Out of Bounds for Quarterbacks...
A few years back while watching film, I often saw our quarterback take unnecessary hits near the sideline. It was nondescript plays, with no stakes involved, and here he was getting tackled awkwardly on the sideline. After a closer inspection of numerous games, I’ve realized it is a play that occurs quite often. What is an attempt to gain a few extra mid-field yards is actually a roll of the dice in the physical game of football. Taking shots near the sideline when there is nothing at stake is not a productive idea.
As a player I was willing to sell out at any moment on the field, but at a certain point, it turns into reckless behavior with one’s body. The fact is, taking unnecessary hits near the sideline achieves little and too many high school quarterbacks are doing it. My main issue with this maneuver is that it is not just one or two occurrences a season. From the film I watched, it was three to six times in a single game. To do some short math on a ten game season, we are looking at an additional 30-60 unnecessary hits absorbed by the human body.
Unpacking this further, it should be stated that I classify “near the sideline” as 1-2 yards from the out-of-bounds line. That distance gives a player ample opportunity to step out without taking an unnecessary hit. Now, I understand the philosophy of trying to truck someone; however, I am recommending to be smart about it: Is it near the goal line? Does a first down depend on it? Is it a guy you don’t like? To me, these are all valid reasons to lower the shoulder and attempt to impose your will upon a defender. However, trying to run someone over to make it 2nd down and seven on the 42 yard line makes little sense.
Additionally, tackles near the sideline tend to be the most awkward for all parties involved. With tacklers using the sideline as leverage, in addition to the teams and coaches watching nearby, next to the chain crew holding down markers, and not to mention the benches and physical objects. There are far too many variables to calculate in a formula where the answer is either 2nd down and 8, or 2nd down and 7. So be smart. Get out of bounds when there is nothing on the line and live to fight another day. It’s not worth it.