Not long after the demise of the 2013 season, we decided to take a long and close look at the post-2010 Green Bay Packers. It actually didn’t take long for the biggest factor in the repeated disappointment of the past three seasons to leap off the page. The Packers have been the most injured team in the NFL over the past two seasons, leading the league in games lost to injury in both years. Considering they also led the league in games lost to injury in 2010, this suggests an obvious and disturbing trend that is not likely to be explained by simple bad luck.
As everyone knows, the Packers overcame their mountain of injuries in 2010. However, the last couple of seasons have shown just how rare a feat that is. Since one cannot count on overcoming a long list of injuries, the solution is obvious: reduce your injuries.
Our call to Mike McCarthy was simple — address the problem. Well, it is far too early to talk about results, but we can say this — message received.
Before the season even started, McCarthy was already in action. In April, he brought in the Australian GPS technology firm Catapult Sports for research and recommendations on injury prevention. Their recommendations, in part, led to several changes to how the OTAs and now training camp has been run.
In the past, practices started with a jog through as a warm-up period. That has been moved to the end of practice to serve as more of a cool down period. The most dangerous periods of practice, the 11-on-11 and the new 9-on-11, have been moved to the middle of practice to guarantee less fatigue and wear on the body going in. There also have been changes to the breaks and what the players eat and drink.
Lastly, as we are seeing for the first time this weekend, the 48 hours prior to a game have been changed. In the past, Friday saw a light practice and final film review and Saturday was mostly a day off with some assignment review. That essentially has been flopped. Friday, or two days before the game, will be the day off, while Saturday, or the day prior to the game, will be half film study and half training room work.
Obviously, the thought here is that heavy exertion is safer when following light exertion versus following idle time.
Again, it is much too early to be declaring anything a success. Despite suffering two season-ending injuries in the last two weeks, the Packers are definitely healthier right now than they were going into the preseason last year. On top of that, Letroy Guion, who apparently injured himself on the plane ride into Green Bay, remains the only player missing time at present due to a hamstring injury.
Now, let’s hope I didn’t just entirely jinx the entire thing.