Good News for Aaron Jones, Baker Mayfield

Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones
Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 10 - The NFL retained last season's relaxed injured reserve rules for 2021, meaning that any player who is placed on injured reserve after the final roster cutdown day is eligible to return to practice after missing three weeks. As a result, we will continue to distinguish between players who will be placed on injured reserve (IR) and players who will likely miss the entire remainder of the season (Season).

Packers Halfback Aaron Jones—Knee
Packers Edge Rusher Whitney Mercilus—Bicep (Season?)

Most outlets are reporting that the knee injury which forced Aaron Jones out of Sunday's game against the Seahawks is an MCL sprain, which usually means at least a three-week absence for a halfback. Ian Rapoport provided a more optimistic viewpoint on Twitter after the player's MRI revealed a mild (i.e., low-grade) MCL sprain, but that is probably remains a touch optimistic: 90% of MCL injuries to halfbacks cause an absence of at least two games, so a one-game absence is very unlikely, and 75% of players who suffer them miss at least three games. Fortunately, the Packers have their bye in Week 13, so Jones has a very strong chance to return in Week 14 against the Bears. Until then, AJ Dillon will be the primary ballcarrier.

Edge rusher Whitney Mercilus injured his biceps, which is almost always terrible news. Over 90% of biceps tears are season-ending injuries, regardless of position. Mercilus is a recent acquisition after his release from the Texans, and he recorded his first sack in a Packers uniform against the Seahawks, but he is probably now done for the year.

Linebacker Rashan Gary injured his elbow, but reports suggest that the injury was a hyperextension with no significant injury to either the bone or ligaments.

Football Team Defensive End Chase Young—Knee (Season)

Early reports indicate that the Washington Football Team "fears" star defensive end Chase Young tore his ACL against the Chiefs. This fear is usually well-founded; the Lachman test used for on-field ACL diagnosis is one of the most accurate diagnostic procedures in professional sport. It is almost (but not entirely) unheard of for an ACL tear to be misdiagnosed, and MRI scans are usually scheduled to check for additional damage rather than to confirm the diagnosis. Even without those results, it is very likely that Young's sophomore professional season is over. This late in the year, he faces a race to be healthy in time for the start of next season, and he is almost certain to miss a significant portion of the team's offseason program. Young had a relatively meager 1.5 sacks this season after a 7.5-sack rookie campaign, but he remained a key player on Washington's front: Young had played at least 74% of defensive snaps in every game prior to Sunday's injury.

Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones injured his hip and also left the game early. Only 25% of hip injuries to tight ends cause missed time, and most of the players who miss time return after one or two games.

Raiders Fullback Alec Ingold—Knee (Season)

Alec Ingold also tore his ACL on Sunday, and he will also miss the rest of the season. Ingold is one of the few remaining dedicated fullbacks and a Raiders team captain. As with Young, he has a chance to return in time for opening day 2022, but he is likely to miss a portion of the team's offseason program while he rehabilitates his injury.

Concussions

The following players left their respective games with concussion symptoms and enter the league protocol:

  • Browns receiver Anthony Schwartz
  • Browns cornerback A.J. Green
  • Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert
  • Lions safety Tracy Walker

Based on our current data, a growing majority of players now miss at least one game following a diagnosed concussion, but around 80% return within two weeks.

Other Injuries

Broncos linebacker Baron Browning left Sunday's game with a back injury and safety P.J. Locke injured his leg. No further update is yet available for either player.

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield left Sunday's game with a knee injury, but head coach Kevin Stefanski stated after the game that the injury was a contusion (effectively a nasty bruise) and Mayfield could have returned against the Patriots had the score not been so lopsided. He expects to have Mayfield available against the Lions in Week 11. Defensive back Troy Hill was taken to hospital as a precaution after injuring his neck and did not fly back to Cleveland with the team last night. However, he was discharged after being diagnosed with a neck sprain and has been cleared to fly back today. Only around 30% of neck injuries cause missed time, and only the most worrisome cause absences of more than two games; Hill appears to have avoided anything that severe, so he should be back on the field by the start of December.

Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea suffered a very minor MCL sprain and bone bruise against Washington, but he may be able to play through the injury with a knee brace. Even if he cannot, any absence is likely to be relatively brief, certainly by the standards of MCL injuries.

