Buffalo Bills: Injury bug or is it just 2020?

Bills vs Chiefs:

Week six is over. The Bills are 4-2 (thanks to Josh Allen and the offense),  but these past two weeks have been both infuriating and deflating, and yes, I am still upset. Since the second half of week one, the defense has been pretty much non-existent. Will the defense get an interception ever again? (Of course, but it feels like an eternity since the last one.) “Gotta watch the tape. Get back to fundamentals. Remain mentally tough. Gotta be resilient. Every man is 1/11th and needs to do their job.” Blah, blah, blah, we’ve heard it all before. This team is not playing like themselves right now. Since when is this defense one to make stupid mental mistakes like multiple offside penalties against the Titans, or multiple late hits out of bounds against the Chiefs. Get it together, and figure it out, and we’ll be okay. If not, well, the offense better get back to the high scoring juggernaut it was the first four games of the season. However, can we do both?

Injury Bug?

I want to focus this week’s blog on the so-called “injury bug”, as it sure looks like the Bills are experiencing more injuries this season when you compare it to 2019-2020. During the offseason, a lot of Twitter “experts” (I won’t name names.) predicted the Bills to regress this season, often comparing them to the 2017 Jaguars and 2018 Bears. Some made this statement with the idea that Josh Allen would either regress or fail to improve. Some predicted the defense would regress. (I thought there was no way that would happen.) Some predicted the injury bug would hit the Bills given their luck with health and games lost in the 2019-2020 season.

I want to tell you that the injury bug is fictional. There is no “injury bug”, unless the team all got bit by ticks and infected with Lyme disease. The injury bug only exists if you believe in it, like the boogeyman. I despise when people say “Oh, the Bills are due for the injury bug.” The only thing that’s due are bills, homework assignments, and babies. Well, I guess other things can have due dates too, but you get the point. No sports team is “due” for injuries. For reference, roulette players will sit in the casino at the roulette wheel for hours saying, “23 is due, it hasn’t come up all night!” as they throw another $50 of chips on red 23 only to see the ball land in black 35 again. Yes, I used to love roulette, but it sucks, so now I play craps. The point being, 23 is not “due” because there is no rhyme or reason for what number the ball lands in that roulette wheel. The number is never “due”, and the casino knows that.

Back to football! In 2019, the Pegulas built an incredible state of the art facility that was very useful in managing minor injuries as well as integrating health promotion including nutritional/meal regimens filled with specific nutrients and vitamins that promote bone or tissue healing. In fact, the Bills did not avoid injuries last year like the narrative says. Yes, they had fewer injuries, but they still suffered their fair share. Remember, the Bills suffered these injuries last season: Morse missed all preseason with a concussion, Kroft (foot), Knox (hamstring), Phillips (knee), Allen (concussion), Milano (hamstring), Singletary (hamstring), Wallace (ankle), Ford (elbow). These guys all missed time at one point last season, though Allen only missed the 4th quarter of one game. They may have won that if he was in.

When the season concluded, multiple guys needed surgeries to repair injuries they dealt with all season. Jerry Hughes had two surgeries, Ed Oliver had groin surgery, and Cody Ford had shoulder surgery. An NFL team is not going to make it through a 17 week season without sustaining injuries; it’s just the nature of the sport. The work the training staff does with this team with the new and improved resources provided by the Pegulas allows the players to manage their minor injuries in the most optimal way, allowing them to play their best through them.  

So what in the world is happening this year, Gage? This team is riddled with injuries! Well, the entire NFL is riddled with injuries. If you put a team together of guys placed on season-ending IR, you would field a pro bowl team. Let’s build that team: OL-Taylor Lewan, Tyron Smith, Brandon Brooks, Kelechi Osemele, Mike Pouncey. WR-Courtland Sutton. RB- Saquon Barkley, Marlon Mack, Tarik Cohen. QB-Dak Prescott. Let’s look at the defensive side now: Nick Bosa, Chandler Jones, Von Miller, Devin Bush, Derwin James, Malik Hooker, Vita Vea, Kawaan Short, and Anthony Barr. There have been even more injuries around the league that weren’t season-ending but caused guys to miss multiple games including Christian McCaffrey, Chris Godwin, Devante Adams, Julio Jones, etc.

The interesting thing about this season is that we’re seeing a lot of torn ACLs and soft tissue injuries. You have to wonder, did the lack of training camp and preseason cause this? The amount of practice time and contact practices as well as the lack of preseason due to the pandemic may have contributed. The OTAs in the spring were also canceled and held virtually. Players have individual training programs they go through in the offseason, but losing this time with their teams had a huge impact on their preparation. Dr. Neal ElAttrache, a top sports surgeon in the country, was interviewed by the L.A. Times back in September and fired off a warning that this would happen. Dr. ElAttrache said, “The pandemic had a seismic impact on the way players train and prepare for their seasons. Most observers and fans of sports don’t realize what these guys are doing from the moment that last game ends from the previous season to when they start to prepare for the next season. There’s a big routine to that, and this was completely thrown haywire in baseball and football.” (Credit: Sam Farner, L.A. Times)

Yes, the Bills have had their fair share of injuries and lost three more guys Monday night including Cody Ford (knee), Tyrel Dodson (hamstring), and Cam Lewis (upper body). The list of Bills injuries to date includes Zack Moss, Matt Milano, Tremaine Edmunds, Ed Oliver, Quinton Spain, Tre White, Josh Norman, Levi Wallace, Jon Feliciano, Dawson Knox, John Brown, and Cole Beasley. Don’t get me wrong, I am aware this is a laundry list of injuries considering we’re only six weeks in. But when you compare this to other teams around the NFL, the injury situation in Buffalo is not nearly as bad. Teams are losing big-name players each week, some with serious, season-ending injuries. The injuries the Bills have encountered so far have had impacts. They definitely missed Tre White, Milano, and Brown in Tennessee, and that had a big effect on that game. Milano is probably the biggest loss since they are 1-2 without him, but he will be back soon.

However, the Bills are 4-2, and it could be a lot worse right now. I can handle losing guys here and there to minor injuries knowing they’ll be back and won’t miss more than a couple of games if any at all. No one plays through an entire season at 100%, even if they play in every game. I won’t sit here and say they are “lucky” because these guys are human beings putting their bodies on the line each week. Any sustained injury sucks, no matter how minor. But I will say that the Bills have been able to manage it thus far without anything serious that will derail the season and are in a better place than the majority of the league.

This is the craziest and weirdest NFL season I’ve ever witnessed, and I can’t imagine there will be another one like this any time soon. So, are the Bills getting his with the injury bug? No, of course not because there’s no such thing. The NFL is being hit with 2020. Actually, it’s not just getting hit with 2020, it’s getting rocked by 2020. With the CVS receipt-like list of injuries around the league coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-2021 Super Bowl champion is probably going to be the team that manages to stay the healthiest. As we enter week seven, the Bills are kind of in a good spot. Now, let’s get that defense fixed and win the division!

Random Fact of the week:

Here is a random insane fact to boggle your minds: Since Tom Brady signed with Tampa Bay

  • Tampa Bay Lightning have won the Stanley Cup
  • Tampa Bay Rays have made it to the World Series
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 4-2 and in first place in the NFC South
  • New England Patriots are 2-3, under .500 in October for the first time since 2002
  • Boston Bruins struggled in the NHL playoffs
  • Boston Red Sox had one of the worst seasons in their franchise history

Is Tom Brady a good luck? … never mind.

Thanks for reading! You guys are awesome!

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As always,

Go Bills!

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