While the NFL has taken the week to respond to critics and the public outcry over players taking brutal helmet-to-helmet hits, defensive players have complained that they’re being unfairly targeted. Count some offensive players who believe the problem doesn’t lie solely with headhunters on defense.
Both Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward and Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne agree that the quarterbacks are responsible for keeping receivers away from dangerous hits. Ward said that rookie quarterback Colt McCoy locked into receiver Mohamed Massaquoi allowing James Harrison to make the read and be in the right spot for his knockout hit. Ward also said exactly what I thought, that Kevin Kolb floated a ball for DeSean Jackson right into Dunta Robinson leaving him vulnerable.
Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne said the same thing. He told Scott Van Pelt on ESPN Radio “sometimes you have got to look at it on the offensive side of the ball whether the quarterbacks are putting the balls into the right places or leading them into coverage.” Henne acknowledged that defensive players need to avoid hits to the head but that quarterbacks still have a role in these plays.
I’m not trying to absolve defense players from blame in this situation, but the reality is the good quarterbacks don’t just throw for tons of yards and touchdowns, they also keep their receivers from getting killed with dangerous passes. Keep that in mind every time you see a receiver get lit up and ask yourself if a differently thrown ball could have changed the situation. Many times the answer is yes.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Don Wright