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Old 10-20-2006, 09:17 AM   #1
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Default Harshest cut

By John Harris

TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, October 20, 2006


Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick missed Wednesday's practice to rest a sore right (non-throwing) shoulder, courtesy of a brutal late hit delivered by New York Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce that resulted in a personal foul.
Vick was sent sprawling out of bounds in front of the Falcons bench, setting off a chain reaction of hot tempers and a near melee.

Pierce told reporters he waylaid Vick as retribution for the controversial cut-blocking tactics of the Falcons offensive line.

Which brings us to the Steelers, who play the Falcons on Sunday afternoon at the Georgia Dome.


The Steelers fully understand Atlanta's questionable offensive line play gives new meaning to the, ahem, Dirty South.

"I don't agree with (the Falcons' cut blocking)," Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith said. "They don't let us hit at the quarterback and chop his knees, so why would they let them chop at our knees?"

Why ask why?

Cut blocking, though somewhat medieval, is perfectly legal according to the NFL rulebook.

"Just because it's legal don't make it right," Steelers outside linebacker Chad Brown said.

The cut block is a variation of the drive block. Atlanta's offensive linemen have been taught to cut block, or block low, to make defensive linemen and linebackers drop their hands to ward off blocks.

The beauty of the cut block is that it slows the pursuit of back-side tacklers. It also clears the running back's vision if the front side of the play is congested, and it helps create a running lane.

Atlanta leads the NFL in rushing after topping the league in that category a season ago. The Falcons currently average 232.0 rushing yards per game and could eclipse the

modern-era record of 220.6 rushing yards set by O.J. Simpson and the Buffalo Bills in 1973.

Falcons consultant Alex Gibbs, who was part of the Denver Broncos' back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams prior to joining the Falcons in 2004, is the architect of the cut block, considered the dirtiest legal play in football.

"I don't like it. It's part of football, but it doesn't have a place in the game," Steelers inside linebacker Larry Foote said. "It's a chicken way of blocking."

The danger of the cut block is the inherent potential for injury.

Last season, Carolina Panthers defensive ends Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker each suffered sprained ankles after being cut by Falcons' blockers.

Two years ago, Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Tony Williams suffered a broken ankle after being cut blocked by Broncos tackle George Foster.

"Coach Gibbs, who brought that blocking scheme from the Broncos to the Falcons, was in Denver when I was in the AFC West with Seattle. I played them twice a year," Brown said. "The first couple of times playing those guys can be a little unsettling. People flying around your legs. Our legs are how we make our living.

"Sometimes, if it's a choice between giving this guy one more yard or choosing personal safety, it's a tough choice to make. Once you understand the scheme, you can protect yourself better."

Atlanta's ground attack presents the biggest challenge this season for the Steelers seventh-ranked rushing defense.

The Steelers figure to bring at least eight players in the box and dare Vick, who's completing a mere 50.4 percent of his passes, to beat them with his arm.

"I think it's more mental than physical," Smith said. "They want to get you to play tentative. You can't let it change your gameplan."

Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton said cut blocking doesn't bother him.

"If they cut you, you have to keep them off your legs. Don't let them cut you," Hampton said. "You've got to stay low and use your hands."

Well, there you have it. Like it or not, dirty or not, if the Falcons linemen continue their cut blocking ways Sunday, the Steelers defenders must cut them down to size.
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Old 10-20-2006, 09:51 AM   #2
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Default Re: Harshest cut

If a Steeler is injured on a cut block look for some brutal payback on Sunday (all within the rules of course )
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Old 10-20-2006, 10:16 AM   #3
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Default Re: Harshest cut

This really shouldn't surprise anyone. Jim Mora Jr is there head coach and he's one of the shiftiest coaches in all of the NFL.
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Old 10-20-2006, 10:22 AM   #4
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Default Re: Harshest cut

I am no fan of Mora but blame for the cut block scheme goes to Alex Gibbs. Further evidence that Mora is over his head and in addition to not controlling his QB cannot ven control his offensive line play.
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Old 10-20-2006, 10:23 AM   #5
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Default Re: Harshest cut

I am an O-Line coach for High School and minor football. I refuse to teach the cut or chop block. I hate it. But if taught properly, it is effective. I can understand using it at the NFL level but I hate minor or high school coaches who teach it, and there are plenty of them. Just not me.
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Old 10-20-2006, 11:54 AM   #6
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Default Re: Harshest cut

Seems like a pu$$y way of playing IMHO.
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Old 10-20-2006, 12:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: Harshest cut

they can try to injure us but we are made of steel, i dont see them breaking steel....
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Old 10-20-2006, 12:40 PM   #8
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Default Re: Harshest cut

Everyteams oline cut blocks some just do it more than others.
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Old 10-20-2006, 12:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Harshest cut

Quote:
Originally Posted by klick81 View Post
Seems like a pu$$y way of playing IMHO.
It is - but all teams do it -- especially when they have a short quarterback -- If the Falcons didn't do this Vick would have a lot more of his passes knocked down...
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Old 10-20-2006, 04:30 PM   #10
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Default Re: Harshest cut

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlanta Dan View Post
I am no fan of Mora but blame for the cut block scheme goes to Alex Gibbs. Further evidence that Mora is over his head and in addition to not controlling his QB cannot ven control his offensive line play.
The final responsibility lies with the head coach. These methods are taught with his knowledge and implied consent.
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