The Baltimore Ravens have had two years derailed due to overwhelming injuries. In 2014, they persevered and were able to get a respectable postseason run out of it before seeing their decimated secondary fall pray to the eventual Super Bowl winners in the New England Patriots. Could it be time to change the training staff? The Ravens don't seem to think so.
2015 was a deeply depressing year for the Baltimore Ravens and fans. Expected to be Super Bowl contenders, they fell to 5-11, tied for the second worst record in franchise history. With injuries on offense and defense that saw stars like Steve Smith Sr., Terrell Suggs, Breshad Perriman, and many others hit injured reserve, fans were naturally upset as it seemed that the Ravens were getting unnaturally targeted. Could it be the field that did it?
The Ravens must have thought it did since they announced that they would be changing over to a natural grass surface in 2016. Having held the crumbled rubber surface for both drainage and as a potentially softer surface for 12 years, since 2003, the change back to natural grass is a shocking one for the franchise.
It won't fix much during training camp and practices where the open fields are natural grass. As we know, rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman got hurt on the first day of training camp after falling on his knee going up for a pass. He would linger on the injury report for most of the season before heading to injured reserve. So while it might make a difference and decrease the 20 players on injured reserve in 2015, players are still susceptible to injury regardless.
Which makes the idea that the training staff might be to blame have some credence. Mark Smith, the Head Certified Athletic Trainer has been with the team for 28 years, pushing back into the Cleveland Browns time. Made the head trainer in 2011, Smith would have to be the guy the Ravens would look at to replace. A tenure like that doesn't go so easily.
When asked if the team was looking to make any changes on Thursday at the end of season press conference, Steve Bisciotti, Dick Cass, Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh harped on continuity as being the major factor in their success over the years. That means that defensive coordinator Dean Pees is still around town for the Ravens, and it will likely mean that the team is going to keep it's training staff as well.
The other argument against changing the training staff is that injuries are always up for the entire NFL. While the Ravens have been bit by the bug recently, every team sees their fair share of guys going down whether for a few plays or a full season. With the staff having been with the team for so long, it could just be possible that it's a string of bad luck instead of the training staff not living up to their expectations.
However, much like coaching in this league, if the Ravens have yet another year like 2015 in terms of injuries, we will almost assuredly see someone new take the position.