September 9, 2015 - Seattle was already an epicenter for rugby-inspired tackling methods. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll champions the cause with his “Hawk Tackle” video, and Washington coaches, after experimenting with some rugby drills in the past, adopted them wholly last year, too.
For Rex Norris, the art of tackling goes beyond the act of burying a ball carrier to the ground. As the new director of football for the Seattle-based rugby consulting firm Atavus, Norris is using data-driven results to turn the tackle into what he believes is a more efficient — and safer — method of playing defense.
With the proliferation of hurry-up spread offenses at all levels of football, defenses are stretched to cover more of the field and strained to do so more often. Norris is hoping the “tackle plans” Atavus is helping to create — notably with Washington and Ohio State, the company’s first college-football partners — will spread.
“The defense has very little time to think about what just happened because the offense is lining up right way,” Norris said. “You need to have that ability to bounce back and have a tackle plan. We’re seeing that. We’re seeing these athletes get better and better.
“The data,” he added, “is telling us it’s working.”
Whereas football’s old-school mentality celebrated knockout-style hits, the rugby-inspired methods introduce methodical and mindful techniques that attempt to take the head out of the tackle.Full Story