NFL insider Peter King of NBC Sports believes the league will “move aggressively to erase the hip-drop tackle” this coming offseason after Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews suffered left fibula and ankle injuries this past Thursday night.
“I watched a video put out by the National Rugby League, which has banned the tackling technique in its league,” King explained in his latest “Football Morning in America” column. “The NFL has worked with the National Rugby League to identify and try to figure out how common the technique is, and whether it can be eliminated. The NRL identified three parts of the tackle—grab the ball carrier, rotate the ball carrier, and land with the body weight on the leg or ankle. All must be present to qualify as a hip-drop tackle. The NFL doesn’t think this is a common technique.”
It was reported last winter that the NFL would engage in “a very active offseason conversation” after Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes suffered lower-body injuries linked with hip-drop tackles. This past Friday, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor defended linebacker Logan Wilson after Wilson brought Andrews down using the technique during Thursday’s primetime game that Baltimore won 34-20. Also on Friday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network suggested the league could outlaw hip-drop tackles before next season.
“The NFL begins its serious deliberations on rules changes each February at the scouting combine,” King continued. “This winter, bring two defensive coordinators and two defensive players (including Wilson), plus two offensive coaches and two offensive players to the competition committee meetings in Indy. Show video of the offending hits. Hash it out. Have a thoughtful debate on whether it’s possible to legislate these tackles out of the game.”
The NFL has a noteworthy history of trying to protect offensive stars via the enforcement of penalties such as roughing the passer and horse-collar tackles, and it seems that knowledgeable reporters are essentially preparing defensive players for their on-the-field duties to become more difficult starting next September. As it pertains to Andrews, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley noted that Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh said on Monday there’s “an outside chance” the 28-year-old plays again this season.
Even if Andrews returns before Baltimore plays its final game of the ongoing campaign, his setback probably will be used to justify the league banning hip-drop tackles during the winter or spring.