Can NFL tacklers realistically be expected to ignore their instincts when striking a vulnerable receiver?
Without a doubt, Tedy Bruschi insisted.
The ESPN analyst and former New England Patriots inside linebacker gave a tackling demonstration on the "SportsCenter" set. Bruschi, with football insider Chris Mortensen as his assistant, explained how defenders can adjust to whatever rules the NFL wants to emphasize regarding helmet-to-helmet hits.
"These defenders are world-class athletes," Bruschi said. "They can make a decision, pinpoint where they want to hit."
Bruschi noted the sweet spot for a defender has been just below the chin, and players would launch themselves there "because the rule hasn't been properly enforced."
Bruschi then asserted the mere threat of a suspension should be enough to get tacklers to switch their methods even with little time to think. The target now becomes the sternum, and the proper way to make contact is with the shoulder.
"Players are saying 'I couldn't control myself. That's just my instincts to launch just to get that big hit.' Don't believe them," Bruschi said. "They're skilled enough. They have enough athletic ability to say 'Listen, this is where I am, I need to make a decision now. I want to be there for my team. I'm turning and leading with my shoulder.' "