Cardinals backup quarterback Colt McCoy, who has started the past two games in the absence of Kyler Murray, injured his pectoral against the Panthers and did not return. Usually, pectoral injuries in our database are terrible news, as over half are season-ending and 75% cause a multiple-game absence. However, most pectoral injuries are strains and tears caused by blocking and tackling; McCoy's appears to be some form of contusion or mild strain, which is likely to be considerably less severe. Such injuries are so rare for quarterbacks that we do not have enough data to project recovery times specific to that position. The team hopes to have Kyler Murray back for Week 11, so McCoy may not have started anyway; if neither can play, former Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback and Grey Cup winner Chris Streveler is next in line.

Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward left Sunday night's game with a stomach illness, but he is not expected to miss further time.

Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb suffered an arm contusion against the Falcons, but his absence from most of the second half was likely as much a result of the score as the injury itself. He should be fine for Week 11 and beyond.

Falcons safety Jaylinn Hawkins and tight end Hayden Hurst both left Sunday's game with injuries, but no further news is available for either player.

Jets cornerback Brandin Echols left Sunday's game with a thigh injury. Most thigh injuries to cornerbacks do not cause missed time, and around 80% of players who suffer them are back within two weeks.

Lions offensive lineman Matt Nelson injured his ankle and edge rusher Trey Flowers injured his knee, but no further details are available for either player. Defensive back Jerry Jacobs injured his groin; around half of groin injuries to defensive backs cause at least one missed game, but only 25% cause an absence of more than two weeks.

Saints halfback Ty Montgomery dislocated his pinky finger against the Titans and left the game early. Most fracture/dislocations of fingers do not cause missed games, even the type of open wound dislocation that Montgomery suffered.

Seahawks tackle Duane Brown strained his groin against the Packers. Just under half of groin injuries to offensive linemen cause at least a one-game absence, but only one in four causes an absence of more than that.

Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt is considered week-to-week with unspecified hip and knee injuries, with reports suggesting that he will miss some time. MRI scans showed no significant injury, so it may simply be a case of pain tolerance and workload for the team's star pass-rusher. Joe Haden hurt his foot but is considered day-to-day. Guard Kevin Dotson suffered a high-ankle sprain. Around 85% of high-ankle sprains to offensive linemen cause at least one missed game, and around 50% cause a multiple-game absence. Fellow guard Trai Turner also injured his ankle against the Lions, but his exact injury has not yet been disclosed.

Titans edge rusher Bud Dupree left Tennessee's victory over the Saints with an abdominal injury, but only around one in four abdominal injuries to linebackers cause even a one-game absence.

Comments

12 comments, Last at 22 Nov 2021, 5:07pm

1 Do you guys keep a running…

Do you guys keep a running AGL total during the season or is that only calculated at the end of the year?

This year feels like it's worse for the league as a whole. I know that my personal fandom could be really biasing that since the Packers are definitely the worst they have been in awhile, but I would be curious if you have week to week and can compare years, like with DVOA where you can see, best DVOA through 8 weeks, etc. Is this most injuries through 9 weeks or whatever.

3 Unfortunately

Unfortunately we generally only tally AGL at the end of the season once we’ve marked up which players count as starters or important situational reserves. 

4 That's what I thought. Wasn…

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

That's what I thought. Wasn't sure if you had been able to make it formulaic with previous seasons/games played and started and snap counts to help determine who is a starter / important rotational player, etc. Would be cool if possible and could potentially be something that might even be able to be incorporated into DVOA, but would take a lot of work of course and with how injury reporting has changed over the seasons would be even trickier.

8 Plus the changes to the IR…

Plus the changes to the IR rules. Rosters are effectively larger now, so once teams adapt (assuming they stay in place) AGL should start creeping up. Just more people to get injured.

I've got a feeling that the "gut feel" for most team's fans are that injuries are up, too, because teams are probably more liberal about declaring players out, since the roster spot's important.

10 Good point. I've mentioned a…

Good point. I've mentioned a few times that I vastly prefer the new IR rules, didn't consider the effect on AGL. Even without that this year it's pretty clear the Packers have had more injuries, but they were pretty low the last 2 years so if injury is completely random (which I don't think it is, I think it's close to completely random, I just think some of it can be mitigated) then you expect that anyway. AGL is just one of the few stats around it that help show the magnitude so I was curious. 

I wonder if there still might be a way to suss out the new IR effect on the data, at least with some level of confidence. Though probably not it would probably be masked by some other effect. I know there was a change in AGL trends just from the NFL changing the probable/questionable/out standards one year, so trying to make the data comparable witht he new IR rules, yeah....

