Replicating a Super Bowl run is extremely difficult. Winning is hard, but staying healthy is hard and unpredictable. Or is it?
For the Cincinnati Bengals, they seem to have a grasp on managing it. They suffered their bruises here and there last year, but they ended up in Los Angeles with the vast majority of their initial starting lineup intact.
Maintaining that health in order to uphold their AFC Champion status will be tough, but expect head coach Zac Taylor and strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese to utilize the same tactics they’ve been using since arriving in Cincinnati.
The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. expanded on Taylor and Boese playing off data that recommends light offseason work for prolonged regular season health in his latest Q&A article:
The type of health the Bengals enjoyed this past year does go back to luck. Injuries always do. However, the Bengals are ultra-reliant on the technology that tells them when guys are fatigued, overextended or just need days off at practice. Taylor focused his offseason routines, camp practices and season schedules on keeping players fresh for Sundays. It’s tough to pull back on practice reps, but when trainer Joey Boese says his eyes and the numbers say to back off, he’s done it.
One of the lasting impacts of the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement was a decrease in overall offseason workouts and practices. This has received criticism due to the fact that players are experiencing less contact leading up to season and are more susceptible to injuries when the pads come on for real.
But when it comes to soft-tissue injuries such as hamstrings, data shows most of them occur before the season even begins and they persist as the year goes on. Taylor’s staff has leveraged this knowledge and made avoiding these kinds of injuries a priority.
Research presented at the league meetings showed a vast majority of major soft-tissue injuries were occurring early in camp and then had high instances of reaggravation as the season progresses. Taking it easy in the summer tends to lead to availability in the winter.
Avoiding the injury bug altogether is impossible, the game is too violent to come out squeaky clean. But Taylor and Boese seem to have found their footing when it comes to managing their players and keeping them healthy as much as they can. We’ll see if it translates for a second-straight year.