Tom Brady failed to protect himself after becoming a defender on Thursday night

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Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady recently said that offensive players have an obligation to protect themselves. On Thursday night, Brady did not protect himself after becoming a defensive player.

Following one of the interceptions he threw against the Cowboys, Brady threw a shoulder into the chest of safety Donovan Wilson near the end of the play.

Based on his reaction, Wilson wasn’t happy. Brady surely wouldn’t have been happy if Wilson had exercised his prerogative to blow Brady up.

And Wilson could have done it. If a quarterback decides to stick his nose into the fray after a turnover, he becomes fair game to be hit aggressively.

The fact that defensive players are wired to not hit the quarterback gives them broad freedom to do things like drop a shoulder or, as we’ve seen in the past, feign going out of bounds when running the ball and then taking a few extra yards after the defender pulls up.

That’s why people like Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler will say that, when the quarterback becomes a running back, he’ll get treated like a running back. It’s a license to treat the quarterback like something other than a quarterback when the quarterback becomes a runner.

Even then, plenty of defenders remain hesitant, given the perception/reality that certain players (like Brady) get extra protection. Indeed, what would have happened if Wilson or some other defender had flattened Brady? Would a flag have been thrown? Would Brady have complained to the officials if a flag wasn’t thrown?

At some point, some defensive player will treat a quarterback who became a runner or a potential tackler accordingly. When it happens, the quarterback will have no basis to object.

Tom Brady failed to protect himself after becoming a defender on Thursday night originally appeared on Pro Football Talk