• Ask the Pros: The return team wedge

    Have heard and read about "the wedge" on kick returns and how violent the impacts are,enough that 3 man wedges were banned.Found a graph that describes the wedge but really want your take on it.
    One player described it as "running into a garage door at 50 miles an hour".Was it right to ban the formation? And do teams still do it by masking it better or standing just far enough apart so that its not considered a wedge? -Colts01



    Turk: I've never been a special teams coach but I think the new rule is a good rule. I've seen many wedge busters get stingers and even knocked out. It looked more like running @50 mph into 3 moving dump trucks (garage doors aren't moving). Most teams oblige by the rules, I'm sure some fudge a little. In the past the wedge blockers would hold hands so that they wouldn't separate too early and now you see the 3rd guy in close proximity.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: the return team wedge started by Colts01 View original post

    Comments 25 Comments
    1. BuckeyeRidley's Avatar
      Nice Colts!! Gettin' Front Page Props! Sweeet!!

      I thought the Wedge was a Good strategy & worked well when used. However, I now consider concussions & other safety of the game with the thought of using such a formation for the play. I'm glad that it's out & not able to endanger folks. It won't take away from the game nor leave something to be desired.

      Love The Turk Talk!! WOOOOOOOOOOO!!
    1. DannyMilk's Avatar
      woooooo!!!!!!
    1. msclemons's Avatar
      Those are sweet diagrams Colts. Nice job.
    1. hassan812's Avatar
      nice find Colts
    1. Colts01's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by DannyMilk View Post
      woooooo!!!!!!
      I suspect Hester ran behind a few of those wedges in 06'-07 Danny!
    1. DannyMilk's Avatar
      haha...he did...the thing that amazed me the most about Hester was his cuts...he'd stop on a dime, turn, and be gone in under 3 seconds...it was insane...yeah, I never knew this about the wedge to be honest. Great work!
    1. MattBer2c's Avatar
      Thanks for the heads up. Very informative. As for my feelings on the wedge? I think it's a good rule to protect the lesser known players, which is very important. I'm for it.
    1. Dave Lapham's Avatar
      I was a blocker in the wedge my first three years in the NFL and experienced some of the most violent collisions in my career doing that job. You retreat to the return man wait for him to yell go and from a standstill position take on cover guys running full tilt trying to take your head off. In the interest of player safety and limit concussions, I like the rule. I also like the rule keeping contact above the waist in these encounters. I saw many a blown out knee in the wedge of blockers and cover guys taking each other out low. The contact is similar to a car accident...unfortunately I have experienced both. During a Monday Night Football game in Miami I had a helmet to helmet collision with Ed Newman that knocked a contact lens out of my eye. I thought I got hit so hard I was knocked cock-eyed. Those collisions were like no other. I am in favor of any rule that minimizes the risk of serious head injuies.
    1. Colts01's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave Lapham View Post
      I was a blocker in the wedge my first three years in the NFL and experienced some of the most violent collisions in my career doing that job. You retreat to the return man wait for him to yell go and from a standstill position take on cover guys running full tilt trying to take your head off. In the interest of player safety and limit concussions, I like the rule. I also like the rule keeping contact above the waist in these encounters. I saw many a blown out knee in the wedge of blockers and cover guys taking each other out low. The contact is similar to a car accident...unfortunately I have experienced both. During a Monday Night Football game in Miami I had a helmet to helmet collision with Ed Newman that knocked a contact lens out of my eye. I thought I got hit so hard I was knocked cock-eyed. Those collisions were like no other. I am in favor of any rule that minimizes the risk of serious head injuies.
      Wow great info Dave thanks,It sounds like the wedge blockers were the first ones to "storm the beach",very informative
    1. GoBigOrGoHome's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave Lapham View Post
      I am in favor of any rule that minimizes the risk of serious head injuies.
      The NFL needs to do even more in this area. They are being proactive. But not proactive enough.

      As far as I'm concerned, they should put impact sensors in each helmet which should be checked by an independent entity after massive collisions on the field. If the sensor says that the player sustained an impact to the head that might lead to a concussion, the player sits the rest of the game. Follow that up by making the player pass a doctor's exam and tests (MRI/CT) before he can put his pads back on.
    1. thephaze's Avatar
      I work for a High School football team and
      I know how many players get injured during kick-offs.

      Kickoff is when the most violent collisions happen.

