Editors note: Dirty or clean play? That was a hot debate following Sunday’s controversial block on Giants rookie pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux by Cincinnati tight end Thaddeus Moss. The 33rd Team asked former NFL all-pro tackle Joe Thomas for his opinion.
To me, it looks like what Cincinnati Bengals tight end Thaddeus Moss was coached to do. That’s exactly what you do when you’re a tight end, and you’re being asked to go across the formation on one of these away blocks or these back blocks.
Almost all of the time you’re cutting the defensive end because, first of all, he can see you, so you’re at a disadvantage from the start. Secondly, you’re usually a smaller player than he is, and he’s a better defender against the block. In that situation, you’re almost always going to be taught to go low to cut the player to make him at least go around you, and to use his hands to defend himself.
You feel bad that Thibodeaux got injured in that situation. At the same time, that doesn’t mean the play was dirty, and it also doesn’t mean Moss did anything wrong. If anything, Thibodeaux should have done a better job using his hands to defend himself in that situation. He should have the awareness that when you have that tight end coming across the formation in those inside zone-type plays, he’s gonna go low and you need to be prepared for it.
Steep Learning Curve for Young Players
One of the reasons you see these young players getting injured a lot during the preseason and the first few years of their careers is because they have a lot of things they’re thinking about other than their technique, and other than how to defend themselves against the block. If you’ve got a lot of things on your mind, it just makes you half a second and a little bit of a click too slow to respond and to react to things.
In that situation, Thibodeaux tried to lower his inside shoulder to take on the block as if the player was going to block him high. When Moss was coming across the formation, he was going low the entire way. It wasn’t like he faked he was gonna block him up high and then went low on him, or vice versa. He telegraphed that the entire way.
Thibodeaux should have been able to realize he needed to defend himself with his hands and keep his feet away from him so he could try to shuffle down the line of scrimmage and maintain his gap.
The Final Word
My point has always been this: If the defense doesn’t like getting cut by the offensive players, then I think it’s reasonable to say that on defense, you can’t go low on the running back. So, if you’re a safety or cornerback and you’ve got a big running back like Nick Chubb coming at you, if you don’t think that it’s fair for (offensive linemen) to cut you up front, then you shouldn’t be able to go low on that running back and you should have to stand there and let him run a hole right through your chest, steamroll you and just continue on to the end zone.
That’s part of the game. It’s going low in tackling, it’s going low in blocking, especially when you’re faced up. That’s just part of football. Unfortunately, injuries do happen occasionally. But in this situation, it was all clean. You feel bad there’s an injury but there’s nothing really more to discuss with this block.