I’d say that the Buffalo Rumblings community is one of the most logical, thoughtful, down-to-earth internet forums out there. Yet sometimes I think even our image of reality can become distorted when we give way to “groupthink” and blind optimism.
Such is the case, I believe, with how we’ve been using injuries as an excuse for our team’s failures. (By the way, here’s Brian’s post with a list of Bills players put on IR.)
While I am not suggesting that injuries didn’t harm us, I think we are grossly exaggerating their influence. And I think blaming our terrible season on injuries is merely a way for us to make "the best out of a bad situation." Perhaps because we don’t want to come to terms with the quality of our coaching, training, and personnel, we instead blame our troubles on “bad luck,” and hope that we’ll get this thing turned around next year with a full and healthy roster. And while I, too, wish to remain hopeful, I guess I’m troubled that this excuse has become so widespread.
Anyway, I really don’t think injuries are to blame. A few reasons why:
1. To suffer from injuries is to be unlucky with injuries. Indianapolis was unlucky that Manning had neck problems, as was Kansas City with two of their superstars (Berry/Charles) going down early. For us, it wasn’t about “luck” because most of our injured players ARE ALWAYS INJURED. McGee, Merriman, Bell, Troup, Easley and Parrish all practically live in the hospital. Each of them, lately, has probably spent more time on hospital beds than on Sunday football fields. Sadly, I don't even think I'm exaggerating. When you have a roster fraught with injury prone players, it seems silly to scold the sky for events that seem completely random when they are in fact part of an established pattern.
2. We still had players in key positions. Yes, we lost Lindell. Yes, we lost Donald Jones. Yes, we lost Lee Smith. That said, we always did have the most important pieces of the puzzle in place. For the entire season, we had a healthy #1 QB and #1 WR. And when our #1 RB went down, it wasn’t like we had just some bum off the streets to replace him; Spiller proved more than competent. Yes, we took some shots to the arm and leg, but our vitals—the heart, head, and crotch—went pretty much unscathed.
3. What about Wood? Our left tackle problems? Did you hear that Stevie said he was hurt all year long? Didn’t we lead the league with players placed on IR? Okay, okay. Yes, we lost our best defender (Williams) and our best offensive weapon (Jackson). Our demise, though, had little to do with these injuries. Kyle seemed to be hurt from Day 1, and we began losing loads of games with Jackson and Wood IN the lineup.Every team has injury problems. Occasionally, every team has to patch together an offensive line with scrapheap. And yes, while Stevie played hurt, I’m sure 100% of the NFL players were playing hurt by the end of the year, too. I’m sure, by year’s end, Calvin Johnson and Ray Lewis weren’t spending their off hours synchronized swimming with pristinely acheless and bruiseless bodies.
To restate my position: Injuries were definitely a part of our suckitude, but I would argue, vehemently, that they were not the main cause. We lost, rather, because some of the coaching stunk, some of our players stunk (or are still developing), and—in the simplest terms—the other teams were just better.