With his teammate James Harrison receiving media criticism all week for the hard hits he made in the Steelers' Week Six win over the Browns, Pittsburgh WR Hines Ward said some blame for the recent rise in helmet-to-helmet hits should be placed on quarterbacks.
Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette talked to Ward about the recent attention paid toward physical play, and the receiver told him that it's not only defensive players who are at fault for the hard hits.
"It's funny, I was talking to (Browns WR Mohamed) Massaquoi about quarterbacks pregame," Ward said. "I told him it's rough playing with three different quarterbacks. It's especially tough playing with a rookie. If he considers you his go-to guy, he's going to watch you run your route the whole way. That's what happened on that play when (Massaquoi) was hit. (Browns rookie QB Colt McCoy) followed him with his eyes the whole way. James (Harrison) saw that and knew that pass was coming."
On the other big play of the weekend, Falcons CB Dunta Robinson's collision with Eagles WR DeSean Jackson, Ward said: "His quarterback (Kevin Kolb) didn't see the cornerback there and led him right into him. What was (Robinson) supposed to do? He led with his shoulder. That's a good football play. If he tackles him low, he blows out his knees and ends his career. Is that what the league's trying to tell us it wants?"
The way we see it
While it is uncommon that a wide receiver would call out quarterbacks, Ward is defending his teammate and making a valid point. While it is easy to blame Harrison and Robinson for their tough tackles, the receiver is saying they are just doing what they've been instructed to do. As long as quarterbacks try to fit passes into tight spaces between defenders, receivers are going to be on the wrong end of crushing hits.