Posted December 26, 2013

Bill Belichick attributes increased injuries to NFL offseason workout limits

New England Patriots
(Steven Senne/AP)

Bill Belichick is not happy about several aspects of the current CBA. (Steven Senne/AP)

When the NFL and the NFLPA signed off on a new collective bargaining agreement in July 2011, one of the new provisos was that teams would have fewer organized offseason workouts. Players now have 14 weeks between seasons to rest, fewer OTAs, fewer practices with full contact and longer breaks between those OTAs and training camps. The idea was to reduce the number of overall injuries, but some in the league are not on board with that notion.

In a conference call with Buffalo media leading up to his team’s regular-season finale against the Bills, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick blamed the increasing number of injuries in the 2013 season directly on the lack of offseason training and preparation over the last few years.

“I’m in favor of total preparation for the players for the season,” Belichick said, via the Associated Press. “And I think that’s been changed significantly and, I would say, not necessarily for the better, when you look at the injury numbers.”

Injuries are up fairly significantly this year — especially lower-body injuries, as defensive players lower their targets to try to avoid the league’s new focus on helmet-to-helmet hits. According to ESPN’s John Clayton, NFL teams lost 1,276 player games to injury or suspension in 2012. After the CBA, that total went up to 1,403 in 2011 and 1,414 in 2012, and in 2013, it’s already at 1,514.

Belichick, whose team has actually lost fewer player games in the last two seasons (from 72 in 2011 to 35 in 2012 to 62 this year) has little doubt what the issue is.

“You have a gap between preparation and competition level,” the coach concluded. “And I think that’s where you see a lot of injuries occurring. We get a lot of breakdowns. We get a lot of situations that players just aren’t as prepared as they were in previous years, in my experience anyway.”

Belichick’s ‘experience’ is that he’s trying to get back to the Super Bowl with 10 players on injured reserve, with several impact contributors — tight end Rob Gronkowski, safety Adrian Wilson, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, linebacker Jerod Mayo, offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer — among them.

NFL spokesman Michael Signora denied any correlation.

“We carefully monitor player injuries,” Signora told the AP. “There is no evidence that the new work rules have had an adverse effect on the injury rate or that injuries have in fact increased.”

In fact, injuries have increased, they’ve done so rather significantly, and they’ve done so since the signing of the new CBA. Per STATS, Inc., an average of 239 players finished the season on injured reserve from 2000 through 2006, and that average has increased to over 300 since.

“When you see the number as high as they are, then I don’t think that’s a randomness that’s been two years in a row,” Belichick said. “I’ve got to think there’s some correlation there.”

8 comments
swidt
swidt

I would like to see the current numbers adjusted to account for increased suspensions and games missed because of concussion protocol.   Concussions are now acknowledged way more often than they used to be, and players miss a lot more games due to the league's concussion protocol. -How much of the increase is attributable to those changes? 

dwb_alpha
dwb_alpha

It probably doesn't help the numbers that players are going on IR from hangnails these days.  The league needs more London Fletchers and fewer Jay Cutlers.  Some of them even run home to mommy when their big meanie teammates don't like them AND STILL GET PAID!!  Stop paying them when they are "injured" (or when Jonathan Martin's wittle feelings get hurt) and I bet you'll see injuries drop dramatically.

jbc123
jbc123

Well as long as Michael Signora says so, it must be true. That Belichick guy clearly doesn't know anything when compared to the genius of guys like randomdeletion and Signora. It must be my eyes fooling me every Sunday as guys are being carted off. An 8% increase is significant no matter what these two clowns say.  Do that for a few seasons in a row and the League is out of business.

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

Belichick should just shut up.  What he is saying won't matter in the least.  There are 1696 players on the 53 man rosters during the season.  The injury increase amounts to 15 player seasons.  FIFTEEN.  The players significantly benefited themselves with the new deal giving themselves more off time and less full contact work outs.  They won't be giving that up.  Something that benefits roughly 1700 players at the expense of a few extra injuries?  Yeah, Bill, S T F U you idiot. 

espnrefugee0218
espnrefugee0218

ACLs are being torn by guys going low to avoid fines and penalties....clear as day.

The XFL was a decade too early..if it came back now to tune of real football id watch

swidt
swidt

The players know the union's stalling on HGH testing is coming to an end, and I suspect the less HGH use is a factor in the increased number of injuries.

hohman.melissa
hohman.melissa

@randomdeletion That "idiot" has won more SB's than YOUR team can even DREAM about.  Go back into your cave, know-it-all.