Posted on September 22, 2016, by Travis Pulver
Coaches are fond of telling their guys there is no “I” in team, and with good reason. They don’t want anyone thinking they are more important than anyone else is. But the truth of the matter is that one guy is a bit more important than most—the quarterback.
Teams can make due with a lesser talented player on the offensive line or at one of the other skill positions. But at quarterback, it is a lot harder to make due with a lesser talent. When a team goes from having a guy that can do everything that is required of him to one that struggles in one or more areas, it affects how well everyone else can do their job.
Wide receivers can’t catch passes that aren’t thrown to them. If a passing game starts to fail, defenses play to stop the run since they know the passing game isn’t going to be a problem. If you can’t pass and can’t run—well, you can’t win.
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Occasionally, teams get lucky and can deal with the loss of their star quarterback, but it typically doesn’t work that way. The Dallas Cowboys couldn’t replace Tony Romo last year and went on to finish 4-12.
Just two weeks into the season, five teams (seven if you want to count Seattle and Philadelphia) have been impacted by injuries at the quarterback position:
- Dallas Cowboys: When Dallas fans saw Tony Romo go down three plays into the third preseason game a collective “oh sh**!” could be heard coming from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. With Kellen Moore (who was ineffective last year) already out for the season with an injury, the team was left with rookie Dak Prescott.
So far, so good. Prescott looked promising during the preseason and could have the team in good shape when Tony Romo comes back.
- Minnesota Vikings: After winning the division and making the playoffs, hopes were high for the Vikings this year—but then Teddy Bridgewater went down with a severely jacked up knee. So far, they appear to be in good shape at the position after trading for Sam Bradford, but now they have to deal with the loss of Adrian Peterson.
- New England Patriots: Fans were concerned about the position the team would be in after being forced to do without Tom Brady for the first four games—but then Jimmy Garopolo proved to be a legitimate player. But now he’s out for at least this week with an injury (AC joint sprain). According to the rumor mill, the team tried to pressure Garoppolo into playing, but then Thursday morning announced rookie Jacoby Brissett would start (Garoppolo is dressing).
Maybe if they were not playing a team with a defense like the Houston Texans, this would be no big deal, but the Texans front seven have to be licking their chops for this game. However, the Patriots defense could do enough to keep the team in the game.
- Chicago Bears: The Bears were not any good with Jay Cutler, and will likely not be any better with Brian Hoyer at the helm for the next few weeks. What could make the Bears interesting is whether the Bears grow weary of Hoyer and give Matt Barkley a shot.
- Cleveland Browns: Even with Robert Griffin III in the lineup, the Browns were not going to be good this year. With Josh McCown, there was little reason to believe they would be any better. But now both are out with injuries, and the Browns are forced to turn to a rookie, former USC quarterback Cody Kessler.
It would be surprising for the Browns to become good with Kessler at the helm. The team lacks talent in too many areas. What will be interesting is whether he plays well enough to make the Browns think twice about using the first pick in the draft next year (because they will more than likely end up with it) on Deshaun Watson.
Seattle hasn’t been forced to play without Russell Wilson (yet), but many thought he would miss his first game after suffering an ankle sprain against the Miami Dolphins. It was believed to be significant when it happened, but he was off of the injury report before last week’s game against the Los Angeles Rams. However, he was clearly not the same game against the Rams, and they did end up losing that game.
The Philadelphia Eagles have not had anyone fall victim to the injury bug, but the Teddy Bridgewater injury ended up having an impact on their quarterback situation when the Eagles traded their starting QB, Sam Bradford, to the Vikings. That opened the door for Carson Wentz to play even though the Eagles had been quite vocal about their plans to make him inactive this season and develop his skill set better before inserting him into the lineup.
Injuries are part of the game, and something teams have to be prepared to deal with. Most are not, because if the second-string guy was good enough to be a starter he would be one. But teams have to do what they can to prepare for the possibility.
It can be the difference between winning and losing; between hope and despair, and between a coaching staff and front office keeping their jobs.