We're all too familiar with suspensions and injuries crippling seasons. Aqib Talib was a walking suspension waiting to happen. Every hopeful note of Tanard Jackson's return was accompanied by another suspension. Eric Wright lost a lucrative (overpaid) contract because of a suspension. Carl Nicks' recurring foot problems crippled the offensive line last year. Gerald McCoy missed his first two seasons with identical injuries to opposite arms before turning into an All-Pro defensive tackle.
This year, though, the Buccaneers have been exceedingly lucky. No suspensions so far. Not even the threat of a suspension based on some off-field incident that has yet to be resolved. No new, season-ending injuries. No one tearing an ACL in a charity basketball game, or popping his hamstring while trying to stay in shape.
Other teams have not been so lucky, losing key players like Sean Lee, Sean Weatherspoon and Kiko Alonso to injury. Daryl Washington and LaVon Brazill will miss the entire season due to suspensions, while two of the best young wide receivers in the NFL may never see the field again due to their own stupidity and the league's stance on substance abuse. The Jaguars and Browns will have to find ways to run an offense without Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon. Other promising young players like Dion Jordan and Lane Johnson will miss at least four games because of substance abuse or performance enhancing drugs.
All of that, and we haven't even reached the training camp portion of the offseason. That alone is a victory for the Bucs, whose sole significant loss so far is Carl Nicks' continuing struggles with his foot -- and the star lineman's participation this season is merely in doubt rather than completely out of the question.
Of course, this is not going to stay like this. No team gets through a season without suffering a number of significant injuries. The Kansas City Chiefs lost just 28 games worth of starters, per Football Outsiders' measures, which is not much, but still the approximate equivalent of two season-ending injuries. And the Chiefs saw their luck even out in the playoffs, when they lost their first game to Andrew Luck and the magical comeback after suffering a slew of in-game injuries.
This, incidentally, is another reason to believe the Bucs will improve this offseason. You know, beyond the influx of talented players, a new coaching staff and all those happy-feely stories we've read. The Bucs were one of the more-injured teams in the NFL last year, which is unlikely to happen again.
The fact that the Bucs have been lucky so far in their (lack of) offseason incidents and injuries is a win, but it's important to remember that this is not any indication that the Bucs are going to stay injury-free. Training camp is around the corner, and at the end of the preseason, we'll see injured reserve start to fill up -- whether that's with undrafted free agents who wouldn't have made the roster anyway, or with key, established starters will determine a large part of Tampa Bay's fate this year.
Here's to hoping they get lucky, for once.