Jump to content

Wrestling with MMA fighter helped Falcons' Paul Worrilow tackle issues


Recommended Posts

 

mcclure_vaughn_m.jpg&w=80&h=80&scale=cro

Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer

 

Paul Worrilow is far from ready to challenge Anderson Silva or Jon "Bones" Jones, but the Atlanta Falcons linebacker and its three-time leading tackler certainly has a better appreciation for mixed martial arts after experiencing it firsthand.

Worrilow has stepped on the mat a few times this offseason – 10 times, to be exact. It has nothing to do with a desire to switch professions or pick up a new hobby. This was about an NFL player realizing his tackling flaws and seeking ways to correct them.

So while driving around the Atlanta suburbs one afternoon, Worrilow dropped by Straight Blast Gym, tucked away in a small shopping center in the town of Buford, Ga.

"I just asked them if there was anyone who was willing to work with me," Worrilow said.

Lead instructor Phillipe Gentry raised his hand. The MMA and Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach catered a program to Worrilow’s desire to improve his tackling, meaning hourlong sessions twice a week in which Worrilow would absorb instruction from Gentry and spar with Jared Gooden, a local MMA fighter with a 5-0 professional record.

"I’d go in there and we’re working grappling and wrestling leverage," Worrilow said. "As close to tackling as you can get is wrestling and trying to take somebody down who doesn’t want to be taken down … just like football."

The sessions typically started with stretching and shadow-boxing as a warm-up. Then on went the gloves, as Worrilow and Gentry bounced around and threw light punches, the emphasis on footwork and hand speed. The real fun started when the gloves came off and the competitors hunched into a wrestling stance, flinging each other to the mat using various takedown techniques.

The wrestling aspect is the part Gentry incorporated into the workout specifically to address Worrilow’s desire to improve his tackling. However, Gentry opted not to be the 232-pound Worrilow’s sparring partner.

"I’m small at about 160-something pounds, so Paul would rag-doll me," Gentry said with a laugh. "My other guy [Gooden] is around 195.

"Paul’s an athlete, man. I’ve never seen somebody pick up the technique and integrate it immediately like Paul did. We’d introduce a technique and then we would isolate it – do drills around that technique – and then integrate it. In the integration stage when you start adding all these different moves, people usually can’t hit that in a live setting. And Paul would hit it. He was doing some beautiful techniques."

For example, Gentry taught Worrilow an arm-drag and single-leg takedown, which Worrilow mastered without issue. Such a move probably would draw a yellow flag on Sundays, but the concept is what translates to the football field.

"Finishing with the tackle, man, is about having a real strong wrap with the contact and the finish," Worrilow said. "That’s why I’ve wrestled all offseason. That was the whole purpose behind the sessions. When you’re falling to the ground and trying to pull to get a guy down, you’re not using your hips correctly and getting that leverage. That’s something I’ve been able to work on."

Worrilow has accumulated 365 tackles over the last three seasons, but he knows a tackle means less if it occurs 10 yards down the field or after missing the initial wrap. Too many times last season, Falcons coach Dan Quinn talked about the defense reaching double-digits in missed tackles.

Worrilow knows he had his share. He fully understands the criticism that comes with it, acknowledging that critics often wanted to "kick me in the face" due to missed tackles and coverage missteps.

Give Worrilow credit for trying to kick his bad habits.

"Nobody’s going to be more critical than yourself," he said. "A lot of times, criticism is justified. But nobody’s going to put more emphasis or focus on getting my game right than me.

"This offseason, tackling has been the biggest thing for me. I don’t think I've ever put so much emphasis on tackling in an offseason. I’m excited about it because that will help all aspects – coverage too. When you can really trust that you can come down on a checkdown in the open field and make the tackle, that helps your coverage. You can really trust that you can sit in your zone or really follow your keys. … Tackling is going to go a long way for me. And I can already feel the changes in my game."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 83
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Posted Images

He is the past years Kroy Biermann. We take a low round or UDFA and criticize every move that player makes, blow everything they do wrong out of proportion, then we let 1st and second round players who do absolutely nothing slide because "they are young". Good for you Worrilow. I love this guys attitude and he is a good player.

He doesn't cover well... Neither did Lofton. He still played close to a decade as a starter. He missed tackles last year and he is doing whatever it takes to fix it. Can't ask for much more than that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, krammmit said:

He is the past years Kroy Biermann. We take a low round or UDFA and criticize every move that player makes, blow everything they do wrong out of proportion, then we let 1st and second round players who do absolutely nothing slide because "they are young". Good for you Worrilow. I love this guys attitude and he is a good player.

He doesn't cover well... Neither did Lofton. He still played close to a decade as a starter. He missed tackles last year and he is doing whatever it takes to fix it. Can't ask for much more than that.

