Harrison Smith Provides Nuanced Take on Tackling

Another Stunning
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

With the offseason in full swing, rule changes have become a focal point heading into the 2024 season. The one causing the most uproar is outlawing the “hip-drop” tackle. Defensive players everywhere responded with frustration, but Minnesota Vikings veteran safety Harrison Smith had a more nuanced take.

Harrison Smith Provides Nuanced Take on Tackling

One of the joys of Twitter is the immediate ability to connect individuals. While athletes and celebrities aren’t required to respond or engage with anyone, they can choose to do so.

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When Harrison Smith was asked for his take on the new hip-drop tackle rule, he expanded beyond just simply adding fuel to an already full echo chamber.

Smith’s take is well-thought-out and relatively straightforward. The NFL’s goal has been and will continue to be to protect its product. Although defense is part of the game, and the sport is played with 11 players on each side of the ball, the offense is the true cash cow. Skill position players, the quarterback, running back, and pass catchers are what the league wants and needs to protect.

While Smith has built a career out of being among the best defenders in the league, he has also never been reckless. Despite owning the nickname Hitman, he has never followed in the footsteps of previous Minnesota safety Andrew Sendejo. Certainly, he’s earned his fair share of flags and fines, but he understands that the league is looking to protect all of its assets.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings-Press Conference
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After restructuring his deal to remain with the Vikings for yet another year, Smith will be tasked with eliminating this specific tackle from his game. The prominence of the problem for both Smith and others across the league remains to be seen, but the NFL has suggested that it would police the policy more by fines rather than penalties.

It’s understandable for the defensive side to mount frustration. Over the years, their jobs have only gotten harder, with points and scoring being enabled at every turn. This new rule seems to be subject to a good amount of subjectivity, and that will likely lead to a relatively high level of inconsistency when trying to police it. The NFL may need to address how it will tweak the process going forward.

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At the end of the day, alienating half of the league’s employees over rule changes shouldn’t continue. Making the sport safer and more enjoyable is an understandable venture, but to a certain extent, certain aspects of the game simply cannot be adjusted. Continuing to tweak tackling to the point of confusion would be among them.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.