So with Week 10 of the NFL drawing to a close last night with the Kansas City Chiefs falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime, there's one topic of discussion that everyone seems to be talking about. Concussion. On Sunday, 3 starting quarterbacks suffered game ending concussions, with Michael Vick's being so bad that he's incidentally been ruled out of next Sunday's match up against the Redskins. Now many Eagles fans may see this as a blessing in disguise for this franchise, especially with the Eagles having lost 5 out of their last 5, and many fans calling for Andy Reid to start Nick Foles ahead of the unpredictable Vick.
In fact many are surprised it's taken so long for Vick to sit out a game, considering he was hit 134 times in the first 8 games. Not only will his pride be hurting, but also his body. With the exit door looming for Vick, you would have to wonder if Foles has a good week at the Redskins, whether Vick would be able to obtain his place.
As well as Vick, the other two big QB casualties were Jay Cutler of the Bears & Alex Smith of the 49ers. With these two sides meeting next Monday in a match up which could be significant in seeding for the play-offs, we could be in the position of having both number 1 QBs sitting out of this one if their concussions are as serious as Vick's.
Interestingly, not one of the three teams that lost their QB went on to win the game, with only the 49ers being able to obtain a draw, which was the first in the NFL since 2008. It was a shame for us fans who watched the Texans vs Bears game that Cutler had to leave at half time, as at that point the Bears really had a goof chance of getting the win, especially with the treachorous conditions in Chicago. But was Cutler taken off early enough?
Cutler took the big hit from linebacker Tim Dobbins that would have caused his concussion with 2:30 still left of the half. After that point Cutler played 2 more series, which included 7 snaps and led to an interception for Cutler. NFL rules state that if a player shows any sign of a concussion they should be taken off the field immediately. If this is the case then it does seem strange that the Bears would allow Cutler to continue until half time before realising he had sustained a concussion. Player safety is the number 1 priority in the NFL, with the league always looking at ways of trying to keep the players safe. But with 3 concussions of the QB in one weekend, that must send alarm bells to Roger Goodell that more needs to be done.
Tackling is a fundamental part of football, and this will never change. But sometimes the roughness of some tackles may have to be questioned. With the whole 'bountygate' scandal which went on which shamed the New Orleans Saints, you would hope that players were told not to go out to hurt key players for opposing teams, such as the quarterback. In all reality for a player, if they go in high or late on a quarterback and it costs them 15 yards, I'm sure their coach would take this if it means there's a possibility that this could affect the opposing teams quarterback and maybe rule him out of the game.
Going back to player safety, there's been a number of fields asking for the league to consider getting rid of the helmets players wear in order to reduce the amount of head injuries. At first this may seem like a stupid idea, but when you start to think about it, it does seem to make sense. Most head injuries and concussions are caused by the player leading with their head, due to the fact that they know the risk of them getting injured is lowered because of the helmet they wear. If you remove the helmet, this stops players going in so hard with their head, and also means less potentially bad injuries for players. People will ask how this can work, and surely it will cause more injuries? But then I would point you to the sport of rugby.
In rugby the challenges are much more brutal than in the NFL, and it's all done without helmets or any padding as NFL players have. So why can't it work in the NFL? The fact is that it would take a brave man to actually make the decision, based on the fact that it could backfire for them and cause more injuries. But people won't know for sure until it's trialled. Maybe one day the league will seriously consider this proposition, especially with recent studies showing the head injuries obtained during football have long term effects for athletes after football. But will that day come in the distance future? Probably not.
So when people look back at Week 10 at the end of the season, they'll remember two things. The Falcons losing their undefeated record to the Saints, and the 3 concussions to starting quarterbacks. With Vick already out of Week 11, and Cutler and Smith's respective teams set to play each other on Monday Night Football, you would hope that the concussions suffered aren't too serious and that we can get to see another great match between 2 fine quarterbacks in this great league. Bring on Week 11!
Will Talbut - @WSTalbs