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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is very likely going to miss the Christmas Eve game against the Dallas Cowboys because he has a sprained right shoulder. And while that isn’t the worst thing in the world because the Eagles have built such a sizeable lead in the NFC East, it does reverberate in other meaningful ways.
The Hurts injury, you see, makes a statement about the dangers dual-threat quarterbacks face in playing outside the pocket the way they routinely do.
So, barring a recovery, Hurts will become the fifth dual threat starting quarterback to miss at least one game because of injury this season. Said another way, five of the NFL’s top seven rushing quarterbacks have already missed or will miss games if Hurts misses Saturday’s start.
It’s like these dual-threat QBs are injury magnets.
Hurts Leads List Of Injured Dual-Threat QBs
And that doesn’t mean only dual-threat quarterbacks get injured. But of the NFL’s 10 leading touchdown passers, only two are dual-threat players — Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Hurts.
And if Hurts indeed does not play Saturday, he will be only the second of that largely pocket-passing group to miss a start.
(Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa is the other).
Hurts this season has helped his team build the NFL’s best record at 13-1 by throwing 22 TD passes with only 5 interceptions while also scoring 13 rushing touchdowns. So Hurts has accounted for 4,219 total yards and 35 touchdowns.
The problem with those numbers is Hurts, as a dual-threat quarterback, often finds himself exposed to a full range of hits from infinite angles while enjoying none of the protection quarterbacks get in the pass pocket.
That’s how Hurts got, well, hurt. He was running right and Chicago Bears defensive end Trevis Gipson slammed him to the ground on his right shoulder.
Because Hurts was out of the pocket, Gipson didn’t have to limit the weight with which he landed on Hurts.
That’s how it is for dual-threat QBs. They are a threat to do great damage to defenses.
But defenses are a threat to do great damage to them.
Justin Fields, Lamar Jackson Also Miss Games
Consider that in the same game Hurts was injured, Bears dual-threat QB Justin Fields also left with a leg injury.
(Fields returned but everyone in Chicago was holding their breath until he jogged back to the sideline.)
Fields, by the way, missed a game with a shoulder sprain earlier this year.
Lamar Jackson, perhaps the game’s standard for dual-threat quarterbacks, has missed two games with a sprained PCL in his left knee.
The Ravens are 1-1 in the games Jackson has missed.
“I think I’m going to climb behind the barricade of it’s probably not the time to put a lot of information out there on our injuries, just for competitive purposes,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “So, we’re just going to let that develop and see where we go with it and not try to walk the tight rope of what we say.”
Harbaugh said on Dec. 6th that Jackson was “week to week.”
Despite Harbaugh’s barricade, the club is hopeful Jackson can be back for Saturday’s game against the Falcons.
Jackson injured his knee throwing from the pocket. He was sacked for a 6-yard loss by Broncos linebacker Jonathan Cooper,
Kyler Murray Out For The Season
But here’s the problem with dual-threat quarterbacks, however they get hurt: It happens a lot.
Jackson missed five games last season because of injury. Fields suffered cracked ribs last year and missed five of the Bears’ final seven games. Hurts had a high ankle sprain last year and missed a start.
Pocket passers, meanwhile, can play with some leg injuries as long as they can move in the pocket’s limited space. Dual-threat quarterbacks need their legs healthy to be able to get outside the pocket.
The Falcons had a dual-threat quarterback this season. Marcus Mariota started 12 games until he went on injured reserve last week and was scheduled for knee surgery.
And, full disclosure, Mariota was getting benched whether he was injured or not. But the point remains he is another dual-threat guy who will not be around for the remainder of the season.
Neither will Arizona’s Kyler Murray.
Murray is the seventh leading rusher among quarterbacks because he missed two games with a hamstring injury.
Murray played one full game after recovering from his injury. Then, after only one pass attempt, suffered an ACL injury scrambling out of the pocket against New England on Dec. 12.
Murray also missed three games with an ankle injury last season.
Murray, by the way, went down without any contact. That makes the point that just running around can be a problem sometimes as opposed to sticking in the pocket.
A Warning To Guys Such As Josh Allen
What does all this mean?
It makes calls for caution to players such as Buffalo’s Allen something more than empty echoes.
Allen led his team with 77 rushing yards and also converted a rush for a 2-point play last Saturday against the Miami Dolphins. Some of Buffalo’s runs were designed but some are merely “Josh being Josh,” as tight end Dawson Knox said.
And Allen, who runs into and sometimes hurdles defenders, has been warned not to expose himself so often in such ways. He’s aware of the risk. But does it, anyway.
The Bills have to hope it works out better for him than it has for Hurts, Jackson, Murray, Mariota and Fields this year.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero