The low hit Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph had on Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee has been the object of some controversy, even if it's mostly from Rams fans. And Vikings fans, since Joseph had a similar low hit on Minnesota tight end T.J. Hockenson back on Christmas Eve.
A couple of Joseph's teammates came out to defend him. The major bone I have to pick with all of that is Alex Anzalone's added comment suggesting Higbee's injury was some kind of message, and will be a deterrent to quarterbacks making a throw like that against the Lions in the future. It was a reckless comment, even as Lions' fans want to call it a generalization about plays like that.
One of the things I noted on the Higbee play is Joseph's tackling form.
Check it out below, again.
It's easy to think Joseph is putting himself at risk for a head or neck injury there, or worse a residual more significant injury as a result of that form.
Dan Campbell defends Kerby Joseph, notes tackling fundamental
On Wednesday, via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, head coach Dan Campbell came to the defense of his young safety.
"That's how we play football here; just keep your head up, see what you hit," Campbell said. "That will always be what I tell Kerby. Just keep your eyes up so you don't hit on the crown of your helmet. You (compress) your spine, you mess yourself up there. Just see what you hit. No, he's going for the thigh board and staying away from the head. That's how we play defense here — not dirty, it's just where we hit."
"See what you hit."
That's a tackling fundamental kids are taught starting in peewee football, and is reinforced after-all the way to the NFL. Even on the Hockenson hit, Joseph doesn't appear to be abiding by it. He does hit Hockenson a bit higher than he hit Higbee. But a sign he's "seeing what he hits", being able to see his facemask at the contact point, isn't there.
So all the controversy or defense of the hit on Higbee aside, Campbell (as a coach might) called out what was easy to see right away. Joseph is adding risk of a serious injury to himself if he maintains that particular form.