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From the Coach’s Office: Contingency plans for injuries

Injuries are almost inevitable for the New Orleans Saints and all NFL teams, but it is how they deal with them that matters most (Photo: Parker Waters).Injuries are almost inevitable for the New Orleans Saints and all NFL teams, but it is how they deal with them that matters most (Photo: Parker Waters).

Vince Lombardi once said, "Football is like life - it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication & respect for authority." It also takes contingency planning.

A contingency plan is a course of action designed to take a possible future event or circumstance into account. A head coach and organization needs to have a well thought out action plan established that takes every possible situation into account, whether that situation occurs or not.

Bill Walsh, a Hall of Fame coach like Lombardi, believed, "Preparation is based on probability rather than certainty. You must account for every situation and contingency that can be reasonably anticipated."

Injury is one of those events where a contingency plan must be established. While it is inevitable that injuries will occur, when and where they happen is the unknown. Injuries do more than simply damage a person because they also affect teammates, the coaching staff, the organization and fans. Advanced planning allows you to continue moving forward during difficult times.

The injury bug bit the Saints really hard on Wednesday. After being relatively injury free during the first week of training camp, New Orleans fans learned that receiver Joe Morgan would be out for the rest of the season with knee issues while defensive end Kenyon Coleman tore his pectoral (chest) muscle in practice and is also lost for the season. Add this to the loss of linebacker Victor Butler during mini-camp and the Black & Gold have now lost three probable starters.

At least four other players had episodes during the course of practice Wednesday. Running back Pierre Thomas, outside linebacker Junior Galette, receiver Saalim Hakim and defensive back Keenan Lewis all left the field today with trainers. These players could have been affected by the oppressive heat or muscular issues.

I especially feel badly about Morgan's injury. He was really starting to come into his own, and was playing with confidence. He was going to be the speed receiver the Saints are seeking, and he appeared to be up to the challenge. This is also a contract year for him.

It is thought that injuries are a part of football. They are much more than that. Injuries are not simply a part of the game of football but an INTEGRAL part of the sport. How you plan and execute your plan in relation to injury is what separates successful from unsuccessful organizations.

There are two ways to deal with injuries.

One is through the development of adequate replacements. Back-up players must be constantly developed because they are truly one heartbeat away from being a starter. The mere fact that a replacement may become a starter is reason enough to teach and coach every player on the team to the best of their ability. It is never a waste of time to help a player reach their potential.

The other way of dealing with injury is player acquisition. Safety Jim Leonhard described the Saints' position best: "If they don't like what we have, I'm sure they will bring somebody in. This is a team that is going to do what it takes to win. We're going to count on the guys that we have on the roster right now and if they feel like we need help I'm sure they take care of it."


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