New Helmet Coming for QBs, Designed to Prevent Tua-Like Concussions
April 13, 2023
The 2022 NFL season will be remembered for many things, but what stands at or near the top will be the concussion issues of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
In particular, there was the scary scene in the Thursday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals that included Tagovailoa being taken off the field by ambulance.
It was the kind of scene the NFL obviously doesn’t ever want to see again, and an important step in making that a reality happened Thursday with the news of a new helmet being approved for quarterbacks.
The helmet, made by VICIS, is the first designed especially for quarterbacks and it comes just months after the end of the 2022 season, which saw the number of diagnosed concussions rise by 18% league-wide, with much of the rise attributed to a spike in concussions suffered by quarterbacks.
The Zero2 Matrix QB helmet has already undergone lab testing that simulated concussion-causing impacts sustained by quarterbacks, the league told teams in a memo.
The NFL and NFLPA already have approved the new helmet, according to Pro Football Talk.
“The thing that distinguishes quarterbacks and their concussions is they have a disproportionate number of head-to-ground impacts that cause concussions,” Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy, told NFL.com. “This past year we had an increase in the number of quarterback concussions, and it was the same helmet-to-ground dynamic. Many people would say it’s because quarterbacks are scrambling more often, but we didn’t see that. It was still the quarterback in the pocket, getting hit and the head hitting the ground as they were holding on to the ball.”
Along with the injury at Cincinnati, Tagovailoa also sustained a concussion in the Christmas Day game against the Green Bay Packers, again as the result of his head hitting the ground while being tackled.
The addition of a QB-specific helmet follows the introduction in the 2021 season of an offensive and defensive linemen-specific helmet. Two OL and DL-specific helmets now top the 2023 NFL-NFLPA helmet rankings.
KEEPING TUA AWAY FROM CONCUSSIONS
While the idea is that the new helmet would diminish the severity of concussions, the question is whether they can help entirely eliminate those that come as a result of those head-to-ground collisions like Tua had.
Of course, nobody wants to see the new helmets being put to the test in that fashion, and this is where Tagovailoa needs to do his part.
Specifically, he needs to learn when to give up on a play — or start being willing to do it since he probably already knows what he’s supposed to do.
For all the talk about the Dolphins offensive line and the need to protect Tua, clearly valid for sure, the two major injuries he sustained last year came as a result of him hanging on to the ball too long after getting outstanding pass protection.
Those were injuries that easily could have been avoided, regardless of the type of helmet, had Tua simply chucked the ball away — especially since the injury at Cincinnati came on second down and the one against Green Bay came on first down.