Obviously, each of the NFL’s 32 teams deals with significant injury issues every week and every season. And yet, over the last three seasons, no team was dealt a worse hand than our Chicago Bears.
Dating back to 2015, the injury bug bit the Bears early and often. And for John Fox, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Because as Fox tried to create an atmosphere of professionalism and competence that was lost during the two years of the Marc Trestman regime, he had to do so while playing short-handed. We didn’t love all of Fox’s decisions here at The Ten-Yard Line (and we let you know it), but that’s not something we can really (or, at least, entirely) put on him.
In any case, Football Outsiders Assistant Editor Scott Kacsmar shares a metric that wouldn’t surprise anyone who watched the Bears over the last three years:
Adjusted games lost to injury, 2015-2017
1. Falcons 97.2
32. Bears 366
— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) June 14, 2018
Ouch. (Literally, ouch. What else is there to say?)
Since the start of the 2015 season, 47 Bears players have finished the season on injured reserve and that’s led to the team losing 558 man-games to IR stints during the last three seasons.
In an attempt to remedy this issue, the Bears’ offseason house-cleaning went beyond the coaching staff. GM Ryan Pace went on a health kick of sorts hiring new team members at head trainer and strength/conditioning coach. Chicago split with its previous athletic trainer and conditioning coach earlier in the calendar year after the ill-fated run of injury plagued seasons, and the hope is that new facilities, a new perspective, and new leadership will help the Bears curb some of their injury issues. At this point, you’d figure it would be difficult for Chicago to be any less lucky, so change (even just for change’s sake) couldn’t hurt.
In the end, seeing the Bears and Falcons at the opposite ends of this spectrum makes sense. This isn’t to say Chicago would have been as successful as Atlanta if the roles were reversed. The Falcons had several key pieces in place that the Bears definitely didn’t have, primarily at the quarterback position. But it’s ridiculously difficult to rebuild while taking on a wave of injuries like the Bears saw. And to be competitive during that stretch? Good luck. Hopefully, things are different in 2018 any beyond.