The hip-drop tackle last week that may have ended the season of Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews will provide NFL health and safety leaders and members of the league’s competition committee with another discussion point this offseason when they renew their deliberations about potentially banning that technique.

They already have suggested that they are likely to prohibit the hip-drop tackle if they can properly define it, citing an injury rate that is 25 times higher than the rate for other tackles.

Now the league and competition committee can consider a high-profile injury during a “Thursday Night Football” game that could have a significant impact on the Ravens’ chances for postseason success.

Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews (89) fights for more yards during the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals in Baltimore. last week. AP Photo/Nick Wass

Andrews made a catch on the Ravens’ opening touchdown drive during their 34-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and was running toward the goal line when he was tackled by linebacker Logan Wilson, who swung around as he grabbed Andrews around the waist and legs and then landed on the back of Andrews’s legs. Andrews reportedly suffered an injury to his fibula and ligament damage in his ankle. He is likely to miss the rest of the season, although Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters Monday there’s “an outside chance” Andrews could return.

Wilson’s tackle was legal and was not penalized. But league leaders, when they have talked about efforts to define the hip-drop tackle, have mentioned the elements of the tackler’s swinging motion and landing on the back of the ball carrier’s legs.

“It was definitely a hip-drop tackle … and it is being discussed,” Harbaugh said following the game. “It’s a tough tackle. Was it even necessary in that situation?”


Bengals coach Zac Taylor defended Wilson the following day.

“It’s kind of been brought to my attention, the narrative that’s out there right now, which I think is completely reckless,” Taylor said. “He plays the game the right way.”

The league and its competition committee discussed the possibility last offseason of banning the hip-drop tackle. That came after injuries suffered by Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Dallas Cowboys tailback Tony Pollard on such hits. But they took no action. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith suffered a knee injury on such a tackle earlier this season but returned to that game against the New York Giants.

The NFL Players Association said in March that it opposes a prohibition of hip-drop tackles, calling it “unfair to players and unrealistic to implement.” But the league and the competition committee seem intent upon acting.

Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy, said at the league meeting in October in New York: “It is an unforgiving behavior and one that we need to try to define and get out of the game.”

The Ravens will be without quarterback Lamar Jackson’s security-blanket receiver as they vie for AFC supremacy.


“That’s the guy who I entered the league with,” Jackson said after last Thursday’s game. “We’ve been bread and butter, peanut butter and jelly — whatever you want to call it. But that’s very tough because that’s my boy. That’s like receiver (number) one sometimes.”

It will be a busy offseason for the NFL’s rulemakers. They have said they will consider significant changes to the kickoff, and they will renew their discussions about prohibiting the push-the-quarterback sneak popularized by the Philadelphia Eagles.


The league and competition committee also might spend some time during the offseason looking at the dip in scoring.

There has been an average of 43.4 points scored per game this season. That’s down from 43.8 points last season. (It was 43.7 through Week 11 of last season.)

That’s not a major drop, and the league’s other leading metrics have remained strong. Games largely have been competitive and compelling. There were six final-play, game-winning field goals in Week 10 alone. And viewership has been strong, up about 6 percent from last season.


But league leaders watch the scoring average closely. The NFL and the competition committee have acted in the past when scoring has been sluggish, believing wide-open games with passing-centric offenses are attractive to fans. One favored tactic has been to have officials crack down on illegal contact in the secondary by defensive backs.

This season, a handful of teams have constructed dominant defenses. But there has also been a string of injuries to prominent quarterbacks. Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins, the New York Giants’ Daniel Jones, Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson and Indianapolis’ Anthony Richardson suffered season-ending injuries. The New York Jets initially called Aaron Rodgers’s torn Achilles’ tendon season-ending, although they and Rodgers subsequently left open the possibility of a late-season return.

Ten rookie quarterbacks have made starts. That includes two undrafted rookies, the Chicago Bears’ Tyson Bagent and the Giants’ Tommy DeVito.

Even so, the Miami Dolphins had a 70-point game. The top MVP contenders are, as usual, quarterbacks: Jackson, the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts, Mahomes, the Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa, the 49ers’ Brock Purdy and perhaps Houston Texans rookie C.J. Stroud.


The Bengals’ dwindling playoff hopes are in the hands of Jake Browning, who takes over as their quarterback after Burrow’s season was ended by a torn ligament in his right wrist, which probably will require surgery.


