Injuries are a known commodity among NFL teams and serve as a constant variable to overcome throughout each season, but the Redskins have been dealt a different hand over the last two seasons. Injuries have ravaged the group at nearly every position, and each Sunday provided a glimpse into their effects.
Prior to the end of the 2017 season, according to Football Outsiders' "adjusted man games lost" statistic, which quantifies how much a team is affected by injured starters, Washington ranked last in the league, with 121 games lost, and has been in the bottom third in six of the past nine years, respectively.
In fact, only the New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts have suffered more injuries than the Redskins in the past eight seasons.
In 2017, among the 22 projected offensive and defensive starters, eight Redskins' spent at least six games on Injured Reserve. Among the six offensive starters on the shelf were Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams, and starting tight end Jordan Reed, for varying lengths of time.
As 2018 provided a fresh start, with training tables empty and bodies prepared for a new campaign, the injury bug didn't delay its process long, as Washington suffered crucial injuries in Week 1 of the preseason in New England.
After bursting through the hole and spinning off a defender showing off his elite strength, speed, and agility that earned him his second-round selection, rookie running back Derrius Guice suffered a torn ACL. The injury provided a harsh reminder to Guice, who was injury-free in his time at LSU, that nothing can be taken for granted in the NFL. The Redskins would go on to place 24 members of the team on IR last year, a league high.
While players have to be assisted during each game by the team's training staffs, the Redskins medical team has spent extensive time rehabbing and providing therapy.
With the staggering number of injuries that have occurred in the just the last two seasons, questions have been raised to the process of training and rehab the Redskins strength and medical staff has provided its players, but Redskins President Bruce Allen remains confident in the veteran group.
"Our staff has actually received an award here," he said at the NFL Combine. "And INOVA has been a great partner with us, I think if you look at our staff and it’s the people who are used as second opinions on other teams. So, we’re confident in that and our players are confident in that.”
As the Redskins finished 2018 with 24 players on Injured Reserve, at the end of the day, you can't change history, but you can affect the future. That is exactly the mindset head coach Jay Gruden is taking into this offseason, as he is focused on not what happened, but how fast can he can get players back to full strength before training camp, and more importantly, Week 1.
"I think the key thing is getting the guys back from injuries as soon as we can, that’s all we can do. Avoiding the injuries, the blown-out knee, the torn pectoral, we’re talking about it, we’re trying to figure out," Gruden said. "We weren’t the only team that went through it, there were other teams that had multiple injuries as well, but usually the teams that advance far in the playoffs and do well don’t have that many injuries. We’re going to try do a better job of taking care of the guys in the offseason, our strength and conditioning staff is an excellent training staff I feel great about, and we’ve just had some bad luck.”
As each offseason is headlined by the trio of the NFL Scouting Combine, free agency and the NFL Draft, identifying the injury history of potential future Redskins is something Bruce Allen says he's "always done."
"If you go back to the different injuries on guys, you could see them happening." Allen mentioned to media. "There are players here that are telling us how they prepare for a game, and how they get their body ready after a game which are the same things we’re doing with the recovery center that we purchased."
Included in the mentioned state-of-the-art recovery center are sensory deprivation float orbs, and a cryotherapy chamber, that Redskins staff are hopeful will speed up recovery time, and get players back on the field quicker than normal.
“Everybody analyzes their injuries around the league," Allen said. "There’s different outfits that will tell you if there’s any trend or relation between different injuries -- it doesn’t show that for us. But yes, you look at it. The league does, the NFL does a lot of work with the players association in analyzing injuries and giving us data and different data points and we analyze that.”