TeachTape Thursday Highlights Clinic Defensive Line Effort

By Will Cinelli on Dec 31, 2020

One of my favorite things as a coach, when watching film with my guys, was to point out these types of max-effort plays. Whether it was a game-saving tackle or an all-out effort to throw a block that leads to a TD, it was great to be able to point to that effort and show just how maximum effort pays off in the game.

Here’s Cardinals LB Dennis Gardeck busting his tail to make just such a play.

Gardeck starts up on the line as a pass rusher and falls victim to the screen play. It’s sold well by the Eagles’ OL, and Gardeck is in pure pass rush mode until he’s slung to the ground by the OG.

Credit Gardeck here for instantly recognizing what’s happening, getting back on his feet in a hurry, and putting his eyes on the receiver catching the screen pass.

Now he’s identified what’s happening and bursts into action. He sets a pursuit angle that gives him the best chance of getting to the receiver. A couple of slight hesitations by the wideout, as he weaves through traffic, gives Gardeck a chance to make a play.

He knows, of course, that he’s not going to catch the receiver in the open field. If Gardeck is to have any chance of making the stop, he’ll need to sell out to make the play. He dives at the last instant and makes the shoe string tackle.

It’s really hard to give maximum effort like this every down at any level of football. Also, giving max effort doesn’t mean you’re going to make the play. However, in this instance in particular, the only way Gardeck makes this play is by giving total effort and selling out like this.

I’d bet in the film session the next day, his position coach took a minute to give Gardeck a lot of credit for the way he made this play. 

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