Redskins: Injuries, not coaches, have ruined the team’s season
By Ian Cummings
It feels like we make excuses like this every year. And I wouldn’t take a bet on a 2018 playoff run to the bank. But the Redskins the have pieces to build a bright future. Those pieces simply haven’t been available.
It’s taken years up to this point, and the time has not come yet. But everything in this league is a process, and as disappointing and tumultuous as this season has been, the Redskins are closer than most teams to contention.
When healthy, this team was already a contender. They competed week in and week out, giving the stalwart Eagles and the red-hot Chiefs their toughest fights, and they handled Sean McVay’s Rams in Los Angeles with near ease. They started out 2-2, and everyone knew that record didn’t accurately reflect the talent that this team possessed. Many analysts had the Redskins pegged as a likely wild card candidate.
And then the injuries came.
The first wave was harmful enough. Phil Taylor, Keith Marshall, Trent Murphy, and Su’a Cravens were all lost to injury-related circumstances before the start of the season. Then just a few games later, Jonathan Allen was lost for the season. Montae Nicholson’s woes began. Mason Foster was placed on injured reserve. Impact players were lost in the blink of an eye.
And the bad fortune did not relent. Here is the list of all the additional Redskins’ players, other than those previously listed, who will not be playing next week: Chris Carter, T.J. Clemmings, Will Compton, Arthur Jones, Robert Kelley, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Byron Marshall, Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Reed, Chris Thompson, now Zach Brown, and possibly Trent Williams. Questionable players include Terrell McClain, Maurice Harris, Morgan Moses, Josh Norman, Chase Roullier, Ryan Grant, and Ryan Anderson.
It doesn’t really matter if I missed anyone, at this point. Those are far too many injuries for any team to remain competitive. These aren’t just starters. There are backups, and even third string players that aren’t available for the Redskins. All playoff teams need adequate depth, and the Redskins literally can’t have that, because of the injuries they’ve faced.
Coaching is not to blame. Perhaps the trainers, to some extent, but it’s nearly impossible to prepare for a red-hot Chargers’ team when so many players are unavailable or far below one hundred percent. The team has been demolished by injuries. Unequivocally pulverized to the highest degree. There’s no way to win like that. Only to brace for the storm.
So what can we do to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen next year? A thorough evaluation of the training staff is a foremost concern. The relegation of Mason Foster to injured reserve was met with some confusion and criticism, and most recently, new details have emerged about the misdiagnosing and mishandling of an apparent concussion suffered by Su’a Cravens, one that contributed to his decision to take a hiatus from football.
When injuries happen, they cannot be reversed. But how a team’s trainers react and deal with that injury can go a long way toward either curing it faster or prolonging it. If the Redskins think they can do better in that area, then they must (but with Bruce Allen at the helm, any positive change at all seems to be wishful thinking at best).
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It’s a shame, really. With a healthy season, we could have been given an accurate view of where the Redskins are in their progression. We could have seen whether they were ready to make the leap or not. But now, it seems we’ll have to wait another year. Is Jay Gruden to blame for such poor luck? The injuries say no, vehemently and distinctively. But bloodthirsty fans, and a president looking for a scapegoat, might have different plans.