- Scott Kacsmar, Football Outsiders
Injuries not only shape a NFL team's current season, but also can have an impact on future team building. One injury can open a position the team thought was filled. For example, defensive tackle Henry Melton was a rising star in Chicago and played last season under the franchise tag before suffering a torn ACL just three games into 2013. He eventually signed with Dallas earlier this month.
Football Outsiders has created an Adjusted Games Lost (AGL) metric to calculate how much teams were impacted by injuries (2013 report can be found here). AGL is based on two principles: (1) injuries to starters, injury replacements and important situational reserves matter more than injuries to bench warmers; and (2) injured players who do take the field are usually playing with reduced ability, which is why Adjusted Games Lost is based not strictly on whether the player is active for the game or not, but instead is based on the player's listed status that week (IR/PUP, out, doubtful, questionable or probable).
Since 2008, AGL has had a year-to-year correlation of 0.29, which is neither strong nor insignificant. It just means what happened to a team injury-wise in one season is not a great predictor of what will happen the following season. There is a lot of randomness in how injuries, especially those of the severe variety, occur.
Last season's teams sitting on the extreme ends of the health spectrum are the ones most likely to regress to the average in 2014. The top and bottom three teams in AGL are the ones we will focus on here.
The Giants' 144.6 AGL is the highest in our database, which goes back to 2000. That's more than twice the 2013 league average of 70.2, which for the third straight year represented a new high. So perhaps injuries keep increasing or teams are more honest in reporting them.
New York was hit hardest at running back, interior offensive line and the secondary. Between an injured offensive line and M.A.S.H. unit at running back, it's no wonder the running game was so poor. David Wilson's herniated disk in his neck was the most severe injury and it could keep him out of action in 2014, if not longer. He had surgery this offseason, but neck injuries are always delicate situations. The Giants added some insurance with Rashad Jennings (Raiders) after his career year. That should work better than having to sign Brandon Jacobs, Peyton Hillis or see if Andre Brown will break his leg for the third year in a row.
Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders uses the Adjusted Games Lost metric to determine which teams were most, least affected by injuries last season -- and which ones could see a boost or decrease in 2014 performance as a result.