INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL has taken a step toward avoiding the type of quarterback-deficient situation that impacted the NFC Championship game in January.
League owners approved a rule change Monday allowing a team to have an emergency quarterback available if its starter and backup are injured during a game. The emergency QB must be part of a team’s 53-player roster – practice squad players are not eligible, even if they are activated prior to the game – doesn’t count against the game-day active roster and can only enter a game if the top two quarterbacks are injured.
The bylaw was proposed by the Detroit Lions and approved by the owners at their meeting in Eagan, Minn. The NFL previously used the rule from 1991-2010.
Monday’s change was a result of the San Francisco-Philadelphia NFC title game in January that saw the Niners lose starter Brock Purdy to an elbow injury on their first possession of the game and backup Josh Johnson to a concussion in the third quarter.
Running back Christian McCaffrey was a brief option – he was 0-for-1 passing – but Purdy returned in the second half even though he had difficulty throwing the football. The Niners passed for 97 total yards, including 27 in the second half, in their 31-7 loss to the Eagles.
San Francisco had lost its top two quarterbacks – Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo – to injuries during the regular season.
Again, the key to the emergency quarterback rule is he must be part of a team’s regular-season roster, meaning a club must carry three quarterbacks.
The Colts carried three QBs on the active roster throughout 2022: Matt Ryan, Nick Foles and Sam Ehlinger.
Indy found itself one play away from the emergency-quarterback situation in its 38-10 loss to the New York Giants in week 17. Foles sustained a concussion late in the second quarter and was replaced by Ehlinger. Ryan was inactive and not an option if Ehlinger had been forced from the game.
Listen to the Colts Blue Zone Podcast for coverage and analysis of the Indianapolis Colts.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.