For decades it seems that we have been spoon fed that injuries are no excuse for a team’s losses during any particular NFL season. Sometimes that statement holds true, but there is a big difference between a couple of injuries here and there, and the epidemic that has hit the Steelers over the last four seasons. Last season the Steelers were able to persevere through a rash of injuries to the point that they almost advanced to the AFC title game, but the rash of injuries this season is affecting the Steelers in a much different fashion. At what point does losing due to injuries transcend from excuse to the truth? Mike Tomlin says that every backup is expected to come in and maintain the standard with enough preparation, which is true, because the other starters around him can help pick up the slack. But what happens when it becomes multiple starters on both sides of the ball that are out injured?
To compound things further, what happens when the backup is out injured? There is no logical way to expect a third stringer to maintain the standard, especially when there are multiple backups filling in at other positions around him already. This is the position that the Steelers find themselves in at the moment, yet, somehow Mike Tomlin’s coaching abilities against inferior teams is being called into question, despite the fact that he currently has the highest winning percentage for a head coach in Steelers history. It’s hard to be a good coach when a chunk of your talent is injured on the sidelines.
Players who have or will lose playing time to injuries:
Bud DuPree – LB, Ryan Shazier – LB, Lawrence Timmons- LB, Anthony Chickillo – LB, Cam Hayward -DE, Robert Golden – S, Sean Davis – S, Shamarko Thomas – S
Maurkice Pouncey – C, Cody Wallace – C, Marcus Gilbert – T, Markus Wheaton – WR, Eli Rogers – WR, Sammie Coates – WR, Ben Roethlisberger – QB,
*Mike Mitchell, Vince Williams, and Stephon Tuitt all were injured during the Dolphins game but hope to be available against New England*
This injury list is substantial considering the NFL season is only 6 games old, and would still be so if it was over the course of an entire season. It doesn’t matter how talented the Steelers are, they can only realistically absorb so many injuries before it affects the on field results. When injuries hit the positions of strength on both sides of the ball like they have, it kills momentum quickly. So why have the Steelers been hit so hard with injuries over the last few years? Is it a conditioning/fatigue issue, or from the physical nature of their practices as Ben Roethlisberger suggested last week? There is absolutely nothing that can be done about some injuries, they’re part of the game, but it’s not inconceivable to think that the Steelers staff could umintentionally be bringing a lot of these injuries on themselves as a result of the way they go about their business.
It can’t be a coincidence that they have been one of the few teams hit hardest by injury over the last four years. Despite the immense talent the Steelers have on their roster, if they can’t keep that talent on the field, their chances of winning another Lombardi Trophy are about as good as that of a one-legged man winning an ass kicking contest. The silver lining to their injury situation is that young guys like Jordan Dangerfield, Tyler Matakevich, L.J. Fort, and Sean Davis are getting valuable game experience. It appears that key personnel are getting healthy though, just in time for their bye week following the New England game. With two weeks off and a little luck, maybe the Steelers will get their other leg back in time for their trip to Baltimore, where they can start to do some of their own ass kicking, on a regular basis, again.