It's been a rough week. Here's a recap of all the injury news ranked by how much it will affect the team going forward:
1. Kelvin Hayden is out a month-This is actually the worst of the news. Indy plays their next four games against teams with good offenses (Houston, NE, Baltimore). Losing Hayden is a major blow. Sure he'll probably be back for the playoffs, but where and who the Colts play could be greatly compromised by his absence. Impact Rating: 5 bandages (out of five)
2. Anthony Gonzalez is out 2-3 more weeks-First, can we can the whole "Colts lied to us" crap? There is a difference between an injury taking longer to heal and getting lied to about it. He went in for a scope yesterday. Do you think they would have waited that long to scope him if they thought he was hurt worse than they said? Gonzo's injury is a serious blow. Garcon's play has deteriorated week to week, and his DVOA is down to -14% (57th in the league) and his catch rate is 50%. That means he only catches half the balls thrown at him, and he is about 14% worse than an average WR would be. This team needs Gonzo back and soon. Impact Rating: 3 bandages
3. Tyjuan Hagler is on IR (done for the year)-Hagler took the job from Phil Wheeler right before the season opened. The Colts' run defense has been solid, so taking out a starting linebacker (even a reasonably fungible one) hurts. Still, Wheeler has shown flashes before, and hopefully he'll be able to step in. Impact Rating: 3 bandages
4. Marlin Jackson is on IR (done for the year)-This is depressing from a personal level since everyone loves MJax. It also takes away the hope that the Indy defense was going to find another gear. The pass D has been outstanding with the rookie corners, but a healthy Jackson and a healthy Hayden promised to take things up another level. Still, the D has been playing without Jackson most of the year anyway, but the dream secondary of Bethea, Hayden, Sanders and Jackson will probably never play together again. The Colts D now is what it is (which is very good), but I see little hope it will get even better. Impact Rating: 2 bandages
5. Bob Sanders is reported to have a torn biceps (done for the year)-You don't get to whine when injury prone players get hurt. Indy knew Sanders was an injury risk, and they have a more than adequate backup plan. Bob's barely played anyway, so it's hard to argue that his injury will hurt the defense. Again, however, the 'extra gear' is gone. This D is what it is. All we needed was for Bob to be able to play in January and to lose him to an injury totally unrelated to his offseason knee surgery is devastating emotionally. Impact Rating: 1 bandage
Every team has a threshold. There is a level of injury that a team can sustain before you start to see slippage on the field. The Colts have the depth to cover these losses, but we are right up against the wall now. Another major injury and 2009 will become just like 2007 and 2008. Bob and MJax were already absorbed well. Gonzo's been missed, but 18 has kept the ship afloat. Hayden needs to come back.
There's no panic yet, but we need to start getting some good news quickly on the injury front. As the team stands right now, assuming that Gonzo and Hayden return, this team is still Super Bowl cailber. Take out one more piece though, and odds begin to drop.