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Monday, October 21, 2013

Bloody Sunday

NFL Football is a brutal, bloody, violent game. Injuries are as much a part of the game as the game itself, more so than any other team sport. Yesterday, however, offered an extended buffet of carnage sure to impact to direction of the seasons of those key players’ teams.


Indianapolis Colts

Reggie Wayne, WR: ACL tear, out for the season
The 13 year veteran, potential future Hall of Famer, and Colts leading receiver injured his knee in a non-contact incident late in Sunday night’s game against the Denver Broncos. His reliability is going to be sorely missed by quarterback Andrew Luck and his leadership and veteran presence will be sorely missed by the entire team. With the Colts pulling away in the AFC South race, the true impact of this loss may not be felt until the playoffs.

Green Bay Packers

Jermichael Finley, TE: Neck injury, in ICU
Finley had to be taken off of the field on a stretcher in Sunday’s game at the Cleveland Browns. While the measures taken in Finley’s care have been described as “precautionary” and Finley reportedly has movement in his extremities, the bone-chilling fact is that he is in ICU. It’s serious. With this type of injury, there is no telling if he is out for the month, the season, or the rest of his career. From a football standpoint, QB Aaron Rodgers is losing a very important safety valve on an offense that has to score a lot of points to win.

St. Louis Rams

Sam Bradford, QB: ACL tear, out for the season

There are a multitude of short and long term implications from this injury, suffered in yesterday’s game against the Carolina Panthers. First of all, the Rams’ 2013 season is over. Off to a 3-3 start, an improved St. Louis team appeared to be taking another baby step toward being a contender this season. That’s over. Backup QB Kellen Clemens was brought in as a stop gap in case of a short term injury to Bradford. The eight year veteran will need to do much more than exceed low expectations for the Rams to have any postseason hopes.

Second, Bradford was already in an evaluation season. He has shown flashes of high-performing potential since being taken with the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, but has been inconsistent in his on-field execution and has been often injured. This is the second time in Bradford’s four year NFL career in which he will play in 10 or fewer games. This could not have happened at a worse time for Bradford or the Rams, who both have a specter of uncertainty over their futures.

Has Bradford played his last game as a member of the Rams? 3

Cincinnati Bengals

Leon Hall, CB: Achilles rupture, out for the season
This is a tough break for a talented, experienced and reliable starter on a top 10 defense. Hall ruptured his Achilles in the Bengals win yesterday at the Detroit Lions. Still, the Bengals may be able to absorb this blow and continue to perform at a high level. Hall’s most likely replacements are the physically gifted standout Pacman Jones and 2012 first round draft pick Dre Kirkpatrick. In a next man up league, the Bengals secondary appears prepared and stocked.

Houston Texans

Brian Cushing, LB: Broken leg and LCL tear, out for the season
If the Houston Texans’ season hadn’t already been dealt a death blow in last week’s blowout loss against the St. Louis Rams in which their unpopular, struggling starting quarterback was injured and their record plummeted to 2-4, losing the former Pro Bowler Cushing in a 17-16 loss at Kansas City could be the last straw. While the Texans signal calling woes have been glaring, they quietly have the #1 defense in the NFL (total yards/game). This was all the Texans had going for them and now they’ve lost the second most important cog, after J.J. Watt, in their defensive machine.  

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Doug Martin, RB: Torn Labrum, probably out for the season
The winless Buccaneers had very little going for them. Martin was one of those few bright standouts until yesterday’s loss at the Atlanta Falcons. The Buccaneers and the intrastate Jacksonville Jaguars are likely to have a photo finish in the race to the NFL’s bottom.

Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler, QB:, Groin injury, out indefinitely
Cutler’s image as that of a chronic underachiever with deficient interpersonal skills was turning around this season. Cutler was injured in yesterday’s 45-41 shootout loss at the Washington Redskins. Backup Josh McCown is a seasoned veteran game manager who, with Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte in the Bears' backfield, can hold an offense together well enough to give most teams a chance to win in the short run. The problem is that the Bears' defense has not gotten the job done this year well enough for the Bears to win with McCown under center.

From preliminary reports, Cutler is expected to miss several weeks. Fortunately, one of those weeks is a bye week, next week. By the time Cutler returns, the Bears may have fallen too far behind the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions in the tight NFC North race.

Lance Briggs, LB: Shoulder injury, out four to six weeks

An already struggling Bears defense can ill-afford to lose a perennial All-Pro veteran leader on defense. That’s exactly what happened during yesterday’s Bears loss in Washington. How long Briggs is out and how much farther the Bears fall back in the NFC North race will determine how damaging this injury will be to the Bears’ season.

Jay Cutler's wife, and new mom, Kristin Cavallari, has one more Cutler to babysit for the next few weeks. 4

Philadelphia Eagles

Nick Foles, QB: Concussion, questionable

While the cynical spectator may contend that the injury to Foles was the best way to help his team following an abysmal performance in a loss against the Dallas Cowboys, Foles is a clear step up over rookie Matt Barkley. This injury may have a negligible short term impact as starter Michael Vick appears to be close to returning to the Eagles lineup for a hamstring injury.

Still, hamstrings are tricky and, for a QB like Vick who relies on his mobility, nothing is guaranteed. If neither Vick nor Foles are ready to go for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, the Eagles and their Swiss cheese pass defense have a problem. The NFC East race, while uninspiring, is very close and a division loss at the hands of the currently winless New York Giants would be the last thing Head Coach Chip Kelly and his Eagles need.

Vick can't get back soon enough for the Eagles. 5

It was a cold, harsh, rough day in the NFL. Eight teams lost key players yesterday. Many of those players are lost for the season. There are only 32 NFL teams, meaning a quarter of the league suffered a potentially season-altering loss. Football is a rough game. The true grit and toughness of these teams, their players, and coaches will show in the second half of the season.

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