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Cardinals Adding Mobile Tackling Dummies

Posted Apr 4, 2017

Bruce Arians hopes new technology will help technique

Cardinals defensive tackle Josh Mauro tackles Jets running back Matt Forte last season.

Corey Peters envisions the scenario and shudders.

The Cardinals defensive tackle does his work in the trenches, and he’s thankful for that, because he knows the defensive backs behind him have a much different job responsibility.

Life isn’t easy in space.

“I wouldn’t want to be in wide open field with some of the backs in this league, a David Johnson,” Peters said. “That’s a tough task. But it’s something you’ve got to do.”

Myriad issues contributed to the Cardinals’ 7-8-1 record a season ago, and there is one, in particular, coach Bruce Arians is proactively trying to correct: missed tackles. A defense can scheme a play perfectly and trap a player with the ball, but a missed tackle can change everything.

To help combat that, Arians said the Cardinals will employ mobile tackling dummies during the spring. The moving object makes it more akin to game conditions and allows the players to practice their form for when they face off with those shifty skill players.

“I think that’s a great new invention to help the game to teach how to tackle at all levels,” Arians said. “They’re probably too expensive for junior highs but that’s a great new invention.”

Peters said he has watched video of the remote-controlled dummies but has never seen one live. He likes the idea of adding them to the fold.

“It makes sense,” Peters said. “To me, it’s amazing how far the technology has come with that sort of thing. I think that’s always a great thing, because we’re not going to spend a great deal amount of time tackling each other. Being able to get some full speed reps with some live action, will, I think, be beneficial. Especially for things like special teams.”

Arians calls tackling “a lost art” because players are more interested in spearing with their head instead of wrapping up properly. The dummies could help put the focus back on the fundamentals.

“When I was taught to play football, you never used your head,” Arians said. “You used your shoulders and I think through the 70s and 80s, we got that big ESPN primetime hit that you put on television and that took off.”

With Johnson’s preternatural ability, he should have no problem forcing multiple missed tackles again next season. The same can be said for the skill players the Cardinals face. In Week 3 last season, for instance, outside linebacker Chandler Jones faced off with Bills running back LeSean McCoy in space and didn’t have much of a chance.

But it’s the plays where the skill player is cornered when tackling becomes paramount. Miami’s Jarvis Landry seemed to be bottled up between safeties Tyvon Branch and Tony Jefferson in Week 13 last season, but broke away for a 71-yard gain. Those are the back-breakers, and the ones that must be fixed in 2017.

“As far as tackling is concerned, I think that’s something where everybody has to do a little extra on their own,” Peters said. “Practice good habits, even when you’re not tackling, breaking down on the ball, and doing all those different things. At this level, I think the onus kind of falls on the player to stay sharp in that area.”

The collective bargaining agreement forbids contact during the offseason, so the Cardinals are searching for a way to stay sharp. The mobile dummies should give them that opportunity.

“We’ve used the donuts that came out last year,” Arians said. “They really helped guys putting their head on the side but it’s not the same as going to the ground, taking something to the ground, and getting your body accustomed to going to the ground without using your head.”

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