As the NFL season progresses, injuries are bound to happen. However, in just three weeks there has already been a number of high-profile injuries, including a slew suffered by quarterbacks. Drew Brees is sidelined for more than a month, Ben Rothlesburger is done for the year and the Jets are already on their third-string quarterback. The DC Sports Staff is here to decide which injury will have the greatest impact on the remainder of the 2019 season.
The answer to this question is somewhat of a toss-up between Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees, but I’m going with Big Ben for a couple of reasons. The first obvious reason is that Big Ben will be out for the season, essentially crushing any hope the Steelers had of competing for the playoffs this season. Brees will be back in about six weeks and will be there to lead the Saints in a likely playoff push. The second main reason is that the Steelers simply need Big Ben more than the Saints need Brees. As a Pats fans who hates the Steelers, I have the utmost respect for Roethlisberger’s ability to continue to lead his team to a playoff berth after playoff berth. His ability to hang in the pocket, shrug off 350-pound defensive linemen and sling the ball downfield will be sorely missed this season. Mason Rudolph has looked decent in two starts so far, but he simply doesn’t bring the same talent or experience that Big Ben has. As for Brees and the Saints, backup QB Teddy Bridgewater has plenty of NFL experience and, if his first start against the Seahawks was any indication of his ability to win games as a fill-in, the Saints will not fall off as a serious playoff contender while Brees is sidelined.
Saquon Barkley is the best injured player, and Drew Brees is the most important one, but they’ll luckily both return in 2019. Also, the Giants are bad enough that it barely matters, and the Saints are good enough to stay afloat in the NFC South while Brees rehabs. That’s why neither of these players’ injuries is the most devastating in the NFL; Ben Roethlisberger’s is. The Steelers are already 0-3 (0-2 sans Big Ben) and their slow start is probably too much to overcome without their franchise quarterback for the remainder of the season. Though Juju Smith-Schuster and James Conner had promising seasons a year ago, they’ve both fallen short of those expectations in 2019. Furthermore, Pittsburgh lost Antonio Brown in the offseason, after missing the playoffs in 2018 even with his services. The Steelers backup quarterback, Mason Rudolph, has looked fine in Roethlisberger’s stead, but without Big Ben, this team just no longer has the talent to make a playoff run. Pittsburgh looks ready to throw in the towel. Good thing they still have their first round pick–oh wait.
The injury that will have the greatest impact for the rest of the 2019 season is the loss of Cam Newton for potentially the rest of the season. While Newton has not played great this season, and the Panthers have won a game without him, he is their best quarterback. When Cam Newton is healthy, we know he is capable of doing things that most quarterbacks cannot, which makes this injury even more devastating. Carolina had playoff aspirations coming into the season, and without Cam they have no realistic shot of making them. In many ways this was a make-it-or-break-it year for Cam and the Panthers. Cam’s injury has the potential to not only change the Panthers approach to the rest of the season, but it could affect his play for the rest of his career. Cam is believed to have suffered a Lisfranc injury in his foot. These types of injuries are not easy to come back from, and it will be even harder for Cam since he is a dual threat quarterback. As a result, Carolina could decide to start tanking in order to position themselves to receive a better spot in the draft to try and pick a quarterback to replace Newton.
I think that losing Ben Roethlisberger is the biggest injury this year. While there are other injured quarterbacks–a lot of them, including Nick Foles, Drew Brees and Cam Newton–these teams are not losing their players for as long or with as questionable backups. Minshew has been playing exceedingly well for the Jaguars, and Newton and Brees are not supposed to be out all season. Ben Roethlisberger, on the other hand, is. And his backup, Mason Rudolph, is forced to start with an 0-2 record that he made 0-3 this past weekend. His performance was questionable at best; 174 yards, two TDs, and one interception. This performance shows how much Roethlisberger is going to be missed by a team that is built entirely around him. The other teams that are missing players will be able to hold on, but I don’t think the Steelers will.