Injuries have forced New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to do more with less this season. He’s not happy about it.
“I’m in favor of total preparation for the players for the season,” Belichick remarked in a conference call this week reported on by 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.”
The three-time Lombardi Trophy-winning head coach referred to labor agreements reached after 2011’s lockout that limited team training, including prohibitions on preseason double-sessions, reductions for offseason team activities from fourteen to nine weeks, and restrictions on the number of practices conducted in pads.
“Personally, I think that’s taking the wrong approach,” Belichick explained. “You have a gap between preparation and competition level. 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.”
In Belichick’s experience this year, he has lost such Pro Bowl-caliber weapons as tight end Rob Gronkowski, nose guard Vince Wilfork, and linebacker Jerrod Mayo to season-ending injuries. League-wide, such marquee players as Reggie Wayne, Von Miller, Sam Bradford, and Jake Long have been placed on injured reserve.
Earlier in December, Jenny Vrentas from Monday Morning Quarterback wondered if 2013 should be dubbed “the year of the injury.” ESPN’s Kevin Seifert asked a month ago, “Is the NFL experiencing an injury epidemic?” With the final week of games still to be played, season-ending knee injuries have already increased 31 percent over all of last season and 68 percent over 2011.