Browning is scheduled to make his first NFL start Sunday at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bengals have played in the past two AFC championship games. But this year they are 11th in the AFC at 5-5.

Browning entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie out of the University of Washington signed by the Vikings in 2019. He spent two seasons on the Vikings’ practice squad, then was waived before the 2021 season, and the Bengals signed him to their practice squad. He won a training-camp competition with Trevor Siemian this year for the backup job.

Browning took his first regular season snap in the opening game of this season. He completed 8 of 14 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown after taking over for Burrow late in the first half Thursday night in Baltimore.

“I thought there were some positive things for Jake,” Taylor said after the game. “That’s a tough defense he faced in his first NFL action. I was proud of the way that he went in there and led those guys.”


Entering this season, there was virtually no questioning that Southern Cal quarterback Caleb Williams would be the top selection in the 2024 draft, assuming he makes himself eligible as an underclassman.


And though Williams remains a solid favorite to be the No. 1 pick, there have been concerns during a disappointing follow-up year to his Heisman Trophy season.

Williams had another tremendous season statistically, throwing for 3,633 yards and 30 touchdowns with only five interceptions. And there were the usual breathtaking throws and highlight-reel, making-something-out-of-nothing plays. But USC struggled to a 7-5 record. Williams declined to speak to media members following Saturday’s loss to UCLA in what may have been his final college game.

It matters little, really, how a star college quarterback deals with the media. Williams clearly has the talent to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL, and that will be the main consideration for the teams that evaluate him.

But being the quarterback of an NFL team involves more than on-field considerations. It involves being the public face of a multibillion-dollar franchise. It involves being a leader of adults playing for their livelihoods. It involves demonstrating professionalism.

All of that comes into play, in at least a small way, when a player of Williams’s caliber does not stand before reporters following a tough game and take accountability for what just occurred.

It’s unlikely to change anything on draft day. But it is an issue Williams may have to address during the pre-draft process.



Talk of Rodgers’s return to the Jets’ lineup next month persists. And the Jets, with their play, continue to make all that conversation increasingly irrelevant.

There would be no good reason for Rodgers to return to a team out of realistic playoff contention. The Jets, at 4-6, moved a step closer to that status Sunday by losing to the Buffalo Bills, 32-6, in Orchard Park, New York.

Their offense actually scored a touchdown for a change. But quarterback Zach Wilson’s ongoing struggles led Coach Robert Saleh to bench him in favor of Tim Boyle.

Saleh announced Monday that Boyle will start Friday’s home game against the Dolphins. Another defeat could push the Jets even further toward the fringes of the playoff mix and would continue to increase the chances that Rodgers will not play another game until next season.



The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in quarterback Tom Brady’s final season, won the NFC South with an 8-9 record. The division is right back in its all-too-familiar doldrums this season.

The New Orleans Saints are in first place at 5-5. The Buccaneers lost Sunday to the 49ers to fall to 4-6, in a virtual tie with the Atlanta Falcons for second place. The Carolina Panthers have an NFL-worst mark of 1-9.

Last season’s Buccaneers became the fourth NFL team to win a division with a losing record. The Seahawks were 7-9 in 2010. The Panthers were 7-8-1 in 2014. Washington was 7-9 in 2020. No division has ever been won by a team with a losing record in back-to-back seasons.

NFL team owners have always been adamantly against any suggestion that a division winner with a losing record should forfeit its right to host an opening-round playoff game. But the NFC South is testing the dedication to that notion.


Sean Payton deserves considerable credit for the coaching job he has done to reassemble the Denver Broncos’ once-broken season. They have won four straight following a 1-5 start.


It would be difficult for an NFL team to look more overmatched than the Broncos did in their 70-20 defeat to the Dolphins on Sept. 24.

The ugly beginning raised the possibility that Payton’s first Broncos team would be even worse than last season’s version coached by Nathaniel Hackett, who went 4-11 before being fired in December. Payton famously derided Hackett during training camp by telling USA Today that Hackett had done one the worst coaching jobs in NFL history.

But Payton has stayed the course, and the Broncos have climbed back toward respectability.

Quarterback Russell Wilson is having a bounce-back season. Wide receiver Courtland Sutton has made breathtaking catches in crucial moments over the past two games. The defense is playing very well, although the league suspended safety Kareem Jackson on Monday for the second time this season for illegal hits.

The Broncos might not reach the playoffs. But Payton is showing why he was one of the league’s most successful coaches throughout his tenure with the Saints.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: