Quarterback is the most important position in football. A team’s season can change in the blink of an eye if its franchise quarterback misses time. Not only that, but it is apparent how quickly the fan base’s outlook and front office decisions alter due to quarterback injuries.
Week 8 was not friendly to quarterbacks as multiple signal callers got knocked out of their respective games.
Week 8 Injury Analysis
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings got back to a .500 record and brought themselves into the NFC playoff picture. However, the playoffs are a long shot, with QB Kirk Cousins suffering a season-ending Achilles tear in their win over Green Bay.
Cousins has been one of the most durable players in recent years. Since coming to Minnesota, he’s never missed a game due to injury and has started 88 of the 90 regular season games. With free agency pending for him in the offseason, the Vikings’ plan of attack for the future has a significant wrinkle added.
The front office quickly traded for Josh Dobbs before Tuesday’s trade deadline, but it would be unreasonable to expect him to replicate what Cousins has done this season. Cousins ranks third in Total Points among quarterbacks, whereas Dobbs ranks 27th.
The Vikings are left with even more questions as we near the season's midpoint. How do they handle Justin Jefferson returning from injury? How competitive will they be? How do they view Cousins as an option after this season? The answers to these questions and more will have lasting effects on the franchise's trajectory.
Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford eventually left Week 8’s game after spraining the UCL in his thumb on his throwing hand. He banged it on the helmet of a defender on the follow-through of a throw during.
He suffered a partially torn thumb ligament in that same hand in 2020 as a member of the Detroit Lions, and he continued to play through the injury for the rest of the season. The Lions went 1-6 to close out that season after Stafford’s thumb injury, and the Rams have a decision to make with how cautious they want to be with their Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
His Independent Quarterback Rating has dropped after his first year with the Los Angeles Rams and is at 88.4 this year after routinely hovering around 100 when in Detroit.
Tyrod Taylor, New York Giants
Tyrod Taylor was taken to the hospital for a rib injury during the New York Giants’ loss to the Jets. The Giants resorted to a third-string quarterback for most of the game and finished with negative nine net passing yards. That showed just how pedestrian NFL defenses can make quarterbacks with limited experience look.
The quarterback carousel will continue for the Giants. Daniel Jones was cleared this week. The constant changes make them the only team in the NFL with less than 100 points scored this season.
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett also left his game on Sunday for a rib injury, seemingly not as severe as Taylor’s. It will be a tough turnaround for Pickett to play on a short week Thursday night, and it’s the second injury that has knocked Pickett out of a game this season.
If he sits out of this week’s game, he will join a long list of starting quarterbacks to miss at least one game already.
Quarterbacks With at Least One Game Missed
|Jimmy Garoppolo (Concussion/Back)
|Daniel Jones (Neck)
|Anthony Richardson (Shoulder)
|Aaron Rodgers (Achilles)
|Ryan Tannehill (Ankle)
|Deshaun Watson (Shoulder)
|Bryce Young (Ankle)
Joe Burrow (Bengals), Kyler Murray (Cardinals)
On a more positive note for quarterbacks. Joe Burrow looks healthy and back to his old self after his calf injury lingered to start the season. A big win on the road in San Francisco saw him scrambling and looking more comfortable in the pocket.
Burrow has the Cincinnati Bengals looking like serious threats again. He had his highest completion percentage on the season and went over 10 rushing yards for the first time all season, finishing with 43.
Kyler Murray is nearing a return for the Arizona Cardinals after he tore his ACL last season. It is part of the reason they felt comfortable trading Dobbs. Murray’s play down the stretch will be one to watch as Arizona figures to hover around the No. 1 draft pick slot for a draft class loaded with quarterback prospects.
Grady Jarrett, Atlanta Falcons
In Week 8, Atlanta Falcons QB Desmond Ridder was evaluated and cleared from concussion protocol, even though he didn’t return to the game. The bigger loss for the team could actually be on the defensive side of the ball, as they will now look for ways to fill Grady Jarrett’s production.
The two-time Pro-Bowler will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL suffered in Week 8. Playing on the interior defensive line isn’t as glamorous as playing quarterback, but losing Jarrett will loom large.
Jarrett demands a lot of attention from the opposing offensive line, which makes the lives of the other Falcons’ defensive linemen easier. Like most defenses in 2023, the Falcons rotate their defensive lineman to keep everyone as fresh as possible.
Jarett has played a little more than 60 percent of the defensive snaps. With 289 snaps on the field and 167 snaps off the field, we can get a good idea of how impactful he is for the entire defense. The trend doesn't disappear when you remove third-down pass-heavy situations.
|Opposing Yards per Carry
|Forced Blown Block %
|Grady Jarrett on the Field
|Grady Jarrett off the Field
We expect opposing teams to operate more comfortably against this front going forward. It remains to be seen if Atlanta will make any schematic changes to manufacture more havoc at the line of scrimmage.
With uncertainty at quarterback and a major loss on the defensive side of the ball, Atlanta will exhaust all options to win the NFC South.
This article was authored by Brett Barnes.