Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Dec 2010

Steve Smith (Giants) Out for Year

Giants wide receiver Steve Smith will miss the rest of the season with an "articular cartilage" injury to his knee.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 15 Dec 2010

15 comments, Last at 15 Dec 2010, 10:32pm by tuluse

Comments

1
by Independent George :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:48am

Interesting team-building question: assuming uniform depth, is it worse to lose a lot of players to injury in a single position, leaving a glaring weakness for other teams to exploit, or to lose a lot of players in different positions, resulting in a generally weaker team against all opponents?

2
by Dean :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:57am

I don't think you can assume unform depth - the answer would depend on how the team is built. If you have a team that's built around stars, and you lose them, you're screwed. But if you have a team that's built around stars, and you lose several other players, your stars will presumably be able to make plays and compensate. If you have a team that's balanced and deep, but lacks top end talent, you'd probably be more easily able to compensate for a broad spectrum of injuries. It would be harder to compensate for the weakness created by a glut of injuries at one position in this situation.

4
by drobviousso :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:05pm

Agreed. I think uniform depth is like a spherical cow.

14
by Purds :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 9:24pm

I have to disagree there. I think some positions are not deep on any team (QB is usually quite a drop off), but most good teams seek balance in their depth. For example, most teams don't overpay for a backup, and so at the start of the season they have a relatively balanced second string.

I think we should moot the original question. My answer would be that I'd rather lose 6 players across the board then 6 player in one position. I mean, if you were to lose 6 running backs, or 6 defensive tackles, you'd be really hurting at that one position, and a good opponent ought to be able to exploit that really devastatingly.

15
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 10:32pm

Actually, once you lose 3-4 players, losing anymore probably doesn't have an effect. They're all street free agents from that point on.

13
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:40pm

Agreed. For instance the Bears are quite deep at linebacker, but when they lost Urlacher it was still a huge deal. On the other hand they can plug in almost anyone at SLB next to Urlacher and Briggs and the defense is fine.

6
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:37pm

It's position dependent, because it depends on the talent pool available (the replacement pool). Losing lots of running backs to injury probably isn't that bad, as they're pretty replacable (especially as a runner). Ditto for linebackers in a 4-3 and inside linebackers in a 3-4.

Losing quarterbacks, offensive tackles, wide receivers, pass rushers, and cornerbacks always sucks.

9
by ammek :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:27pm

I'd take a unit composed entirely of backups over a unit half made up of starters and half made up of third-stringers or second-stringers playing out of position. Backups do take reps during the offseason and during the week; they know their duties. At some positions, players are rotated in and out often enough that the distinction between 'starter' and 'backup' is a nuance anyway.

On the other hand, being forced to play a CB at safety or a guard at OT seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

RBs and LBs are the players most likely to end up on IR. Therefore a smart franchise makes extra-thorough contingency plans for losing starters at these positions. Green Bay, meanwhile, begins the season with two halfbacks, two quarterbacks, three fullbacks and four tight ends.

11
by Marko :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:03pm

Yeah, it's been 9 years and the Pats still haven't recovered from losing their starting QB to injury.

8
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:43pm

I don't see what the uniforms have to do with anything.

3
by displaced_saints_fan :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:05pm

Not related (though I did have Smith on my fantasy team until yesterday).

Any advice on starters for our league semifinals? My RBs are mostly facing strong running defenses: Charles (vs StL), Mendenhall (vs NYJ), Forte (vs Min), Tomlinson (vs Pitt), Woodhead (vs GB).

Damn the DVOA matchups and go with the first two, right?

5
by Dean :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:16pm

You couldn't wait a couple hours for Scramble to come out and ask this there?

7
by displaced_saints_fan :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:39pm

Good point. I'm not very well organized.

10
by SteveNC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:55pm

In the spirit of previous vague headlines, would've been lots of fun if the headline had instead been "Smith Out for Year".

12
by Joseph :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:54pm

To answer the question about depth, I think you need:
1. A good front office (duh) who is always looking for those bottom-of-the-roster ST guys that are inactive if the team is healthy.
2. To keep tabs on guys that you cut in camp, esp. the guys that are the "last" guys cut. Now some will go to the practice squad, but anybody that went through camp should know most of the playbook. If he's a vet that becomes a UFA, then even more so. He probably doesn't have a backup job, and may keep working out on his own because he has income to fall back on. That rookie FA who doesn't stick on the practice squad prob. finds a job ASAP.
3. To be proactive. If player X sprains his ankle, get somebody in for a workout quickly. Sure, he may just be inactive for a week, but he might reinjure it in two weeks--and then you've already done your homework. I mean, for some players or positions, you just should EXPECT injuries (cough-Bob Sanders-cough).
4. To plan for these things with your roster/practice squad. As an earlier poster mentioned, GB might not have assembled the best roster to offset the injuries they've had. No one can really deal with injuries to more than two players at the same specific position, even on fungible positions like RB or TE. You might can get through one, maybe two games with the 3rd stringer. You might even get lucky and he really pans out. But generally, at the positions where a 3rd stringer can have an impact means that the 4th stringer is playing a lot too--and he prob. wasn't on the roster to start the year, and was prob. one of those guys that has one good 4th Q in a preseason game.

To sum up my 2 cents on some comments above--everybody deals with injuries--where team X suffers is multiple injuries at the same position, esp. if those are IR injuries--it's just too obvious of a weak spot for the opponent to attack or ignore.