Living in this world is much easier when there’s a convenient excuse and/or explanation for unfavorable events. We like to believe there’s some kind of natural order and destiny to the Earth’s orbit, and that all actions can be tied to logic and science.
Most of all, we’re programmed to create easy narratives based on wide-ranging fallacies, a pastime that will never, ever die.
Answer this, narrative creators: why are important players busting muscles, tendons, and other important body parts during an offseason that’s a real offseason, and hasn’t been dramatically altered or shortened by a soul crushing lockout?
First it was Jason Peters and Terrell Suggs tearing their Achilles tendons apart. Now today Buccaneers defensive end Da’Quan Bowers has joined the latest Achilles busting craze sweeping the nation, along with Browns defensive tackle and 2011 first-round pick Phil Taylor, who possibly tore his pectoral muscle. That’s four major injuries that will result in major absences. And it’s May.
There’s a simple answer that explains why there’s been a recent run of injuries, but the problem is that it’s far too simple, and it borders on being insulting. So brace yourselves.
Football is an extremely physical game, and the preparation required just to participate in such a strenuous and exhausting endeavor is also incredibly taxing. In fact, it can easily be argued that the preparation happening now around practice fields and weight rooms is more labor-intensive than the week-to-week grind of a regular season. This is when those building blocks for success are put into place through strength training, whereas practice during the regular season often revolves around installing a game plan through repetition and muscle memory.
Both of the injuries today will be lengthy and they’ll have a significant impact, although Taylor is in a better position and could be out for four-to-six months, setting up a mid-season return. He suffered his injury during a workout that was part of the Browns’ offseason training program, and he’ll have an MRI to see if it is indeed a torn pectoral. It’s the same injury that knocked Mario Williams out last year, and sidelined Taylor’s teammate D’Qwell Jackson for all of 2010.
Taylor was the Browns’ 21st overall pick last spring following the Julio Jones trade. He’s therefore a significant piece of that deal, and is important in Cleveland’s attempt to win the trade, if winning trades is still a thing. He had four sacks last year, and was vital as a run-stuffing presence.
Even with Taylor’s big-bodied, athletic frame up front, the Browns still allowed 147.4 rushing yards per game (30th). Luckily, Cleveland drafted another defensive tackle early two weeks ago, and third-round pick John Hughes will have to slide in and assume a greater role, even if he’s not ready.
Bowers, meanwhile, is almost certainly gone for the 2012 season, and he’s leaving behind a defensive front that was painfully feeble last year with just 23 sacks. Despite his wizardry elsewhere on the roster with the additions of Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, and Eric Wright, Bucs GM Mark Dominick didn’t address his defensive front through either the draft or free agency, and was counting on the continued maturation of both Bowers and 2011 first rounder Adrian Clayborn.
Plans can change quickly in NFL front offices. Even in May.