-on-11's, but we're still live tackling, so we'll continue to work on that stuff."
"We believe in tackling in practice when you do it in isolated drills. The biggest thing isn't the guy tackling. It's the pileup that occurs and it what's going to fall over them, but we do need to live tackle."
The premise of tackling in drills only is sound, but for a team that was so utterly woeful at tackling the previous season, they'll need more than 10 minutes of it to improve.