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In the 16 years since the Buffalo Bills were last in the playoffs, they’ve found a number of ways to fall short of playing meaningful football in January. Whether it’s no franchise quarterback, bad offensive line play, or highly paid players quitting on the coaching staff, Bills fans have seen and heard it all.
But after further review, injuries played a significant role in Rex Ryan's attempt to bring the Bills back to the playoffs for the first time since the second Bush was sworn into office.
For the most part, unless your team has Tom Brady, good teams find ways to stay healthy. Sometimes it’s luck, other times it can be offseason conditioning.
Bring yourself back to Week 6 last year when the Bills took on the Cincinnati Bengals at home. Percy Harvin's season had ended the week before in Tennessee, Tyrod Taylor was rolled up awkwardly on by then Titans linebacker Zach Brown and was unable to play. In addition to this duo, guys like Leodis McKelvin, Aaron Williams and Karlos Williams were unable to play leaving the Bills shorthanded.
On the other side for the Bengals, they played with their entire opening day roster with no injuries. The Bengals record after beating the Bills 34-21? A perfect 6-0. Now I’m sure bad football teams can go six weeks with their opening day roster and not be 6-0, but there’s certainly a connection to be made.
Full list of injured Bills in 2015:
Aaron Williams (neck) – 14 games*
Percy Harvin (hip/knee) – 11 games*
Kyle Williams (knee) - 10 games*
Leodis McKelvin (leg) – 7 games
Karlos Williams (concussion) – 6 games
Seantrel Henderson (illness) – 5 games*
Nigel Bradham (ankle) – 5 games*
Stephon Gilmore (shoulder) – 4 games*
LeSean McCoy (hamstring) – 4 games*
John Miller (groin/ankle) – 4 games*
Sammy Watkins (calf/ankle) – 3 games*
Charles Clay (back) – 3 games*
Tyrod Taylor (knee) – 2 games*
Robert Woods (groin) – 2 games*
*Denotes a starter
How can a guy in his first season as an NFL starting quarterback get into any sort of rhythm when injuries cause him to miss two games against conference opponents? Throw in the fact that his top target, Sammy Watkins, will miss multiple games and at times play at less than 100%. Or how about when arguably the best over the middle target on the team, Charles Clay, misses time and is hindered throughout the season with a back injury?
How can a defense try to execute one of the league’s most complex defenses with injuries to key locker room guys like Kyle Williams? What happens to Buffalo's playoff push when you lose your franchise cornerback, Stephon Gilmore, to a shoulder injury?
What both fans and the league want is for the best and most exciting players to be healthy and contributing when it matters most. If the Bills can manage to keep star players like LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, Tyrod Taylor and Aaron Williams healthy, they’ll have an opportunity to secure one of the two AFC Wild Card spots and end the playoff drought in 2016.null