Stafford, Tannehill, Murray, Rodgers, Allen (And Wentz) Form NFL QB M.A.S.H Unit

Last month when club owners convened in New York for their winter meeting, NFL executive Troy Vincent made it clear no amount of outcry about roughing the passer penalties was going to derail the league from protecting quarterbacks.

Because the NFL values quarterbacks more than just about anything — except, of course, money.

“We know the numbers: 91 out of the top 100 rated television shows last year were NFL games,” Vincent, the Executive Vice President of Football Operations said.

“Why? Because of the quality of play of the quarterback position from top to bottom. They keep the league healthy and strong. Everyone knows if your quarterback’s not healthy, then you don’t have a chance to win. And I experienced that for 15 years.

“Walking out of that tunnel you know if you have a chance to win by knowing who’s walking out of that tunnel with you, who’s going to be underneath the center.”

Well, this week the quarterback position is under significant scrutiny because an inordinate amount of them might not be walking out of any tunnels on game day.

Aaron Rodgers thumb is injured.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers walks off the field with wrap around right (throwing) thumb. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

NFL Quarterbacks Missing Practice

On Wednesday no less than five starting quarterbacks (nearly 16 percent of the the NFL’s starters) reported to their teams injured enough as to appear on the injury report and make their status uncertain for the next game.

Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay didn’t practice Wednesday, as has become necessary in recent weeks, because of a thumb injury.

Josh Allen in Buffalo didn’t practice because of a sprained right (throwing) elbow.

Kyler Murray in Arizona is nursing a hamstring injury. The Cardinals didn’t actually practice fully but rather had a walk-through. But NFL rules require teams report what a player would have or would not have done if the team practiced fully.

And Murray wouldn’t have practiced.

Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee still is not practicing after missing the past two games with an ankle injury. OutKick reported two weeks ago the injury would keep any player out of the lineup at least two weeks.

Matt Stafford in Los Angeles did not practice Wednesday because he is in the concussion protocol.

This MASH unit of quarterbacks doesn’t even include Carson Wentz, who has missed a couple of starts since he fractured a finger and required surgery.

So, yeah, the NFL has a bit of a concern on its hands if quarterbacks are the players the league most worries about keeping on the field.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has entered the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Matt Stafford Concussion Protocol Curious

The question then becomes which of these guys will rally and play? And which may not?

Consider:

The Stafford concussion is the most curious. Rams coach Sean McVay said the Los Angeles medical staff evaluated Stafford after Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay and determined Stafford should be in the concussion protocol.

But the coach also said he didn’t know about it Monday.

“They felt like that was the best thing for him,” McVay told reporters. “That’s kind of where we’re at with it. It’s more importantly about the person, then the player in these types of things, as we know.”

That suggests the Rams might keep Stafford sidelined during Sunday’s home game against Arizona even if he clears the protocol for the player’s longterm safety sake. But that’s not a decision that has to be made yet.

“Nobody’s more of a competitor in wanting to be out there with his teammates than Matthew,” McVay said. “He’s in the protocol, so we’ll take it a day at a time with him. That’s what our medical experts determined, just based on some of the things that they gathered, was the smart and the right course of action.”

Kyler Murray scrambles
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray uses his feet as a prime weapon. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Murray’s Hamstring Affects Scrambling

It is possible the Rams and Cardinals might play with neither starting quarterback available because of Murray’s hamstring injury, but that is only an outside possibility.

Still, the injury bears monitoring because Murray, more than most quarterbacks, relies on his feet to make off-schedule plays and save him and his team when protections break down. With a hamstring injury, that part of Murray’s game would be limited.

And, as always, players with hamstring injuries that are not fully healed sometimes re-aggravate the injury and make matters worse.

Josh Allen can hurdle but will elbow allow him to throw?
Josh Allen loves to scramble as well as throw but will he even play this week against the Vikings?

Can Bills Win Without Josh Allen?

The Allen elbow injury probably isn’t going to affect the Bills’ ability to get in the playoffs. Even if he misses a little time, he should be back for the final month or so of the season.

The Bills, meanwhile, believe themselves a good enough team to stay afloat if Allen is out for a time.

But if Allen cannot play during an extended time the club’s margin for error in winning the AFC East gets smaller.

The Bills, you see, lead the division by only half-a-game and are 0-2 in both their division games — losses to the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.

Allen is day-to-day according to coach Sean McDermott. But if he misses a game or three, Buffalo’s hopes of holding the top seed in the conference could disappear.

And that would put the Bills on the road in the playoffs.

Making the playoffs is a conversation that’s fading in Green Bay even while Rodgers has played with his thumb injury.

Despite not practicing Wednesday, the Packers’ quarterback met with reporters and spoke nostalgically about former coach Mike McCarthy, whose Dallas Cowboys play the Packers on Sunday.

And, I get it, it’s a nice story. And Rodgers has missed the last three Wednesday practices and still played. So he’ll likely play this week.

But there’s a difference between showing up and excelling. And Rodgers definitely didn’t do that last week at Detroit. So is this injury more serious than anyone knows?

After several throws Sunday, Rodgers would be seen rubbing his thumb or grimacing as if the injury affected his performance.

That performance included three interceptions so dismissing the injury altogether seems unwise.

Finally, there’s Tannehill. He’s definitely not right yet.

And it might be a while longer.

“It has been getting better,” he said. “It is something that I am going to be dealing with for a while, just with the nature of the injury. It’s not something that gets better overnight. It is definitely testing my patience up until this point and is still doing so.” 

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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