NFL quarterbacks are going down at an incredible rate, which can be determined from a simple study of the numbers.
The reasons why continue to baffle teams, which are spending more and more on passers and watching more and more of them go down.
According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, 11 teams will have changed quarterbacks already this season when Sunday’s game start, and 45 quarterbacks will have started at least one game.
It’s Week Eight.
“This is not exclusive to us. There are risks at the quarterback position,” said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who has plowed through three and could be circling back to one of the first two this week because of Josh Freeman’s concussion. “You’re going to take some hits. Those guys are in a vulnerable position a lot of times. So, it’s a premium on having a good backup because of that.”
A look at the injury report also shows the arrow climbing steadily.
So far this year, there have been 17 designations of doubtful or out for quarterbacks. Last year at this time there were six, and in 2011 there were 10.
While many will point to the increase in running quarterbacks, several of the injuries were on non-designed scrambles, such as the season-enders to Sam Bradford and Brian Hoyer.
But at least one executive thinks the problem could be a function of pass protection rather than passers or play-calls.
Only six teams have started the same five offensive linemen in every game, and many of the young players coming from spread offenses in college simply aren’t prepared to block at the NFL level.
“The splits are so much wider. They’re getting rid of the ball that much quicker. Your offensive linemen aren’t protecting for as long,” one personnel executive said. “There’s not the 2½-, 3-second time allotment where the offensive linemen will hold their blocks. I know I’m reaching, but, . . . I don’t know what it is.
“The offensive line play in the league is just bad.”
And while that’s not as glamourous an explanation as looking for a shift in the way teams are calling plays, it might hold as much water as any of the other theories as to why players at the glamour position keep going down.