I agree- is he Luke Kuechly out there?! NO, but he has better stats than Dont'a Hightower who was a first round pick a year before PW (2012) for the almighty Pats. He went undrafted and is the same caliber player as a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Keep working PW! This may be the year he breaks out again! :slick:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, Shagpill 2.0 said:

I agree- is he Luke Kuechly out there?! NO, but he has better stats than Dont'a Hightower who was a first round pick a year before PW (2012) for the almighty Pats. He went undrafted and is the same caliber player as a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Keep working PW! This may be the year he breaks out again! :slick:

Yeah, if he gets beat out this year by a better player, congrats to the new guy. If he doesn't, great for Worrilow.

Superbowl teams are made with players like him. If he can start for 1 team in the league and he's our back up, that means we have quality depth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

37 minutes ago, Ezekiel 25:17 said:

Now we just need him to work with Usain Bolt to work on his Speed issue and he will be Great! 

Not for nothing but he ran a 4.58. Deion Jones ran a 4.59. He doesn't play like 4.58 but I don't think speed is his issue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 minutes ago, krammmit said:

Yeah, if he gets beat out this year by a better player, congrats to the new guy. If he doesn't, great for Worrilow.

Superbowl teams are made with players like him. If he can start for 1 team in the league and he's our back up, that means we have quality depth.

Exactly- If he gets beat out of the spot than it is what it is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 minutes ago, krammmit said:

Not for nothing but he ran a 4.58. Deion Jones ran a 4.59. He doesn't play like 4.58 but I don't think speed is his issue.

Speed isn't the issue going downhill. It's his sideline to sideline speed and his backing up speed that hurts him the most. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

57 minutes ago, krammmit said:

He is the past years Kroy Biermann. We take a low round or UDFA and criticize every move that player makes, blow everything they do wrong out of proportion, then we let 1st and second round players who do absolutely nothing slide because "they are young". Good for you Worrilow. I love this guys attitude and he is a good player.

He doesn't cover well... Neither did Lofton. He still played close to a decade as a starter. He missed tackles last year and he is doing whatever it takes to fix it. Can't ask for much more than that.

Lofton was exception at stopping the run,  Worrilow is exceptional at working hard, but does not have any above average characteristics that translate on the playing field. To his credit  Worrilow managed to parlay a small opportunity into a career, but a large part of it has to do with TD's inability amass talent which is why most of our ex-players like Kroy have a hard time finding work after being a key piece in Atlanta. 

FYI, this is nothing new, the Falcons did MMA training under Mike Smith even though most fans claimed he never developed anybody or did anything to address the teams short falls. 

 

http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/marvez-on-glazer-falcons-mma-training-041610

Edited by insight
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, insight said:

Lofton was exception at stopping the run,  Worrilow is exceptional at working hard, but does not have any above average characteristics that translate on the playing field. To his credit  Worrilow managed to parlay a small opportunity into a career, but a large part of it has to do with TD's inability amass talent which is why most of our ex-players like Kroy have a hard time finding work after being a key piece in Atlanta. 

FYI, this is nothing new, the Falcons did MMA training under Mike Smith even though most fans claimed he never developed anybody or did anything to address the teams short falls. 

 

http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/marvez-on-glazer-falcons-mma-training-041610

It's hard to argue against this cause in large part I do agree with you. I just don't think a player who is only 26 and averages over 120 tackles a year can be anything but a solid player. It doesn't matter if he catches them 10 yards down the field, which he admits happens too often, he is still the one who is getting the tackle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

47 minutes ago, krammmit said:

Not for nothing but he ran a 4.58. Deion Jones ran a 4.59. He doesn't play like 4.58 but I don't think speed is his issue.

If you're going to use Worrilow's Pro Day and not Jones' (4.38), you're kinda pushing a narrative...

Like Worrilow as a person, but as a player I think we should stop pretending he's anything more than a backup. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 minutes ago, Falcan Moore said:

If you're going to use Worrilow's Pro Day and not Jones' (4.38), you're kinda pushing a narrative...

Like Worrilow as a person, but as a player I think we should stop pretending he's anything more than a backup. 

I used Jones as an example because his numbers were fresh on my mind. 

As to Worrilow being a backup. What is wrong with that? We trash the guy constantly and if everyone agrees that he is only a starter because of the lack of talent, how is that in anyway his fault? He was the best player at MLB in 2013, 2014, and 2015. If we can upgrade it than that's great. If not, good on him to find ways to improve.

If you can't tell, I'm on the Worrilow bandwagon. Just as strongly as I was a Kroy supporter. I don't think anyone is comparing him to Ray Lewis. But he started for both Mike Smith and Dan Quinn. That has to say something.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...