FNF Coaches Talk — When to Introduce Tackle Football, Sean McVay’s Super Bowl Screw-Up, Wisconsin’s Concussion Rates

Welcome back, Coaches. Here are today’s stories.

1. Columnist: It’s time to ban tackle football until high school (The Toledo Blade)

David Briggs of the Toledo Blade has a proposal, and we’re interested to hear what you think of this. Here’s his suggestion: Ban tackling until high school.

But this is not an issue of the left or right or the softening of America.
It’s common sense.
Consider: A team of Wake Forest doctors recently studied 25 youth players between the ages of 8 and 13, scanning their brains before and after the season. None suffered concussions. All reported changes in their scans associated with brain injuries, specifically small alterations to the tissues (white matter) that connect the neurons (gray matter).

We understand there will be some pushback on this, and Briggs accounts for that as well.

For those who counter that boys need to learn to play the game — including proper tackling technique — point taken. But Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Jim Brown, Anthony Munoz, and Lawrence Taylor didn’t play tackle football until high school, and it worked out OK for them.

At what age do you feel it’s appropriate to introduce tackle football to kids?

2. Sean McVay knows he screwed up in the Super Bowl (Yahoo! Sports)

Five months ago, Rams coach Sean McVay suffered one of the roughest offensive coaching performances of his career. For McVay, the “oh crap” moment last February was watching the New England Patriots morph parts of their defensive scheme into something that hadn’t consistently been on tape. Mixed defensive fronts. Scrambled pass coverages. Odd personnel groups. Basically, they were calling defensive plays that didn’t fit their identity in 2018.

All of which delivered McVay to his immediate regrets. Well, only one regret, really: the realization that when you face New England and Belichick in the Super Bowl, you don’t ask what will be on that test. Instead, you just read every last vowel in the available material. You create answers for the unlikeliest of questions. You plan for all contingencies. Because that’s exactly what Belichick counts on you not doing. That’s why he is who he is. And that’s why the Patriots have become the gold standard in Super Bowl history.

When you don’t put in that kind of work (and the Rams didn’t), you lose a Super Bowl 13-3 with one of the worst offensive performances of your career. Then you face visitors coming to your training camp with a familiar question …

When did you realize the mistakes you made preparing for the Patriots?
“During the game,” McVay said. “Right in the middle of it.”
And the lesson?
“If you expect to adapt and evolve, [remember] the teams that did have success against you,” McVay said. “Because you bet your ass you’re going to see that game plan again.”

When putting together a game plan, how important is it to prepare for the plays that worked against you the previous week? 

3. Wisconsin rule cuts high school football concussion rate by more than half (WKOW ABC 27)

Some good news on the player safety front …

A new study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found concussions suffered during high school football practice in Wisconsin decreased by 57 percent following a rule change by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) which limited the amount of full-contact in which players could participate.

The WIAA rules, implemented ahead of the 2014 season, prohibited full-contact practices during the first week of preseason and limited it to 75 minutes in the second week and 60 minutes per week thereafter.

Researchers compared the concussion rate of 2,000 high school football players in the two years before the rule change with that of over 900 players the season after the change.

The study found 86 football-related concussions per 1,000 practices before the rule change and only 15 per 1,000 after the change went into effect.

How have you found the restrictions on full-contact periods in practice have affected your team’s concussion numbers?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk!