The list of injured quarterbacks keeps growing and growing

The NFL wants to do all it can to keep quarterbacks healthy. Even with aggressive enforcement of roughing the passer rules and lax enforcement of: (1) intentional grounding; (2) holding; and (3) illegal procedure, it’s not working.

More and more quarterbacks are injured. Quarterbacks from good teams. Quarterbacks whose teams play in prime-time, standalone games.

Through little more than half of the season, six starters have had season-ending injuries: Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (who could come back, but likely won’t), Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, and Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. That’s 18.75 percent of the league’s starters, gone and not coming back this season.

The Jets had high hopes and many standalone games, none of which have been flexed. The next one — the much-hyped Black Friday game on Amazon vs. the Dolphins — can’t be flexed.

The Vikings, Colts, Browns, and Bengals are all contenders. Whether they qualify for the playoffs will depend on the performance of their backups, or the ability of the rest of the team to overcome the performance of their backups. (The Colts have the most accomplished of the bunch, in Gardner Minshew.)

Other quarterbacks have missed game time due to injury: Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (ankle), Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (concussion, back), Bears quarterback Justin Fields (thumb), Panthers quarterback Bryce Young (ankle), Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder (sort of), Saints quarterback Derek Carr (shoulder, concussion), Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (thumb), and Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (knee).

Others have been banged up, without missing games: Bills quarterback Josh Allen (shoulder), Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (X-ray room after Week 10 loss), Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (ribs, knee), Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (ankle injury on Thursday night), Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (knee injury Week 6), Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (early season shoulder issue), Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (broken middle finger on non-throwing hand), Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (hand), Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (who was never on the injury report but clearly had/has a knee injury), Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (finger injury at 49ers), Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (shoulder, knee), and 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (concussion).

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray missed nine games this season due to a torn ACL from last year.

Various backups have gotten injured, once their opportunity arose. Giants quarterback Tyrod Taylor had a rib-cage injury that put him in the hospital. Falcons quarterback Taylor Heinicke exited last Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals with a hamstring injury. Titans quarterback Will Levis has a foot injury. Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall suffered a concussion on the first drive of his first start. And current Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito has left shoulder and knee injuries. Vikings quarterback Josh Dobbs currently has an ankle injury.

Here are the quarterbacks who have been, by all appearances, fully healthy this year: Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, Commanders quarterback Sam Howell, Lions quarterback Jared Goff, and Packers quarterback Jordan Love. That’s five. Out of 32.

The most amazing name on that list is Tua. He’s the one player who had the biggest questions regarding durability entering the season. And he’s one of only five who haven’t been on the injury report all year.

Eight weeks remain in the regular season, minus the Thursday night game that saw Burrow’s season end and Jackson injure an ankle. It’s possible that the chase for the Lombardi Trophy could end up being, in large part, a war of attrition.

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