Dual-Threat (for) Quarterbacks

Dangerous Defenders and Serious Questions are Chasing NFL Signal Callers Every Week

Plenty has been said over the years about the dangers, protection and injuries of mobile quarterbacks in the National Football League.

Now, as we watch Cleveland Browns signal caller Robert Griffin III head to injured reserve after fracturing a bone in his shoulder, I have to ask when that talk will actually turn into change in the NFL.

rfk-farewell
Players gather around a broken Joe Theismann in a 1985 “Monday Night Football” game.

If a quarterback played all 16 games for three seasons – the length of time Griffin has played in the NFL – he would have 48 games to his credit. Griffin played 38 games in his first three seasons with Washington, and he won’t manage any better this year in his first season with Cleveland. He couldn’t even make it out of Week 1 injury free, and it now feels like he’s one of the most broken men in professional football. He’s perpetually hurt.

I don’t think there’s any question that running-prone quarterbacks are in significantly more danger than pocket-passing-style QBs because they put themselves into an array of tackling situations. But I also think this topic is now more about the overall danger for quarterbacks.

Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers, NFL Week 1
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen checks on quarterback teammate Cam Newton during the team’s 2016 season opener against the Denver Broncos.

The evidence for the health plight of the quarterback goes back at least to Joe Theismann in 1985 and it continues today. Just ask the Panthers’ Cam Newton, who wasn’t exactly running all over the field to take the hits he experienced in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. Those hits erroneously lacked penalty flags on the field, and they were another example of the danger that lies on the field for all quarterbacks, not just runners.

I don’t exactly imagine an NFL where the quarterback wears a red “safe” jersey that means he can’t be touched. But in this age of pro football when every angle can be viewed and reviewed time and time again, when do we stop the Monday Morning Quarterback conversation about this issue and the admissions of error by the league AFTER the game is over? When do we find a solution to actually protect quarterbacks during the game and offer stiff penalties for defenders whose hits are – gasp! – just too violent for the game of football?

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