Cincinnati Bengals LB Logan Wilson single-handedly injured three Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night purely through the manner in which he tackled them. Two could be considered hip-drop tackles, which the NFL seems to be on the path to eventually eliminating. They are perfectly legal at the moment, however, though it would help first if the league can define what a hip-drop tackle is.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh probably has a pretty good idea right about now. Supposed hip-drop tackles likely ended the season of TE Mark Andrews last night and injured QB Lamar Jackson’s ankle. While he appears to be relatively fine, he will be nursing that ankle for a bit.
“It was definitely hip-drop tackle. And it is being discussed”, Harbaugh said after the game when asked about the Andrews tackle earlier in the game. “It is a tough tackle. Was it even necessary in that situation? The other one on the sideline, you know, there are always plays you send into the league to have them look at and have them interpret for you”.
Harbaugh habitually sends plays into the league office for review. It’s possible that most or even all coaches or teams do this as well, but certainly nobody talks about it more than he does. It’s standard procedure for him, not necessarily looking for validation or compensation, but simply clarification.
The NFL has determined that hip-drop tackles, the gist of which you can gather through the clip above, lead to a disproportionate number of injuries, particularly to the foot and lower leg area for obvious reasons. Basically, you drop your hip when you’re tackling a ball carrier and your weight goes with it—down onto his lower half.
Needless to say, defenders are no fans of the proposal to ban hip-drop tackles. Pittsburgh Steelers DL Cam Heyward called the suggestion “so stupid” and questioned how defenders will ever get ball carriers down on the ground, accusing the league of “thinking too much”.
The NFLPA also came out against the proposal to ban the dangerous form of tackling, which, if removed, certainly would make it exceedingly difficult for trailing defenders to actually make a tackle or two.
Offensive players have been less outspoken about the issue, though I would imagine that their opinions are more mixed as the “victims”, so to speak. And it’s easy to have heightened emotions following a game like Thursday night’s in which multiple injuries occurred during the execution of such a tackle, including one very significant one.
Unfortunately, as I think I can speak on behalf of most football fans, I suspect that the NFL will successfully ban the hip-drop tackle at some point in time, perhaps in the near future. But I can only imagine there will be a steep learning curve. If it comes down to making a tackle to save a touchdown and avoiding a “hip-drop” tackle, I think most defenders would take the penalty.