Hill Street Blues is my all-time favorite cop show. Wish I could find it on reruns somewhere.
The opening scene of most episodes was a roll call in the police precinct, ended by the plea of Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, who would shout down his exiting officers, “Hey, hey! Remember. Let’s be careful out there.”
Where is Sgt. Esterhaus when the NFL needs him? The Buffalo-Cleveland game Thursday night became a battle of second-team quarterbacks when both starters were knocked out of the game on plays in which they scrambled and decided not to get out of bounds or slide to safety, all in the name of a few extra yards.
Cleveland starter Brian Hoyer was blasted by Buffalo linebacker Kiko Alonso, but you can’t blame Alonso. Hoyer tried to get down, but too late. He was straining for a few extra yards on a relatively meaningless play, a 2nd-and-9 on Cleveland’s second possession. Hoyer made 11 yards on the play. So maybe if he had slid earlier, he would have been a yard or two shy of the first down. But that first down cost the Browns their starting quarterback and Hoyer perhaps his season.
In the second quarter, Buffalo rookie E.J. Manuel impressively zipped to big yardage on 3rd-and-8 in Cleveland territory. Manuel passed the first-down marker but kept dancing down the sideline, in bounds, to make extra yardage. So Brown safety Tashaun Gipson knocked Manuel out of bounds with a hard, but legal, blow to Manuel’s thigh. Out went Manuel.
Cleveland eventually won 37-24, with Brandon Weeden, who had lost his job to Hoyer, directing the Browns to victory.
But the lesson is clear. Don’t get greedy, quarterbacks. A first down is not worth an injury. Not in an October game. Not in the first half of an October. Extra yardage is not worth the loss of a quarterback.
NFL rules go out of their way to protect quarterbacks. But the NFL can’t put a hedge around quarterbacks. If a quarterback is going to turn ballcarrier, the league has to allow him to be tackled. Tackling in the NFL means hard and heavy hits.
But you can’t legislate against greed. Quarterbacks, let’s be careful out there.