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NFL sends Pete Carroll letter to fans about proper tackling technique

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

You may have already seen the coverage on the Seahawks' tackling technique that Pete Carroll and the NFL are trying to promote, but Carroll definitely now has the full backing of the NFL, officially.

The league sent an email to everyone on their mailing list this morning, containing a letter from Pete Carroll and a link to the video (embedded below):

Carroll's open letter reads:

Hey Football Fans -

Football season is quickly approaching and, like you, we couldn't be more excited. There truly is nothing like this time of year! It has been a full offseason for us, and within the last month, we were very pleased to release a 20-
minute film teaching our unique tackling system, one that emphasizes "taking the head out of the play."

Our defense has become known for toughness and physicality, and we're proud to share the ways we've done it in a safe manner. We are passionate about maintaining the physical part of football while emphasizing safer techniques that feature shoulder tackling. We want to play the game as tough as it is meant to be played, while also making it safer through a renewed emphasis on taking the head out of play.

Our players have totally owned this thought. They understand the game can be played at a championship level without using the head. We are seeing this change throughout football at all levels, advanced in part by USA Football and its Heads Up Football program, which the Seahawks and the NFL proudly endorse.

Our coaching staff put together a film to show our tackling system. Inspired in part by rugby techniques,  we've taught this system for the last four years with the Seahawks and since our days at USC. We found our "shoulder-tackling" style to be successful in the NFL and college and wanted to share it with you.

If you are a parent, we encourage you to make sure your child's coaches are teaching the proper fundamentals and are certified by USA Football. Check out usafootball.com/headsup to learn more.

Best wishes for a great season.
-Coach Carroll

Here's the video again, if you missed it the first time:

Carroll put the clinical video together for coaches, and it teaches and emphasizes a "rugby-style" shoulder tackling method. This is opposed to a more traditional method which has involved putting your facemask onto the football ("bite the ball") or into an opposing player's body (it's long been emphasized to keep your eyes up and never to use the crown of your head to tackle, but this is attempting to take the head completely out of the equation).

The overarching emphasis is to cut down on injuries, particularly head injuries, while still playing extremely tough, hard hitting football. Obviously, looking to minimize concussions or aim to take them out of the game altogether is an important topic for the long-term survival of the league.

From what I've read and heard on this subject, Carroll and the Seahawks' techniques are on the cutting edge with respect to the modern game. I don't coach football so I don't know how frequently or rarely these methods are used/taught, but it would seem that Carroll is well ahead of where the NFL wants to go.

As Chris Brown of Smart Football notes,

"Recently, the USA Football, with the support of the NFL, has begun putting out a series of videos and other materials about "Heads Up" or "safe tackling" - though the reality is there can never truly be such a thing - but the method they propose is not much different than what has traditionally been taught and the head is still front and center in the tackle. And it's not necessarily the easiest way to get a moving target to the ground, so defenders end up resorting to more haphazard methods just to get the tackle made."

However, as Carroll notes in the intro to the video:

"It's a system that we've been teaching and utilizing for the past four years with the Seahawks and since our days at USC. To break it down, our tackling system features shoulder tackling and a renewed emphasis to take the head out of tackling. We've found our style to be successful in the NFL and college, and we believe it can be employed on all levels."

The Legendary John Madden threw his support behind Carroll's campaign, telling Seahawks.com that "The video is excellent. We've been looking for something like that for a long time. One of the things the Commissioner is trying to do is take the head out of football when it comes to tackling, not using the head for contact.

"So we're working on that and the question was: OK, if we take the head out, what do we put in? And Pete came up with this video. It's not only good, it's great. When I first looked at it, it was beyond what I thought it could have been and it was as close to perfect as it could be.

"It gave the answer," Madden said. "OK, we take the head out and you put the shoulder and the arms and the techniques and the drills in. Everything Pete has there provides the answers that are perfect.

"It was great for him to do that, to give back. And I think it gives the answers that we need. If we're going to do some of these things the Commissioners has asked us to do, we need these answers."

Said Pete Carroll: "There's so much talk around the league and around the game of football right now, that I wanted to see if we could contribute to helping people understand how you could play this game and do it in a great fashion and continue to promote the game," said Carroll, who was assisted in the video project by defensive passing game coordinator Rocky Seto.

"This is a concept we've been working with for a long time and something that's built into our makeup. But we just thought it would be worth sharing, and really hoping that it works its way through high school football and youth football to teach kids at an early age how to tackle and how to take care of themselves and play this game really fast and hard in absolutely the safest way possible."

Carroll's coaching breaks down into sections, complete with supporting video.

Seahawks Tackling:

The Hawk Tackle:

"A shoulder leverage tackle, contacting the ball carrier on the thighs"

Coaching points:

Eyes through the thighs
Wrap and squeeze
Drive for 5 (when necessary)

The Hawk Roll Tackle:

"Shoulder leverage tackles at the thighs, that finish with the ball carrier being wrapped up at the thighs and rolled to the ground."

Coaching points:

Eyes through the thighs
Wrap and squeeze
Roll

The Profile Tackle:

"Shoulder leverage tackles that make contact with the near breastplate of the ballcarrier (near pec)"

Tackles made above the waists.

Coaching points:

Attack near pec
Wrap
Drive for 5