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NFL says injury data shows protections for quarterbacks are working

Indianapolis Colts v Oakland Raiders

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 24: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders is helped off the field after injuring his right leg during their NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on December 24, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

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The NFL has changed several rules in recent years designed to keep quarterbacks healthier. The league thinks it now has the evidence to show those rules are working.

According to Peter King of, starting quarterbacks missed a total of just 35 games in 2016, a significant reduction from the 59 games missed in 2015, 77 in 2014 and 76 in 2013. The league thinks that shows defensive players are learning not to hit quarterbacks illegally, and referees are focusing more on the safety of quarterbacks.

On the other hand, it could just be a statistical fluke. Titans starting quarterback Marcus Mariota suffered a broken leg in Week 16 that caused him to miss one start, in Week 17. But if he had suffered that same injury in Week One, it could have ended his season and caused him to miss 15 starts. And Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr suffered a broken leg of his own in Week 16 that reportedly would have caused him to miss about eight games if it had come early in the season. Just change the timing of those two injuries, and the number of games missed by starting quarterbacks in 2016 could equal the number of games missed by starting quarterbacks in 2015.

So while it’s good news that fewer quarterbacks missed games, we’ll need a few more years of data before we can draw any real conclusions.