There was a team more banged up than the Bears this season.
In fact, there were seven of them.
Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News charts annually the effects of injuries leaguewide, and filed his report earlier this week. It’s worth checking out.
By Gosselin’s count, the Bears lost 60 games by starters (from the outset of the season) to injury.
The Bears trailed Buffalo (89), Indianapolis (81), Arizona (75), St. Louis (71), Miami (70), Houston (64) and Denver (63). Notice, the Colts were the only one of the bunch to make the playoffs. In fact, Indy and Washington (57) were the only two clubs in the top 12 to qualify for the postseason.
Meanwhile, of the league’s nine healthiest organizations, five qualified for the playoffs—Tennessee, the Giants, San Diego, Green Bay and New England. Staying healthy didn’t do a lot for the New York Jets, who lost only 20 starts.
The most injured team in the league, Buffalo, had 17 players placed on injured reserve. Yet the Bills remained in the playoff hunt into December.
The Sun-Times tracked the number of man starts lost by the Bears, counting starts for players who become starters during the season. So, after Dusty Dvoracek went down in the opener at San Diego with a knee injury that cost him 15 starts, Darwin Walker became the man. When knee injuries knocked him out of the lineup after the first game in Green Bay, his missed starts were added to the list. Anthony Adams filled in and when a ruptured triceps muscle prematurely ended his season after the game in Washington, the final three games he missed were added to the list, and so on. The Bears wound up at 20 at nose tackle using this system as it was a revolving door next to Tommie Harris.
Total all that up and the Bears were down 76 man starts, 57 of which came on the defensive side of the ball. Of course, the Bears compiled 30 alone in the opener at San Diego between Dvoracek and free safety Mike Brown. It wasn’t quite as bad as 2004 when their were 80 lost starts using this system, or 2002 when there were 77. When the Bears reached the Super Bowl last season, they were one of the healthiest bunches in the league with only 26, 10 by Brown.