4 NFL Teams Who Can Legitimately Blame Injuries for Early Struggles

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IOctober 9, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 30:  Santonio Holmes #10 of the New York Jets is carted off the field in the second half against the San Francisco 49ers on September 30, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.The San Francisco 49ers defeated the New York Jets 34-0.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Like death and taxes in life, injuries are a guarantee every season in the National Football League. 

The best NFL general managers build necessary depth on both sides of the ball, but injuries can devastate even the deepest of rosters. 


New York Jets

The Jets came into the 2012 season with a number of question marks, most of them centering around the quarterback position. But catastrophic injuries have turned a borderline playoff team into one who will be lucky to approach .500 this season. 

New York was dealt arguably the worst injury blow when cornerback Darrelle Revis was lost for the season with a knee injury (ACL), then two weeks later had their best offensive player, receiver Santonio Holmes, go down in a heap. Holmes will also miss the rest of the 2012 season. 

Monday night against Houston, the Jets tossed out names such as Jeff Cumberland, Chaz Schillens and Jeremy Kerley as starters at the skill positions. The depth has been so bad on both sides of the ball that New York has entertained the idea of playing running back Joe McKnight on defense and cornerback Antonio Cromartie on offense. 

A full strength Jets team could have pushed for the postseason. This weakened roster likely won't have enough on either side to do so. 


Washington Redskins

The Redskins just can't avoid streaks of bad luck. 

While Robert Griffin III has been a revelation at quarterback, the pieces around him have stayed dinged up for the majority of this season. Even Griffin himself has been bit by the injury bug in 2012.

The injuries started early and haven't let up since. 

Pierre Garcon, Griffin's most talented target and the receiver who caught his first NFL touchdown pass, has battled a foot injury since Week 1. He's only now working his way back.

Linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker both were lost for the season during the same week. Each were expected to play key roles on an improving defense.

Even in pre-game warmups, the Redskins can't stay healthy. On the field before Washington's Week 4 matchup with Tampa Bay, safety Brandon Meriweather and receiver Aldrick Robinson collided during a freak accident. Neither has played since. 

The final injury blow came Sunday against Atlanta, as Griffin III had to miss the better part of three quarters after suffering a concussion. 

The Redskins were an improved team coming into 2012, plenty capable of making noise in the loaded NFC East. But the more injuries continue piling up, the less likely it is Washington will be much of a factor this season. 


Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers likely entered this season as the most injured team in football. 

Linebacker James Harrison and running back Rashard Mendenhall both finally returned in Week 5 after battling knee injuries this offseason.

But along the way this season, the Steelers have dealt with their share of injuries. Safety Troy Polamalu went down with a nagging calf injury, linebacker Stevenson Sylvester tore his MCL, the offensive line has went through musical chairs and the running backs (Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer) have battled dings. 

Polamalu's calf injury is the one to watch. The Steelers have already ruled him out for Week 6, so this could be something that the All-Pro safety has to deal with all season. 

Considering all the injuries, it's no wonder why the Steelers have fallen to 16th in the NFL in scoring defense this season after having the top ranked scoring defense a season ago. 


New York Giants

The Giants haven't actually struggled in 2012, but the amount of injuries they've had to deal with, especially on the offensive side, is astounding. 

Here's the list of offensive players that have missed games for the Giants in 2012: Hakeem Nicks, David Diehl, Ahmad Bradshaw, Domenik Hixon and Ramses Barden. Victor Cruz and Chris Snee have also dealt with various ailments this season. 

Few teams could handle the kind of offensive losses the Giants have in 2012 and still be second in total yards and scoring. 

The defense has also been stung by the injury bug. 

Among the defensive players who have battled injuries are Antrell Rolle, Kenny Phillips, Corey Webster, Prince Amukamara, Keith Rivers, Rocky Bernard, Jayron Hosley and Michael Boley. 

Again, how many teams could withstand such wide-scale losses?