Peter King Thinks the NFL will “Regret” Not Banning the Eagles’ QB Sneak
This news is a few days old, but the CliffsNotes is that the NFL will not be banning the Eagles’ QB sneak next year. They didn’t even bring it to a vote because a change would require 24 teams and they didn’t have anywhere close to that.
One of the big opponents of rugby scrum middle is Peter King, who wrote this in his Football Morning in America column:
It’s counter to the NFL’s on-and-on emphasis on player safety to not adjust this rule, or to eliminate it. Frankly, it’s mind-boggling. The Eagles had incredible success (they were 37 of 41 last year on QB sneaks, many of which featured two players pushing Jalen Hurts from behind), and Buffalo, Cincinnati and Baltimore also experimented with assisting the runner from behind. Coaches in Denver and Seattle have said they’ll work on the technique for 2023. When one successful team has a 90 percent success rate, as the Eagles did on the sneak, well, why wouldn’t other teams adopt it?
My problem, aside from the fact that it’s not a football play, is that it’s only a matter of time before a quarterback gets hurt on the play. In the Super Bowl, on one Hurts sneak, Kansas City sent a defensive lineman, missile-like, over the scrum at the line of scrimmage. How dangerous is a 290-pound projectile hurtling toward a quarterback? How fortunate is it that he, or Hurts, was not concussed on that play?
I think the NFL’s going to live to regret this inaction.
Dunno. I see a lot of Eagles fans shitting on King’s take on social, but let’s inspect it.
First, what exactly is a “football play?” That’s a nebulous concept, is it not? King is basically suggesting that this takes us out of football and brings us to rugby, but is a regular quarterback sneak with nobody pushing a “football play?” What about Tim Tebow barreling forward out of the Wildcat? In both cases the base concept is similar. You’ve got massive dudes crashing into each other and trying to gain leverage in the trenches. I think we’re splitting hairs here because the line of scrimmage mechanics are more or less similar on each of those plays.
The other thing he talks about is injury, and asks rhetorically “how dangerous is a 290-pound projectile hurtling toward a quarterback?” The problem here is the existence of myriad football instances in which a 290-pound guy can hurtle towards an opponent, and most of them are during open field runs or drop-back passing situations. The tush push I think is less dangerous, in a lot of ways, because there’s little momentum on the line and outside of that one instance King mentions, I don’t recall anyone trying to get a running start and just jump over the line and obliterate Jalen Hurts. I’d think the first tush push injury will actually be a lineman getting rolled up or squashed in the pile of bodies. I’m willing to bet money on that, that there’s an ankle or leg injury on the O-line before Jalen Hurts ever gets injured.
At the risk of burying the lede, it’s worth pointing out that Hurts has tree trunk legs and can leg press a million pounds. He’s perfect for this kind of play because he can churn like a fullback. You’re probably not running the tush push with Matt Ryan or Derek Carr, yeah? The Birds have a dual-threat QB who led the league in red zone rushing attempts, so the play works for them. Is Hurts more likely to be injured from a shotgun run out of empty set or getting pushed into a pile from behind? We all saw what happened in the Chicago game.
The Eagles’ controversial QB sneak play, in which two, and sometimes even three players line up behind Jalen Hurts to push, was unchallenged by NFL competition committee.
It's here to stay for at least 2023.
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— The Athletic NFL (@TheAthleticNFL) March 24, 2023