The NFL and NFL Player Association will be revisiting the “Tush Push” play, per a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
According to the league official, the NFL and Players Association will be studying the injury rates associated with the play after two New York Giants were injured on a failed QB sneak last week. Those Giants, center John Michael Schmitz and tight end Daniel Bellinger, suffered shoulder and knee injuries, respectively.
The “Tush Push” or “Brotherly Shove” (as Schefter terms it), is a variation on the quarterback sneak that sees two players line up behind the quarterback and literally push his tush to help advance the ball. The use of offensive players to shove the quarterback forward in a QB sneak was legalized in the NFL back in 2005. The league legalized the play after years of officials simply not flagging the play, according to Dean Blandino (speaking to the 33rd Team in February of 2023).
“The officials weren’t being directed to call it, so they stopped calling it. Unfortunately, the rulebook was changed to accommodate the way the game was being officiated rather than the other way around.’’
“It amounts to a rugby scrum,” Blandino said. “The NFL wants to showcase the athleticism and skill of our athletes. This is just not a skillful play. This is just a tactic that is not an aesthetically pleasing play, and I think the competition committee is going to take a look at it.’’
It might not be pretty, but is it dangerous? The crush of bodies and the Giants’ injuries suggest that it is. On the flip side, there’s very little kinetic component to the play, such as with violent helmet-to-helmet contact or a horse collar tackle.
From an NFL front office source speaking to Dianna Russini:
“What people fail to realize about the tush push play is that teams aren’t required to use it. There is injury risk to the QB on all QB sneak plays and certainly the interior lineman. No injuries last year, but 2 NYG injured a week ago. Some teams sneak, some don’t.”
Really, there doesn’t seem to be any concrete data on injury rates associated with the play.
Patrick Mahomes suffered a dislocated kneecap on a quarterback sneak in 2019, but at the time Andy Reid said, “Not too many people get hurt on sneaks. It’s a freak thing. It happens.” Afterward, Warren Sharp noted that Mahomes would have been more likely to be injured when dropping back to pass.
Rich McKay, the NFL Competition Committee chairman, said that there’s “no injury data regarding it,” this past March.
So anecdotally, we have little evidence of the play being dangerous — though it seems like it could be — and little actual data on the subject. We’ll have to wait and see what the NFL and NFL PA actually conclude in their study of the play’s safety across an entire season.