I know I am not the only one that rolls my eyes when a flag ends up on the ground after an NFL quarterback gets barely touched in the head area or hit .02 seconds late. Everyone feels like the QB gets treated like they are something special while most of the other players on the field get beat up on every play. But I have a good piece of evidence for why it is best for everyone that NFL quarterbacks get heavy protection. Exhibit A: Ryan Lindley.
If you saw yesterday’s game between Arizona and Carolina you saw one team at a huge disadvantage. The Cardinals had no choice but to start their third stringer, Ryan Lindley, after Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton were knocked out of action earlier in the regular season. The result was a debacle. The only chance Arizona had was to have someone kidnap Cam Newton and his backup before the game in a “Taken” type scenario. The teams would be evenly matched then with both down to their 3rd option at QB. Lindley was totally ineffective, not to mention scared to death from the first snap.
After a great regular season the Cardinals were set up for failure as they faced a Carolina team with their superstar Cam Newton ready to roll behind center. I don’t want this to come out as a bash fest on Ryan Lindley. They guy did the best he could. I am sure of that. But if he were NFL ready he would have been the starter or at least the backup. He simply is not NFL ready and that is the reason the NFL has to protect all the QB1s in the league. Without those guys healthy each week we would have more games like Carolina v. Arizona. No one wants to see more of that type of action. 78 yards of total offense is a recipe for ratings at the level of a Major League Baseball game. The NFL wants no part of that and neither do the fans.
For those still unconvinced by my evidence, I get it. You want it to be the way it was back in the day when players were getting clotheslined and concussions were not even discussed. I miss those old school days also. The intimidation factor was a great part of the game and QBs of today couldn’t hold the jock strap of those from just a couple decades ago. I saw Montana and Aikman takes brutal hits well after the ball was out that would have today’s passers curled up in a ball. The stats that modern day quarterbacks are piling up are the result of defenders not being able to hammer them. Records set after all the QB protection rules were put in place shouldn’t be compared to QB records when they had to absorb many more hits and deal with the fear factor on every play.
All that said, I still have to side with protecting the quarterbacks. I love seeing big defensive hits and the toll it takes on offensive players like receivers and quarterbacks. However, I like seeing competitive games even more. I will take seeing the QBs protected by the refs over the great hits from defenders on the signal callers. The Arizona and Carolina matchup painted a clear picture of why the NFL can’t afford too many backups or third stringers entering games. The league is doing everything they can to avoid those scenarios. I never thought I would say it publicly, but I applaud the effort in the name of competition.