Redskins have been lucky on the injury front
For all the Redskins problems this season, one area where they’ve been pretty lucky is the injury department (knock on wood). After a season last year that saw multiple starters on both sides of the ball go down with significant injuries the Redskins have been pretty injury free, especially among starters and top players.
Last year the offense saw wide receiver Pierre Garcon miss six games and be ineffective for 2-3 more as he dealt with a foot injury. Tight end Fred Davis missed the 10 games due to an Achilles injury, and top back-up running back Roy Helu Jr. went on IR early in the season with a foot injury. Those are three significant players, who the team was out for most of the season from their offense. This far this year the worst you can say on offense is that star rookie tight end Jordan Reed missed the Raiders game with an injury. Back-up offensive lineman Maurice Hurt has been on the PUP list all year, but he is definitely not a starter and may have been beaten out by guys like Adam Gettis and Tom Compton. Outside of the that the closest thing to an injury on offense is Fred Davis being inactive for a game due to an ankle sprain, but his play is way down this year and he’s really no better than 4th on the depth chart.
Defensively the team has suffered some back-up losses, but really hasn’t missed a starter for more than a game. Some may point to defensive end Adam Carriker as being a starter, which he was last year when he went down with an injury. But this season he was likely to be a back-up to Jarvis Jenkins. Also, the team has known about his injury setback and lack of availability for this season since back in March. Others who went down in the preseason include back-ups ILB Keenan Robinson, S Phillip Thomas and CB Richard Crawford. Of those three Thomas is the only one who may have seen regular time, given how weak the safeties have been, but he definitely wasn’t a starter. Back-up inside linebacker Bryan Kehl went down with a season ending injury in the Cowboys game. Back-up nose tackle Chris Neild has been dealing with a calf injury the past couple of weeks, but he’s also a guy who’s inactive most weeks so it’s not that big of a loss. The interesting injury to watch going forward is Stephen Bowen, who is playing with a torn ligament in his knee. Right now he’s set to play, but that could change if the pain is too much. Beyond those injuries to back-ups the worst the Redskins have had is both Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty miss one game a piece due to injury.
Though it sounds like a lot of losses on defense, it really isn’t in the grand scheme of things. Combined between the offense and defense we are talking about just three full games missed by starters or significant contributors. That is extremely impressive (and lucky) so far, and well below what most teams are dealing with. It also gives less cause as to why this team is 2-5. If the Redskins were riddled with injuries maybe that could explain the slow start, but really they’ve been pretty healthy. By far they’ve been the healthiest team in their division, especially in terms of impact. The Giants have lost their three top running backs to start the season, their best safety and multiple offensive linemen (among others) to injury so far. The Eagles have been without wide receiver Jeremy Maclin for the entire year and Michael Vick has been injury early in two games, missed two other ones and could miss the next couple of weeks. The Cowboys have been without Anthony Spencer for the year, and DeMarcus Ware and DeMarco Murray have been out the past two weeks and could miss the next week or two as well. The Redskins don’t have anything comparable to that, yet they are still struggling.
Now some might point to the impact of last year’s injuries affecting this year’s performance. Between Carriker’s set back, Fred Davis’s disappearing act and Robert Griffin III struggling to start the year this is a factor, but it’s also something that isn’t exclusive to the Redskins at all. With Carriker that was again known about long ago, and Davis was a huge risk when the Redskins signed him. Griffin is really the only injury that is maybe a bit of a surprise. I think most thought the injury would impact him somewhat, and he’d maybe have some “rust”. But I don’t think many thought he’d be taking the steps back that he did, or we’d still be talking about “rust” this late into the season.
The scary thing for the Redskins going forward though is it’s unlikely they can maintain this level of health (or luck) going forward. If the Redskins are struggling this bad now, what happens when a key player or two go down with an injury for a couple weeks (or even worse rest of the year)? How this team responds to injuries will be interesting to see, and could show who deserves to be back in 2014.