The injury bug has already hit a number of teams hard in preseason action. The Buffalo Bills, for example, were hoping to roll out a premier, high-octane offense to kick off the 2013 campaign, but instead they may be rolling out an undrafted rookie quarterback to run their offense against the New England Patriots.
They’re not the only team to be hit hard by injuries, especially at the league’s most important position. The Jets attempted to run a wide-open quarterback competition, but injury kept Geno Smith off the field, and now, an injury is keeping Mark Sanchez off the field, meaning the Jets have little choice but to start Smith, even though he’s clearly not ready for the role of starting NFL quarterback.
Similarly, the Jaguars attempted to run an open competition for the starting quarterback position, and on the same night that Blaine Gabbert claimed the top spot, he broke a bone in his thumb, sidelining him until the opening week of the regular season.
Injuries are nothing new in the NFL, and they destroy at least one team’s season every year. When Tom Brady injured his knee in practice earlier in the preseason calendar, the whole football world held its breath. With Brady, the Patriots are a playoff team. Without him, they’re probably picking near the top of the draft.
Preseason football is about two things. Analyzing the roster, especially the backups, and simply surviving. The latter of the two has proven difficult for a number of teams so far, and injuries can change the dynamic of an entire team.
So, when teams kick off the regular season this weekend, keep this in mind. One hit on one important player can change an entire team’s fate. When Robert Griffin III takes his first hit this season, we’ll all be watching. Every time Peyton Manning takes a big hit, yeah, we’re watching. Injuries aren’t exclusive to the quarterback position either. When Adrian Peterson takes a low hit, you can bet I’m watching.
Injuries happen every year at every level of football, or really any level of any other sport for that matter, and they make predicting NFL games next to impossible. While we’ll continue to write lists about the best and worst teams in the league, keep the fact that we can’t predict injuries in the back of your mind, because in the coming weeks, injuries will pile up, and at least one team will be taken out of contention due to a big-name injury.