Mobile QB vs. Pocket Passer: Who’s at Risk?

Kevin Cline

The conventional wisdom is that a mobile quarterback is more at risk for injury than the quarterback who stands securely in the pocket.  But when you watch Marcus Mariota run out of bounds untouched after a 30-yard gain and then watch Matt Barkley get creamed when the pocket breaks down, you have to wonder.

High speed tackles pose a definite hazard, but running doesn’t injure quarterbacks. Getting hit does, but running and hits are not the same thing. The mobile quarterback has choices: he can run out of bounds, slide, or if all goes well, sprint into the end zone untouched.

The pocket passer, on the other hand, has his own set of hazards. He may get sacked or get off a pass an instant before taking a vicious hit. His chances of getting sandwiched are much higher, and often the slices of bread come at 300 pounds plus. He also has higher chances of being landed on by very large bodies, getting blindsided and getting slammed to the ground. His opportunity to roll with the blows is limited. And with his concentration focused 30 yards downfield, he is less aware of his immediate surroundings than the mobile QB.

Earlier this year, Slate.com cited a study comparing injuries between mobile quarterbacks and pocket quarterbacks. The results of the survey were that, if anything, mobile quarterbacks were slightly less susceptible to serious injury than pocket passers. The only statistically significant difference the survey uncovered was that there is a correlation between the number of times a quarterback gets sacked and the number of serious injuries, regardless of whether the quarterback is a mobile or traditional pocket QB. So the best defense isn’t a great offense. It’s a great offensive line.  Go Ducks!

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