RICHMOND—If you asked anyone who pays attention one thing the Redskins need to do to improve on defense from their subpar 2013 performance they would tell you that they need to tackle better. Even though Jay Gruden wasn’t here last year it didn’t take a whole lot of extended film study for him to figure out that missed tackles were a big issue for the team last year.
There is no live tackling in practice so the first chance Gruden had to see how the team is progressing when it comes to getting players to the ground was Thursday against the Patriots. He liked what he saw.
“I was happy with the tackling,” he said. “I was impressed, because I’m telling you, New England has four backs that are very good, maybe five. You know they weren’t playing their starters, but those four or five backs, they’ve been starting for a lot of teams and they’re very good. I think their line was out there for a little while. It was good to see us wrap up. It was good to see us gang tackling and flying around to the football.”
According to Pro Football Focus the Redskins were charged with six missed tackles on defense. Last year they averaged nine missed tackles per game.
There is more to proper tackling than just not missing the guy when you have him in your sights. Gruden mentioned the gang tackling above. Also, you have to get to the ball carrier first and taking the right angle is important as well.
“I felt good watching these guys. I’ll watch the tape, too,” he said. “I felt good about the pursuit angle. I felt good about the finishes on the tackles. I felt good about our secondary, but I’m sure there’s a lot of correctable things that we’ll notice on the tape, and that’s what it’s all about right now. The main thing we want to get out of there is we want to set our standards high as far as pursuit and tackling, and so far so good, but obviously we have a long way to go.”
It all looked pretty good and sounds pretty good here in early August. We will see if they really have made progress toward solving the tackling problem when they start playing for keeps on September 7.