The NFL’s Quarterback Problem Is Only Getting Worse

Trevor Lawrence is the latest big name quarterback to go down with an injury

Trevor Lawrence of the Jaguars is helped after being injured.
Trevor Lawrence is the latest NFL starter to go down.
Mike Carlson/Getty

After taking over as the starter in New England when Drew Bledsoe was forced to the bench with a collapsed lung, Tom Brady never missed a game in more than 22 seasons with the Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers — except when he tore his ACL and MCL in 2008 and was suspended for his alleged role in Deflategate 2016. In total, Brady started 333 regular season games and an extra 48 playoff games, the equivalent of three extra seasons. As the NFL’s all-time leader in nearly every important passing category, the seven-time Super Bowl winner will always be lauded for his ability on the football field. But his availability to get out there and play week after week is just as impressive, especially as time goes on and starting quarterbacks in the NFL continue to miss games.

Last night on Monday Night Football, Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence became the latest starting NFL quarterback to go down with an injury when he sprained his right ankle in the fourth quarter of the Jaguars’ 34-31 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Though no timetable has been announced for Lawrence, the injury did not look good, and he left the locker room in a walking boot on crutches.

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Immediately after Lawrence went down, ESPN displayed a graphic showing all of the starting quarterbacks who’ve been lost to season-ending injuries this year. It’s quite a list:

  • Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (who may come back, but probably won’t)
  • Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson
  • Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins
  • Giants quarterback Daniel Jones
  • Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson
  • Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow

Though neither is expected to be done for the season, Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (high-ankle sprain) and Saints quarterback Derek Carr (concussion) were also hurt during Week 13 and will likely miss a game or two. Altogether, that’s nine teams that will be without their starting quarterback in Week 14. If you factor in Week 1 starters like Mac Jones, Ryan Tannehill, Jimmy Garoppolo and Zach Wilson who’ve lost their jobs because of their lack of ability, nearly half of the 32 teams in the NFL will be deploying a backup quarterback as we enter the home stretch of the regular season.

When quarterbacks like Brady, Philip Rivers (252 consecutive starts in regular season and playoffs) and Peyton (227) and Eli Manning (222) were the faces of the NFL, it would have been almost unfathomable for one of them to miss a game, let alone all four. But this weekend, star quarterbacks like Lawrence, Rodgers, Burrow and Watson will all be on the sidelines.

It’s hard to pinpoint a solution — other than talking Brady, Rivers and the Mannings out of retirement — but the state of the quarterback position in the NFL is definitely a problem that only seems to be getting worse.

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