Report: Tony Pollard injury could lead NFL to consider rule change
Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard’s playoff injury may prompt the NFL to evaluate one type of tackle this offseason.
The league’s competition committee plans to look at the “mechanics of the tackle” that led to Pollard’s broken leg in the Cowboys’ NFC Divisional loss to the San Francisco 49ers, according to Mark Maske and Des Bieler of the Washington Post. While legal under the NFL’s current rules, there are some concerns about the risks involved with the type of tackle 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward made on Pollard.
After Mahomes yesterday another textbook high ankle sprain mechanism for Tony Pollard. This one appears worse, additional concern for fracture. Hip drop tackle again too – not always a “dirty” play but a technique with high risk of injury to ball carrier pic.twitter.com/1Tl78OFkPo
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) January 23, 2023
The tackle is called a “hip drop” tackle, which involves the defensive player tackling a ballcarrier from the side or behind and dropping their hips while doing so. This means the tackler’s full body weight is involved in the play, and runs the risk of pinning the ballcarrier’s legs to the ground during the tackle.
A review does not necessarily mean the league will push for a rule change to address this sort of tackle. However, as the report notes, it does signal some level of concern about the play.
Pollard and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes both suffered leg injuries in similar ways during the divisional round, even though the hip drop was not really a factor in Mahomes’ case. It does make sense that the league might want to look into this for player safety reasons, even if actually penalizing them might prove controversial or difficult to enforce.