Tis the season to be injured

The Buffalo Bills' 2009 campaign has sputtered due to injuries that have ended not only the seasons of the individuals, but the season of the Buffalo Bills as well. Who's at fault? BFR's Ian Smith analyzes…

Since the summer, the Buffalo Bills have placed 21 players on injured reserve.

Yes, you read that correctly. Twenty-one players. You haven't had too much eggnog or are in a daze because you've continuously watched The Christmas Story. The season of 21 football players who donned a Buffalo Bills uniform in 2009 are now sidelined with injuries.

Some high school football teams roll with 21 players on their entire roster. To have that many players on a season-ending list makes Santa Claus' grocery list look modest.

Not even rookie phenomenon Jairus Byrd could escape the inevitable hand of injury that has caressed the Buffalo Bills throughout the 5-8 season, as the defensive rookie of the year candidate was placed on IR. I thought that playing the safety position inferred that you could play the position with safety? Apparently not, as a nagging groin injury drove the Oregon product to finish 2009 early.

Byrd joined other young stars Demetrius Bell, Leodis McKelvin, and Eric Wood at 2009's injured reserve table. Those injuries are killers. When the future of the team is on the sideline, you know this year's edition is going hurt just as bad. All four could be major contributors for a very long time. They need this experience.

Problem is, this whole injury thing is becoming an annual occurrence. In 2007, 17 Bills players were placed on IR. Buffalo was in the playoff hunt heading into the final three weeks but the aforementioned injuries caught up to them and resulted in a 7-9 record.

One injurious year is an accident, two years is a trend.

The blame must fall on someone's shoulders. Turk Schonert's hurt shoulders were placed on IR a week before the 2009 season started. Dick Jauron's worn-down shoulders were placed on IR midway through the season. There is one member of the Buffalo Bills personnel who could have been at fault for Buffalo's failures this whole time: Strength and Conditioning Coach John Allaire.

I'm not trying to group him with Bernie Madoff because this is certainly not an indictment. It may just be that the Bills have entered a Bermuda Triangle of trouble.

In a recent BFR Q&A, safety John Wendling said the injuries are simply a string of bad luck — freak accidents that continue to snowball.

Be that as it may, several seasons have stalled and ended as a result of crucial injuries.

According to his profile on the official Buffalo Bills website, Allaire "works to help players increase strength, speed development, agility and flexibility." To me, 21 players on IR in 2009 and 17 players on IR in 2007 do not sound like the job is getting done.

If Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. decides to clean house in the offseason, let's hope he includes John Allaire. Otherwise, the dirty floors of Buffalo's house may cause some Bills to fall on next year's injured reserve list. Something is obviously going terribly wrong with the team's conditioning routine.

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