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How Have Injuries Impacted the Indianapolis Colts?

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

There have been a lot of problems that have plagued the Chuck Pagano-era Indianapolis Colts, but there is one particular issue that has seeped over from the previous regime – injuries. Injuries seem to be a recurring problem for this team every single year.

How severe is the issue for the Colts, as compared to the rest of the league?

First a look at the raw numbers.

# of players on IR for Colts (league ranking):

  • 2017 – 23 players (3rd most)
  • 2016 – 17 (19th)
  • 2015 – 16 (16th)

Unfortunately, Spotrac only had data available back to the 2015 season. This season has been brutal on injuries for the entire league but the Colts still found a way to place the 3rd highest number of players on IR, behind the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants.

Here is a list of some of the players on IR for Indianapolis:

  1. Andrew Luck
  2. Jack Mewhort
  3. Malik Hooker
  4. Ryan Kelly
  5. Edwin Jackson
  6. John Simon
  7. Henry Anderson
  8. Erik Swoope
  9. Pierre Desir
  10. Jon Bostic
  11. Deyshawn Bond
  12. Robert Turbin
  13. Quan Bray

That’s the franchise quarterback, starting guard, blue-chip prospect at safety, starting center, potential starting linebacker, starting outside linebacker, starting defensive lineman, contributing tight end, starting cornerback, starting inside linebacker, replacement center, backup running back, and starting returner. The 2017 Colts roster is clearly not a picture of health.

2016 was a relatively healthy season, one of the few I can remember during the Pagano administration. While 2015 looks eerily similar to this one, with Andrew Luck missing games that season. While there weren’t as many injuries in 2015 by number as there is this season by a wide margin, Luck’s missed games have a bigger impact than any other injury. This is where the Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Games Lost comes in, as it actually measures the impact of injuries.

Here are the Colts’ rankings for this metric from the past few years:

That’s an average ranking of 28 of 32 total teams.

To be clear, have been plenty of other problems that have afflicted this roster. Acknowledging the mountain of injuries doesn’t provide the coaching staff and front office with a legitimate excuse for the team’s recent struggles, especially with a once in a lifetime prospect like Andrew Luck playing for the better part of two of their last three seasons.

What is difficult to figure out is where this injury epidemic all starts. Is it a matter of the strength and conditioning staff not doing their job? Is it a problem with the medical team? Is it just bad luck?

It’s hard to blame the randomness of injuries on a group of people, especially considering the Colts just added a new head strength and conditioning coach in 2016, while this problem preceded that season. However, it seems that there is a trend here and something should be done to try and correct it.

For now, all anybody can do is hope for a better 2018.