The Eagles' injury luck
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The Eagles' injury luck
Sheil Kapadia, Philly.com
There were quite a few factors that contributed to the Eagles' disappointing 8-8 record in 2011.
But injuries, comparatively speaking, were not one of them.
Danny Tuccitto of Football Outsiders recently wrote an article about Adjusted Games Lost (AGL), a metric the site uses to measure which teams were most and least affected by injuries.
Here's a primer on what exactly the stat measures:
To refresh memories, the key ideas underlying AGL are that all players don't affect winning and losing equally, and missing a game isn't the only way a player injury affects winning and losing. Injuries to starters, important situational reserves (e.g., nickel cornerbacks), and injury replacements (i.e., new permanent starters) count towards AGL, whereas injuries to benchwarmers don't. Similarly, injuries that land a player on injured reserve affect AGL more than injuries that force a player to be listed as "questionable," which in turn affect AGL more than injuries that lead to a "probable" game status.
According to the numbers, the Eagles had the second-lowest AGL number in the league, meaning only the Ravens were hurt less by injuries last season. That was quite a contrast from 2010, when the Eagles ranked 27th, meaning only five teams were hurt more by injuries.
Here's Tuccitto's writeup on the Eagles' injury luck last season:
Despite having 48.2 fewer AGL than they did in 2010, ranking 25 spots higher in team health, the Eagles lost two more games, and missed the playoffs. It's true that Michael Vick had an assortment of injuries in 2011, but it turned out that he only contributed 0.2 AGL more last season than he did in 2010 (mostly because of differences in game status). Elsewhere, Philadelphia's offensive line AGL dropped by a full season's worth of games in 2011, as did their total AGL on defense. Taking their lack of injuries into account, calling the Eagles a disappointment last season might be understating it.
The note about the offensive line is a good one. By my count, the Eagles' starting offensive line only missed a total of three games due to injury last season - two by Jason Peters and one by Evan Mathis. Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans each started all 16 games. And the Eagles' right guard position (manned by Kyle DeVan and then Danny Watkins) was not hurt by injuries at all.
As we know, Peters is likely out for the season already in 2012.
Elsewhere on the offensive side of the ball, Vick missed three games completely, couldn't finish two more and was ineffective at least partly because of injury in a sixth game. DeSean Jackson started 15 of 16 games, and the only one he missed was for violating team rules, not because of injury. Jeremy Maclin missed three games, LeSean McCoy missed one, and Brent Celek toughed his way to 16 starts.
Defensively, the Eagles stayed pretty healthy too. Antonio Dixon, a rotational defensive tackle, missed 12 games, but Derek Landri played well in his place. The starting defensive line - Trent Cole, Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin - missed a total of three games.
Brandon Graham played in just three games, and Darryl Tapp missed four, but again, those were rotational players.
Question for the group: Which players can the Eagles least afford to lose to injury in 2012?
Given the way the roster is currently constructed, offensively, I'd say McCoy and Vick are at the top of the list. The defense is more difficult. Even though he didn't play great last season, I might have to go with Nnamdi Asomugha. The Eagles have question marks behind him at cornerback, and despite his struggles, quarterbacks often stayed away from Asomugha last season.
Trent Cole is the defense's best overall player, and would be missed, but at least the team has some depth at defensive end behind him.