Why have the New York Giants been hit harder by injuries than any other team in the NFL over the past two seasons? It is a fact that has contributed mightily to the team's back-to-back losing seasons, and one the organization doesn't have a satisfactory answer for.
"I am very frustrated about the number of injuries that we have had," co-owner John Mara said Tuesday during his end-of-season press conference. "It has been two years in a row now that we have led the league in putting players on [injured reserve] and number of games lost by starters."
The Giants led the league in 2014 with 22 players ending the season on injured reserve. A very unofficial tally (don't trust my math skills) comes up with 93 games missed by starters -- counting games missed by Trumaine McBride since he was starting when he went on IR -- and 153 games missed overall. That total doesn't even include the full seasons missed by Marcus Harris, Troy Kropog and David Wilson.
"We spent so much time last off-season addressing that and talking about how we are going to fix that going forward. We made adjustments to what was being done in the weight room. We had the GPS tracking system," Mara said. "For some reason, here we are again leading the league in that category.
"We cut down the number of soft-tissue injuries and then, all of a sudden, we get all these broken bones and torn tendons and torn biceps. I just don't have an answer for that right now. Obviously we will spend a lot of time on it this off-season, talking about that and looking at ways that we can improve upon that."
Head coach Tom Coughlin said the team "certainly did" make numerous changes to their training and practice regiment in an effort to avoid injuries.
The Giants used GPS tracking devices strapped to players' uniforms during practice to monitor a host of information, including when to do extra stretching or cut down on a players repetitions to avoid injury. The Giants instituted lengthy "recovery stretches" at least once a week during training camp, and Coughlin said that practice extended into the regular season.
What more can the Giants do?
"It's a good question," Coughlin said. "We depend an awful lot on the strength program and obviously that's been reduced. The player really, really has to prepare a lot more on his own. We've done the science. We're going to continue to do it. Our medical staff is the best in the league, in our opinion. We have the GPS system. We listen closely to the expert in that area and we do monitor a player accordingly. As John [Mara] mentioned, we have cut down on our soft tissue injuries. However, there are bones and there are tendons and muscles and knees that didn't listen to the GPS program, so we'll continue to do our work in that area."
The Giants' IR list:
Torn bicep (1) -- Prince Amukamara; Torn pectoral (2) -- Robert Ayers, Walter Thurmond; Toe (1) -- Jon Beason; Fractured leg (1) -- Michael Cox; Hip (1) -- Marcus Harris; Concussion (3) -- Peyton Hillis, Jacquian Williams, James Brewer; Foot (3) -- Jerrel Jernigan, Troy Kropog, Cooper Taylor; Knee (3) -- Mathias Kiwanuka, Victor Cruz, Adam Snyder; Ankle (2) -- Geoff Schwartz, Terrell Manning; Thumb (1) -- Trumaine McBride; Neck (1) -- David Wilson.
* NOTE: I didn't bother to include Mario Manningham, Trindon Holliday of the first injury Schwartz suffered, a toe injury that put him on short-term IR to start the season.
Earlier this month, I spoke to Dr. Kyle Flik, an orthopedic surgeon in the Albany area who has worked for a variety of MLB, NBA and minor-league franchises, about the Giants' rash of injuries. He said there really is no underlying cause and referred to them as "bum luck," adding that "I don't believe there is any significant difference among teams with respect to training methods."
Here is more of what I wrote a few weeks ago:
The problem with determining a root cause for the injuries suffered by the Giants is that it is basically impossible to do. Knee injuries, toe injuries, a torn biceps, torn pectoral muscles, leg fractures, finger injuries and neck injuries have nothing in common, and little to nothing to do with training methods.
The Giants, however, will continue to try to figure out a cause.
"You've got to have a little bit of luck. I say that every single year, and we had a little bad luck," GM Jerry Reese said. "We are still trying to research why can't we stay more healthy during the year and we will continue to sift through that and see how can correct that even more."