Injuries Though Orange-Colored Glasses

With Browns fans and the media echoing worries about the rash of injuries which afflicted the Browns on Sunday, fan commentator Dale Galbraith takes a hard look at the numbers. What has happened in the past when the team banged-up? The results may surprise you...

No one wants to see a player injured. But it is a fact of life in the NFL. Good teams overcome injuries. Back-up players step up. Coaches get the most out of the players activated by putting them in situations they can succeed.  It is time to see how good the Browns are.

There has been a lot of discussion this week about the reasons for injuries. Injuries are unavoidable. Today's players are big, strong, and fast. When they meet, it is usually a violent collision. Players are conditioned to make, and take these hits. So these type of impacts only account for a small percentage of the injuries. Most injuries happen when the player doesn't see it coming. Often injury comes from contact by a teammate. 

Last Sunday against the Cowboys several Browns players suffered injuries. Those injuries have effected their individual seasons and careers. But the players who suit up on Sundays can't let it effect theirs. I feel confident that this coaching staff, along with the veteran leadership in the locker room, will not let this team go into a tailspin.

This is not the voice of a fan looking at the world through orange colored glasses. Just take a look at recent history.

In 2002, Ryan Tucker missed two consecutive games in September due to a knee injury. On September 15th Kelly Holcomb, filling in for the injured Tim Couch, threw for 2 touchdowns. Phil Dawson added 2 field goals, and the Browns beat the Bengals 20-7. Roger Chanoine started  in place of the injured Tucker. Joaquin Gonzalez also came in for 2 series in the 2nd quarter when Roger tweaked his knee. The following week against the Titans the Browns won 31-28. Tim Couch returned to the line up and threw 3 touchdown passes. Dennis Northcutt returned a punt for a touchdown. Phil Dawson kicked a game winning 33 yard field goal in overtime. Chanoine once again played for the injured Tucker.

Daylon McCutcheon was inactive for 3 games in 2002. The first game the Browns beat the Texans 34-17. Houston quarterback David Carr threw for only one TD, and wide receiver Jabar Gaffney added a touchdown toss on a trick play. The 2nd game without McCutcheon the Browns lost to Carolina 13-6. But Carolina QB Rodney Peete completed only 8 passes for 89 yards and 1 TD.  Daylon's  3rd inactive game came against Jacksonville, the Browns won in the final seconds 21-20. Tim Couch threw a Hail Mary pass to Quincy Morgan. Jaguar QB Mark Brunell completed only 10 passes for 73 yards with 1 TD.

McCutcheon also was inactive for the Denver game in 2003. A game in which the Browns other starting corner Anthony Henry could only play in nickel and dime packages due to a nagging knee injury. Michael Lehan and Roosevelt Williams substituting for the injured corners played their hearts out. The Broncos won the game in overtime 23-20. No Bronco receiver reached the end zone that day. But Jake Plummer with 37 seconds left in the game hit Ashley Lelie for a 46 yard gain with Lehan covering. This set up an Elam field goal which tied the game 20-20 sending it to overtime.

Courtney Brown has missed 19 games during Butch Davis's tenure as head coach. The Browns are 10-9 in the games that he has missed. He suffered an ankle sprain on the 5th play from scrimmage against the Titans on 12-2-2001, and did not return. If you count that loss the Browns are 10-10 without him.

Kellen Winslow has the potential to be a great one. But to date, for reasons that can be debated all day,  he hasn't been the impact player we are all waiting to see. The Browns are 1-1 with him in the line-up.

Gerard Warren has only missed one game as a Brown that happened on 11-25-2001. It was the result of a one game suspension, and not injury. The Browns beat the Bengals 18-0.

Sadly Courtney Brown's season - and possibly his career - is over. Winslow may see the field again by December. He can be listed as one of the 7 inactive players on Sunday. The Browns may decide to IR him if their game day injury list grows to 8-9. Right now only 3-5 players will be on the inactive list this week due to injury. Hopefully McCutcheon will only miss one game if that. It looks like Tucker and Warren will be out a few weeks.

There are several other players with injuries not mentioned in this article. That's not to say their role on the team has less importance. I just wanted to point out that it is still possible for the Browns to win with the injuries that have occurred.

Injuries happen but the game goes on. Players have to play. Back-up players have to step up. Coaches have to coach. Fans have to cheer. The Browns have to win games. Nothing else is acceptable.

Hopefully, I won't have to get the orange colored glasses out of my drawer this year.

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