When the story of the 2015 NFL season is written, there will a number of narratives. The excellence of the Patriots and the sudden emergence of the Panthers. Peyton Manning finally tapping out to Father Time. The huge gape in parity between the league’s elite teams and the ones struggling to get above .500.
However, the overriding story of the 2015 NFL season will be how it’s been marred by major injuries to a host of star players. NFL 2015 – the Season of Crippling Injuries.
Of course, we don’t have to tell fans of the Black and Gold. I’ve been watching the Pittsburgh Steelers since the late 80s and I’ve never seen a year remotely like this. Every year you lose guys but never at the level or rate we’ve lost them this season. It’s to the point every game I expect another shoe to drop.
The Steelers lost All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey and reliable kicker Shaun Suisham before the first real game had even been played. Le’Veon Bell returned from his pot-related suspension in week 3 only for Ben Roethlisberger to go down. When Ben returns a month later, we get three quarters in before Bell is lost with a season-ending injury. A week after that, Ben suffers yet another injury although that one ends up costing him only about a quarter of a game.
You think the Steelers are cursed, imagine being a fan of the Baltimore Ravens. They lost the heart of their defense, Terrell Suggs, in the season opener. That, along with injuries to their starting corners, trashed their defense although they still had a decent offense. That is until Steve Smith, who was capping his career with an outstanding swan song, tore up his ankle. Then last week, they won the game but lost Joe Flacco and Justin Forsett in one fell swoop.
It’s not an AFC North thing, either. Nearly every team has suffered major losses. The Packers lost Jordy Nelson right off the bat. The Patriots lost Julian Edelman and former Pitt standout Dion Lewis. The Chiefs and Texans lost Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster, respectively. Tony Romo was on short term IR while Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham worked through their own injuries.
Can you imagine Roger Goodell floating his insane 18 game schedule theory this year? If they added two games to the schedule, we’d be one small step away from a Case Keenum vs Brock Osweiler AFC Championship game. The only way extra games could possibly work is if they expanded rosters to like 75 players. The problem is, there’s barely enough talent for 32 decent teams, expand rosters and might as well throw out the record book because every record would be broken in short order.
Football has always been called a war of attrition. And to an extent I have to concede the unprecedented number of injuries is something of a fluke. However, there’s no question this has a year unlike any other. With Thanksgiving tomorrow, let’s all just give thanks that the Steelers have managed to weather the storm and not fall to pieces like so many other teams have.