I have wondered for years why the Lions always seem to have massive amounts of injuries and usually lead the league in players on injured reserve. In the Marinelli years I figured it was because he wanted lighter faster players and their bodies just couldn’t handle the abuse.
The issue goes deeper than that though, because the injury issues didn’t stop this year and they existed prior to Marinelli. I started looking deeper into it and I noticed a trend. Generally speaking, the worse the team, the more injuries they had. Why is that? I have two theories.
Good players have the talent and skills to play with proper technique which helps them avoid situations that jeopardize their health. This is especially true in the trenches. How many times have you seen a lineman get hurt because he gets too high in his stance? He gets pushed backwards into the pile and gets his ankle or knee rolled on. Or even worse, the bad players gets tossed to the ground and he rolls up on somebody else’s leg.
On the defensive side, poor tackling technique leads to lots of injuries, especially head and neck injuries. If you have a cornerback that takes a bad angle on a tackle attempt they have to lunge and the player rather than squaring their pads and getting their weight behind them. Also, with poor play in the front seven, you get big running backs steamrolling into the undersized secondary and the defensive backs have to hit somebody that outweighs them by 30 lbs and is running full speed.
The other main cause, in my opinion, is players on bad teams eventually check out mentally or start trying to avoid injuries. Players will tell you that as soon as they loose that edge they can get sloppy in their technique or they don’t go full speed.
Players need to focus on their technique and keep their intensity up to keep themselves safe on the field. It’s similar to driving when you are tired or distracted, the odds of an accident increase the less you pay attention to the road. At this point in the season, it’s like players have been driving for 20 straight hours and there’s nothing exciting to look forward to at the end of the trip.
There will always be freak injuries, and unlucky injuries like Kevin Smith tearing his ACL without getting touched. But for the most part, the worse the team the greater the odds for injury.