The Redskins announced that kicker John Hall will be placed on injured reserve with a torn quadricep, ending the kickers season. From a Washington Times article: "'You can't imagine [a kicker] having three different injuries,' (Joe) Gibbs lamented.
Hall, who missed just one game in his previous seven seasons with the New York Jets and the Redskins, actually suffered four injuries this year: a strained right hamstring in the opener against Tampa Bay, a strained left hamstring the next week, a pulled groin in practice Oct. 14 and the quadricep last Sunday against Philadelphia. "
Injuries have been cited as a big reason for the team's 4-9 record, but it's my impression that the Redskins haven't suffered substantially more injuries than the average NFL team. Let's look at the projected starters who have lost significant time this season:
- Jon Jansen--Lost for the season before the first snap was taken. Certainly the biggest loss in terms of time and talent. His replacement Ray Brown has been a great story--the oldest player ever to hold down a regular offensive line position--but his level is play isn't nearly up to Jansen's.
- Michael Barrow--He finally was placed on injured reserve a few weeks ago after being inactive the whole year. Obviously we don't know what he might have done on the field for the defense, but it's hard to imagine that he would have played significantly better than his replacement, Antonio Pierce.
- Lavar Arrington--Arrington has missed 10 games with a knee injury. Like Barrow, his injury wasn't supposed to keep him out for this long. Unlike Barrow, he is not on IR and might be active this Sunday, although he will not start; Lemar Marshall will keep his starting job. Like Brown, Marshall has been adequate but there is a considerable dropoff from the level of play from the player he's filling in for.
- Matt Bowen--He went on IR with a knee injury suffered against Baltimore in the fifth game of the season. Bowen was starting to thrive in Gregg Williams' blitzing, gambling defense. Again, his replacement, Ryan Clark, has been adequate.
- Phillip Daniels--After coming back from missing several games with a groin injury, Daniels broke his hand against the Giants and is gone for the year. Daniels replacements have been many, including Ryan Boschett and Demetric Evans. All of them, including Daniels, have been adequate, no more, no less.
You can put Hall and kick returner Chad Morton, who went on injured reserve with a knee injury after the Oct. 31 game against Green Bay, onto the list of starters who missed significant time. And then Randy Thomas for a game here, Cornelius Griffin for one there, Shawn Springs for the upcoming game. But that's it.
You'll notice that of the major injuries all but Jansen's happened on the defensive side of the ball. That defense has been the strength of the team all year. It's hard to imagine that the unit would have played significantly better with the missing parts in place. It's been the offense that has struggled.
If you look around the league I don't see how you can call that a rash of injuries. The Giants have 14 players, including all but one of their starting defensive linemen and their number three and four wide receiver, on IR. Carolina lost Steve Smith and Stephen Davis, their top wideout and running back, in the early going. The Eagles lost Correll Buckhalter and others during the preseason and played most of their game against Washington without three of their four starting defensive linemen. New England is so ravaged at defensive back that one of its wide receivers, Troy Brown, is tied for the team lead in interceptions.
There have been some looking-towards-next-year articles written by beat writers over the last few weeks that have said that one reason to expect improvement in 2005 is because the horrible luck the Redskins have had in the injury department is bound to get better. To be sure, there are many reasons for optimism for the future, but the Redskins should expect to deal with the same level of injury issues that they did this year since it was about average in terms of number and impact.