Donnie Edwards: Taking on Blockers
One of the most important defensive football skills to learn is how to avoid offensive blockers. The National Football League's Donnie Edwards teaches how to best get past a blocker so you can make the tackle.
What I didn't know when I went to the league, which I wish I would have known in college and in high school, was how to take on blockers. Because I'm not very big. I'm 220, 225 depending, you know what I mean? But the bigger the guys, it's better for me because he's gonna be trying to lunge at me and I'm just gonna pop him and get off. And the key about getting off blocks as a linebacker is don't get tied up with them. Never ever, listen to me. Never ever use your shoulder on alignment or someone that's trying to block you, except a fullback. Seriously. Because you see, a lot of guys, especially a lot of DBs that don't understand how to take on blockers, they always come and they're like this with a shoulder. And that guy's gonna come, you come with a shoulder? Here, come with a shoulder. Guess what, you ain't going nowhere. And the key for defenders is making plays.
If you're tied up with blockers, you ain't gonna be on the field because you're not making plays. But what I leaned from my couch, Gunther Cunningham told me when I was a rookie, how to take on blockers. He talked about having face and hands. Face and hands. Guess what, well what the hell's that? Face and hands. It's really like face mask and hands. So it's almost like a combination of using like your two screws, right here in your helmet, and your hands, and popping and getting off. So when a guy's coming to block me...so, come to block me. I'm a linebacker, you're coming to block me. What I do, I hit my face mask and my hands at the same time to get that separation. Because then, when you get that separation, depending on where that ball carrier's going, boom, you can just get off and you make a play.
So, depending on which side the blocker's coming, what I try to do is like, if I'm coming from a linebacker position, and lineman's come off, the key is like, I have got this A-gap, so if I get cut off by this lineman coming off on me, and I get short here, and I can't get to my A-gap, all right, you're screwed. But the key is to get in your A-gap and get separation from that guard coming off on you. So when that guy's coming off on me, I try to step with the leg that I'm going, face and hands with your face mask, so you get that separation, that little pop's gonna knock him back and then use your hands to push off and then throw him and get to your gap and then guess what. All you gotta do is make the attack on a hole. It's really simple but I'm telling you, face and hands will really, really help you make a lot of plays.