NFL Looking into Possible New Rules to Protect QBs
Despite the fact that NFL quarterbacks are better protected now than they ever have been, that hasn't stopped some of the league's top signal-callers from landing on the injured list. With that in mind, the NFL is considering taking further steps to ensure that its passers remain healthy moving forward.
Quarterbacks are already at a significant advantage in comparison to other positions since defenders have a very small strike zone at which to aim when hitting, but NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino admitted that the league may look into making life even more difficult for defenders than it already is.
"Should he always get protection from low hits or head hits, regardless of the posture he's presenting?" Blandino said in a telephone interview. "Part of the conversation will be: Should that protection be expanded to all times when the quarterback has the ball in the pocket?"
It's tough to blame the NFL for taking this type of stance considering the fact that most of the league's top stars play quarterback. Also, the product experiences a significant drop-off when an elite passer is replaced with a run-of-the-mill backup.
That was apparent when the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers faced each other on Monday Night Football in Week 9 as the Bears started Josh McCown over the injured Jay Cutler, while Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had to leave the game early, which led to Seneca Wallace playing most of the contest.
There is no conceivable way for the NFL to ensure that top quarterbacks like Cutler and Rodgers remain healthy, especially since they weren't the victims of malicious hits when they got injured in the first place. In fact, Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon doesn't believe there is much more the league can do to protect passers.
"No question, I wish we were protected better. ... It's a lot safer, because some of the hits we took back in the day - they could still drive us into the turf when they hit us. Those really were painful. Didn't always cause an injury, but made you a little more antsy about taking hits. The guys these days don't really have to put up with it," Moon said. "I don't think there's much more you can do. It's as good as it's going to get, unless you put flags on them."
According to Fendrich, though, quarterback injuries are up significantly this season as the nine signal-callers on injured reserve through 10 weeks are the second most over the past 15 years. There is no more important position than quarterback in the NFL, and if the league is seriously considering taking more measures to protect them, there is no question that league officials believe that to be true as well.