Feature courtesy of Brady Drake
MOORHEAD, Minn. (4/27/18)---The biggest talking point in the game of football the past few years has been helmet–to-helmet hit. Those hits are once again on the radar of professional football after the NFL passed a rule that expands past the jurisdiction of unnecessary roughness.
The new rule implemented by the league's competition committee on March 28, makes it a 15-yard penalty any time a player initiates contact with their helmet. Over the past couple of years, big helmet-to-helmet collisions in the NFL call have led to 15 yard penalties and a few ejections. The implementation of the new rule shows that concern over the link between Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE, and playing football is real and forcing the game to change.
When the game changes, teams must adapt. The Concordia football team has adapted and they are sharing their new-found tackling knowledge. The Cobbers are holding a coaches clinic on Saturday, Apr. 28 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in order to teach local coaches what they've learned. Concordia started to shift their tackling philosophy in 2016 when assistant coach Kyle Bakken, the team's defensive coordinator, adopted the "hawk roll tackle", a tackling technique designed to allow smaller players to more effectively tackle bigger players in the open field. The defensive coaches discovered the "hawk roll tackle" by watching a Seattle Seahawks instructional video on the technique.
This past year, the Cobbers decided to change again with the help of Atavus. Atavus is an analytics company that teaches a new age form of tackling for rugby and football teams.
"There was a point where we felt a little plateaued in how do we progress (our tackling technique)," Baaken said.
Just three years ago, Atavus worked solely work with Rugby players and teams, but decided to bring their philosophy to football as well after being approached by the Seattle Seahawks. According to Kevin Gordon, an instructor at Atavus,"it's about getting the guy to the ground as quickly as possible and being dominant when you can."
The company teaches what it believes to be a more forceful form of tackling. Instead of the head coming across on a tackle, the company teaches to hit the ball carrier with the shoulder that's on the same side as the plant foot. If done correctly, the head is out of the play.
"It started out trying to get the head out of the game," Baaken said. "We also wanted to become better tacklers."
The Seattle Seahawks as well as Division I college programs Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan State, Rutgers and the University of Washington have all used Atavus. In addition to their teaching technique, Atavus also breaks down film of every single snap from teams that use their services in order to provide a report grading the team and its players in 10 categories. Gordon will be at Concordia with other instructors to help teach the company's philosophy.
"Our philosophy is about creating contact and control with the shoulder," Gordon said. "We teach the best body mechanics on how to do that as well as the best tracking methods on how to get there."
For Atavus, concussion prevention is an added bonus, but not the reason behind their program.
"We believe that performing a better tackle will make you safer." Gordon said.
The Atavus tackling clinic will start at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and interested coaches and players can register in Barry Auditorium at Concordia College.