While we often focus our sights on how many times quarterbacks get sacked, it’s the number of total hits they take that counts. In that aspect, no one has been through more punishment over the last four seasons than Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson.
Andrew Luck missed half of last season after one too many hits, and although he didn’t enter that dangerous stage of concussions, protocols and the fears of getting back to the field, those injuries possibly cost the Colts a fourth consecutive playoff spot. Luck, like Wilson and Tannehill, has been in the NFL since 2012. They’re young guys and pretty durable. Luck didn’t miss a single game until this season. Wilson still hasn’t missed an NFL game in four years. Ryan, playing since 2008, has missed just two in his career. Tannehill, like Wilson, has played all 64 regular season games he was available for.
Per NFL research, most QB hits taken since 2012:
Matt Ryan: 354
Russell Wilson: 349 https://t.co/88Ly0RFsp3
— Chris Wesseling (@ChrisWesseling) April 6, 2016
The Falcons peaked in 2012 when they made the NFC championship game, one good drive away from beating the San Francisco 49ers. Their O-line, despite good tackles, has been terrible since, but this season it might change. Wilson started out his career behind a good offensive line but the last two years have been difficult, and this offseason might not have improved things. The Colts have been shuffling players in front of Luck since he entered the league. With Tannehill, earlier in his career people thought his struggles had to do with his offensive line. Last season suggests the problem may be with him as well.
So how does one get hit so many times and not get injured? Well, part of being a quarterback is knowing how to take a hit and get sacked. Sometimes you don’t see it coming, but one of the things is not putting yourself in needless risk, like Robert Griffin loves to do. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are excellent at rolling up like a ball and falling to the ground the moment they sense it’s about to be all over. It may not be the most “courageous” of options, but the team is better off taking the sack than losing their starting quarterback.
Many said WIlson was going to struggle in the NFL because of his height and size, but his Super Bowl ring and numbers last season, not to mention beating the odds to become the starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, show that it’s not all about length and height as minimum requirements. He may be the best in the league in a few years. Staying healthy and knowing how to lay down when he needs to, something he does very well, are going to be key components of getting him there.