Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When Healthy… Part 1: The Past

When Healthy… Part 1: The Past

May 19th, 2010 | by detfan1979 |

Landscaping has not been my friend this spring. A month or so back, I rolled my ankle while wheelbarrowing rocks from one place to another. A couple weeks later, I slipped on the hill next to our house while carrying cement block twisted a knee and pulled a Quad. Yes. April was that kind of month. (They were all minor injuries and I’m doing just fine outside of missing a few Taekwondo classes)

This did, however, get me to thinking about health and football players. Jim Schwartz inadvertently said it very bluntly last week when answering questions into the health of Jahvid Best — “When healthy – well, none of these guys are ever the same after they step on the field, but…”

“never the same…”

Isn’t that the truth? Running Backs over 30 are essentially at the end of their career – heck, most RB’s are considered to be good for about 3 – 4 years, depending on the number of carries. The beating that various positions take makes the length of time players can play at a high level vary. Despite these basic NFL wear-and-tear that every player faces, it is the “unforeseen” – injury – that can take a potential star and make them nothing more than a dollar ninja in less than a second.

How many times during every season and ifseason do we hear the words “when healthy” and “if healthy?”

“If healthy player X will be a huge signing for this team’s {insert position of need}.”

“When healthy player X is still one of the best {insert position} out there. “

“If he can stay healthy this season, player X will really bolster {insert team, insert position group}”

The Detroit Lions of the last decade are a hotbed of such notions — those that mistake past performance or potential with post-injury performance and potential. As such, we as Lions fans also tend to over-fear the severity of impact for every injury that a player sustains. (Every sprained ankle is a “career ender” on many Lions forums…until the player comes back fine, or course.)

The Jacksonville Jaguars recently signed Teddy Lehman to “bolster their linebacking corps” and pundits state that “when healthy, Lehman was an impact linebacker for the Lions” and trotted out his rookie year stats. Lehman, however, was never the same after his Lisfranc injury – he lost the speed that his game was predicated on and just looked flat and below average at best ever since. Despite the number of seasons since then to no avail, his addition is being hailed as a positive defensive building block in Jacksonville. Something tells me this may not be the case.

There are other Lions who were supposed to re-energize their career — Kevin Jones (whose constant injuries spawned the phrase “dollar ninja”) in Chicago spent two years on IR before being cut. Despite a brilliant rookie campaign, Kevin Jones spent almost twice as much time on the Injured Reserve List as he ever did on the field. Boss Bailey made a stopover in Denver where is chronically bad knees held him back just as they did in Detroit.

Brian Calhoun never did see any real playing time, or even a chance to show if he had potential to begin with after numerous injuries. We all know how injuries (and other issues) corralled Charles Rogers. Dan Campbell had great potential as a TE – but Detroit wasn’t the only team who paid for him to spend lots of time with the trainer. Casey Fitzsimmons had to call it quits after concussions put a big stop sign in his career — but he suffered other numerous injuries before that. DeWayne White was one of the best overall DE’s on the Lions in recent years — when healthy. Sadly, that wasn’t but a handful of games over the seasons he was here. Just enough to tease us, not enough to make a real impact.

Even last season Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith, Brandon Pettigrew, Ernie Sims, Stephen Peterman, Jared DeVries, Louis Delmas and others battled injuries. To put it in perspective, heading into the playoffs last year the Dallas Cowboys had zero players on the injured reserve — the only team in the league who did not have multiple players on IR. Most teams had at least half a dozen – The Lions many more.

“When/If healthy” is a dangerous phrase to use as a fan (or rely on as a coach/GM) — Because often times, when/if never happens again.

Tomorrow I’ll look at how injury situations are currently on the Lions and what it could mean for the 2010 season.

Rating: 8.5/10 (8 votes cast)
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One Response to “When Healthy… Part 1: The Past”

  1. By JJLions20 on May 23, 2010

    Injuries are part of the NFL. It’s a violent game and injuries are going to occur. It’s the depth and how a team can withstand the injuries that makes a difference. When a team handles it well, people forget that there was an injury crisis at one point in the season. For example, Lets look at the Colts and a team that depends on the Peyton Manning passing attack, which took them all the way to the super bowl. Well does anybody remember what happened on the first play of the regular season. Their #2 receiver (Anthony Gonzalez) goes down with a season ending injury. Who do they have in the reserves… A 2nd year player who had not caught a pass in the NFL, and a rookie receiver from a Division III school. The Colts over came the injury and won plenty of games.

    That’s why this time of the year is called the “IF” Season. So for a short time let’s look at the dark side of the Lions depth chart.

    There is a lot of hype about CJ and Burleson. But what IF one or both of them goes down, who would the Lions rely on. We saw the performance of Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt last season. The best hope may be Derrick Williams because there could be a big improvement in a receivers 2nd season.

    What If Felton goes down. Who plays FB. Well, there is not another one on the roster. Nordin is being given some reps as a FB.

    If Backus goes down the important LT position will be in the hands of John Jansen. Not a bad situation for a couple of games, but not for a long stretch.

    What if Dominic Riola goes down. Gerberry be in that all important Center position. The Lions plugged the hole at LG with Sims. But who is behind him. The same guys that couldn’t do the job last season. There has been much made about how much the line deteriorated when Peterman went down last season. Well the guys behind him are the same guy’s that stepped in last year.

    LB was a strength last year, but with the loss of Foote and Sims, the depth is a little depleted. If Peterson, Levy, or Follett goes down we’re looking at Dizon stepping in.

    We don’t even need to go into the depth of the DB’s.

    If the lions are to win 5 or more games, they will either need to stay fairly healthy, or some of the depth will have to perform a level higher then they did last season.

    The dark-side of the IF season isn’t “IF” they stay Healthy, it’s what you do “IF” they are not healthy. Don’t think that the Lions brass isn’t planning for those situations in the “IF” season.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

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