Bridgewater was put into the protocol after the booth ATC spotter ruled him a “no-go” after he took a hit on Dolphins’ opening offensive drive, in compliance with the NFL’s amended concussion protocol. Bridgewater passed his concussion evaluation, according to a source, but the booth ATC spotter believed he saw Bridgewater stumble and triggered the new ataxia addition to the “no-go” symptoms in the protocol.
The Dolphins said that Bridgewater also had an elbow injury.
Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead also has been ruled out for the rest of the game after aggravating a toe injury that had him listed as questionable for Sunday’s contest.
Bridgewater was hit while attempting a pass on the Dolphins’ first offensive play of the game, when Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner got to him unblocked. The pass fell incomplete but was ruled intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a safety. Bridgewater was quickly taken to the medical tent before being escorted to the locker room by an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant for a concussion evaluation.
He was ruled out after roughly 40 minutes in the locker room. Rookie seventh-round pick Skylar Thompson is the only quarterback remaining on the Dolphins’ active roster.
Bridgewater was making his first start of the season in place of Tua Tagovailoa, who is in the concussion protocol after sustaining a concussion during Miami’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4. The Dolphins have not publicly established a timetable for Tagovailoa’s return, but he did not travel to New York with the team and was not placed on injured reserve.
Wide receiver Cedrick Wilson is the Dolphins’ emergency quarterback.
The NFL recently amended its concussion protocol after a nearly two-week-long joint investigation with the NFL Players Association into the application of the protocol following an incident involving Tagovailoa. During the Dolphins’ game against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 25, Tagovailoa hit his head on the ground and stumbled while trying to return to the huddle. The stumble was considered a display of gross motor instability, which is one of the protocol’s “no-go” symptoms that require a player be removed from a game without the possibility of returning.
Tagovailoa was immediately taken to the locker room for a concussion evaluation, but he informed both the team physician and the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant jointly hired by the NFL and the NFLPA that a back and ankle injury caused him to stumble; the joint investigation found that Tagovailoa had previously reported both injuries before hitting his head on the ground.
Once it was determined that his observed instability was not neurologically caused, Tagovailoa passed his evaluation and was allowed to return to the game. However, neither the team physician nor the neurotrauma consultant examined his back during the evaluation, “but instead relied on the earlier examination conducted by other members of the medical staff.” The NFLPA exercised its right to terminate the neurotrauma consultant who performed Tagovailoa’s initial evaluation after the union found he made “several mistakes” during the process, beyond following the step-by-step process of the protocol, multiple sources told ESPN.
Both parties agreed Saturday to amend the protocol, adding ataxia to the list of “no-go” symptoms. The changes were implemented immediately before Sunday’s games began.
“‘Ataxia’ is defined as abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue,” the NFL and NFLPA said in a joint statement. “In other words, if a player is diagnosed with ‘ataxia’ by any club or neutral physician involved in the application of the concussion protocol, he will be prohibited from returning to the game, and will receive the follow-up care required by the protocol.”