If there's one drum the average Falcons fan will beat until his or her knuckles are bloody, it's the one that loudly demands the firing of the strength and conditioning staff. Cue gnashing of teeth:
@thisisdumb1981 no changes there.— Jay Adams (@FalconsJAdams) February 11, 2015
Given the team's spate of injuries the last two seasons, the urge to blame A.J. Neibel and his staff is understandable and inevitable. The Falcons were absolutely devastated by attrition along the offensive line and on defense in 2013 and 2014, and given that those injuries took what might have been mediocre-to-okay seasons and turned them into dreadful ones, a lot of fans were justifiably angry. The sense that this can't possibly be random, that the S&C staff was better off under previous coach Jeff Fish, who several players credited with improving their strength and agility during his tenure in Atlanta.
Science shows us that human beings have trouble accepting randomness, but I'm going to go out on a long limb and say that the incidence of injuries over the last two years was probably largely random. Football players play a violent, injurious game for 16-plus weeks a year, and the Falcons were extraordinarily fortunate to avoid major injuries from 2008-2012, further conditioning us to believe that the team had some kind of magic bullet for avoiding injuries that disappeared the moment A.J. Neibel set foot in Atlanta. That's made even less likely when you consider that Neibel was a major player at the team's physical therapy center during the time when the Falcons were experiencing their remarkable run of few injuries.
In all likelihood, the great majority of those injuries probably came through no fault of the strength and conditioning staff, unless they're practicing some dark art I'm not aware of. Chances are good the staff was never even in danger of losing their jobs.
You needn't fear another spate of injuries in 2015 any more than usual, in other words, simply because Neibel is on staff. We'll just hope the Falcons' luck swings the other way in 2015 and beyond.