      Having seen some of those collisions first hand I know why the
      NFL is taking steps to prevent injuries from happening.
    1. ReaderM's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Colts01 View Post
      I suspect Hester ran behind a few of those wedges in 06'-07 Danny!
      I think one thing that tends to get overlooked was just how good those Bears Special teams those years were even excluding Hester. Hester was a Huge Part of that but I just remember looking at some of the lanes and openings his blockers were giving him and just amazed at it.
    1. RSConn5's Avatar
      I remember how bad it was to break up wedges in high school! Can't imagine what its like to do it against some of these huge guys running as fast as they do.
    1. Hitman21's Avatar
      Nice Job Colts01 I really enjoyed this and Look at you Grabbing Front page LOL BIG TIMIN....
    1. Cris Collinsworth's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave Lapham View Post
      I was a blocker in the wedge my first three years in the NFL and experienced some of the most violent collisions in my career doing that job. You retreat to the return man wait for him to yell go and from a standstill position take on cover guys running full tilt trying to take your head off. In the interest of player safety and limit concussions, I like the rule. I also like the rule keeping contact above the waist in these encounters. I saw many a blown out knee in the wedge of blockers and cover guys taking each other out low. The contact is similar to a car accident...unfortunately I have experienced both. During a Monday Night Football game in Miami I had a helmet to helmet collision with Ed Newman that knocked a contact lens out of my eye. I thought I got hit so hard I was knocked cock-eyed. Those collisions were like no other. I am in favor of any rule that minimizes the risk of serious head injuies.
      I never understood why the NFL didn't make all wedges illegal. Why leave the 2 man wedge in the game? If a 3 and 4 man wedge is too dangerous, why is a two man wedge better? As a former kick-off and punt return man in HS and college, all the wedge did was bring everybody to one central location for really big collisions. I would have preferred one-on-one blocks and open field.
    1. BuckeyeRidley's Avatar
      Wedge blocking was always something that seemed to be a momentum shifter & not a usual scheme.

      Never saw Colts, Pats, Eagles or Packers doing wedge breaking to be more competitive in the game. Good to see that there was emphasis to get rid of it given how violent it can be.
    1. BayouBoys's Avatar
      This is a great rule. I won't lie though, being the "head hunter" who busted this up was great fun. At the time because I already have some screws loose. Now I'm sure I knocked a few more loose! haha. Great rule.
    1. FessJL0861's Avatar
      I got my first 2 of 5 concussions on special teams. Great fun. OK, that may make me sound a bit nutty, but yeah I like the idea of putting a few more restrictions on the wedge. Competition is one thing, but walking off the field alive is something completely different. Plus these guys are going at a whole different speed than I was, it is scary fast. I certainly don't want to see anyone get hurt long term just for football.
    1. FootballFan's Avatar
      Wedge busting. Great topic. I'm not sure of the origin of the formation, but I think it's pretty logical that it's something that was just brought along during the years as the game transitioned. (that being the wedge)

      I loved it.

      Bad injuries occur when players are undisciplined, reckless, and not schooled well in fundamentals of contact. You tuck your chin when you're running full speed into somebody and your asking for neck injury like that poor guy in Buffalo recently. Bill Parcells calls it "block tackling" - and says he's seen more injuries in the game from this than from anything else that players do on the field. There's a reason the facemask was created, and it wasn't to keep people from poking people in the eye, it's so you can keep your head up and your body positioned well when you get into contact. On the other hand - if you're going low to take out the legs full speed - and your going to potentially end another guys career- well, there's not many guys that are crazy and willing enough to do that and put the target on their own back.

      There are and have been plenty of good wedge busters, but I think the best right now is Deon Anderson with the Cowboys - and of course I'm biased because I'm a cowboys fan. This guy earned his way onto the team because he's a human bowling ball and then eventually became the starting fullback. In college, I saw this guy take out all FOUR guys in the wedge by himself against West Virginia by essentially throwing himself sideways into them and knocking them down like bowling pins on the opening kickoff of a second half and then get up out of it and make the tackle on Pacman Jones - and came out of the pile with Pacman's helmet. (apparently Pacman had spit on a teammate just prior to the half)....

      as for the new rule - I agree w/ cris - the two man wedge is just dumb. If you're not going to do it - then you should spread the field and let the players go at it. the only problem with that - is that you're going to leave guys like Deon Anderson...1 on 1.
    1. FootballFan's Avatar
      I think purposeful leading with head to head contact when blocking for, or busting up a wedge - whichever side you happen to be on - if done purposely - is just plain stupid and quite dangerous. I"m sure there are some out there - that are looking to make head shots, and probably some coaches too that even teach it. If so - then the opposition coaches and players better be aware of it and look out for it.

      I also think that the actual head shots on these type of plays are not just dangerous, but actually pretty rare. It's just not that easy to do. When somebody gets really hurt (neck/shoulder/nerve injury) - it's almost always because that person tucked their chin and took a body part to the crown of the helmet.

      The concussions - that's from the violence of collisions, and more likely the rebound effect after impact as your brain is bounced around in your skull instead of direct impact. Just my opinion.

      My prediction - is that the number of really bad neck/shoulder type injuries will decrease with the rule change (but they were actually pretty infrequent already) and that the number of concussions on kickoffs will increase with more guys running around full speed and more chance of high speed collisions. (reminds me of the discussion of WR's going across the middle)