If they do, hopefully, keep the new rules or a modified version that is less COVID specific and just more flexible than the old crappy system we'll have to adjust to a new baseline. I just think the new rules are better for players and the product on the field and I tend to be in favor of anything that actually helps the players. But even from the emotional standpoint of a fan the new rules are better. I can think of at least 3 Packers players this year who would have very likely been season ending IR at this point under the old system who I still have hope could come back. This is an entertainment industry and giving me that hope ups the value of the entertainment I'm getting. So that right there is another reason to keep a system more like the current one. I know I'm not the only person who like the new system better.

2 Merci seemed to be doing well

Sad to see.

RBSDM gonna be tested again, now with GB. Then again fans already seem to be in love with Dillon. Then again again, why did we re-sign him? Ah well...

5 Yeah it feels like they were…

Yeah it feels like they were thinking they might get Z back after the bye (so week 14). It's good that Gary only had a hyper extension when they showed the play of his arm being pinned in the middle of the pile and the rest of his body rolling the other way I got worried about much worse damage. The Mercilus injury does really suck since he has gotten a lot of snaps since joining and this game looked like it might have been a breakout and preview of the what was to come.

Yeah the running back thing will be interesting. LaFleur doesn't do single back so we'll get to see RB #3 or 4 more. But I do believe, like you, that while there are certainly running backs that are better than others, the marginal value just isn't worth a big investment. Considering that in high school top athletes are always going to play the position, even on teams with multiple good athletes because you can support multiple good RB but generally not multiple QB's. That effect gets a little lesser in college but you still have plenty of teams, epitomized by WI, where the running backs drive the team.

So you have a very wide pipeline of talent. You have a lot of players that get high level experience with it. It's a position where the minimum level of play to be effective is not high, mistakes, outside of fumbling don't feel as costly. It's so much easier to find someone who is good enough that you should absolutely abuse the rookie pay scale then move on when that contract is done. It sucks for the players, big time, but for the team the player doesn't matter as much. So while I am definitely team "Running games still matter" I'm also team "Specific running backs have very little additional value". Sure there is value in being better at pass pro and route running and knowing the offense, but it's also easier to pick that up cold than at many other positions. Part of that is because while the names may be different there are only so many run plays and reading your blocking isn't all that different even in different systems.

Of course that's just a long winded version of fungible with high supply.

It has to be the most replaceable position on team (and this team has had to replace a lot of snaps at a lot of positions this year). Jones was getting 65% of the snaps. Dillon was getting 34%. So Dillon should get 65% and Hill/Taylor/street free agent should get 35%. It's not even a full replacement especially since the rotation was more series based and less situation based. Dillon was already doing everything Jones was doing just every 3rd series, basically and by DVOA was doing it about the same. Going into the Seattle game they were both at 7.3% rushing DVOA. Jones was at 9.4% receiving Dillon 10.4% though small sample size for Dillon means there may be a few plays have an outsized effect to give him the 1% lead. By DVOA they have to replace 1/3rd of their snaps with something that is likely marginally worse than what they have and will likely still give positive DVOA.

Yes anyone who has watched games knows that Jones and Dillon come by their nearly identical value in different fashions but it's the same result. Basically it breaks down to Jones avoids more tackles for extra yardage and Dillon breaks more tackles for extra yardage when the blocking isn't ideal. When the blocking is they both tend to get the same 8+ yard plays out of it. The replacement is likely to get those same 8+ yards with good blocking but likely won't be as good at avoiding or breaking tackles as Jones/Dillon and so will lose margins there, but it should matter very little.

Hmm maybe that's it. RB, like P, has the most individual player value when things go wrong and the least individual player value variance when things go right. Yep I just compared RB to P.

7 Hadn't heard anything on Zada.

But that makes sense and is good.

RBs are certainly more effective at lower levels where things are still 1st and 10 but it's a lot more palatable since the average is higher. NFL defenses are quick enough to snuff out NFL runs though. Running games still matter (like leading late in games, big advocate for them running out the clock and not going empty in such situations) but like you said, RBs themselves are more interchangeable than other positions.

This place is nicer since all of Packers twitter is trying to take a victory lap on Dillon (and his 3.1 ypc yesterday) being drafted. The nuance of "hey you already spent two picks on a guy that'll never play (turns out not even be active one game), why did you draft another guy that'll barely play and didn't catch passes in college for your next pick when you have other needs, like did you not look at the current RB room consisting of a 4th and 5th rounder with the 5th being apparently someone you feel like extending big bucks at?" is surely lost in a good faith discussion. 

None the less, process over results. Still overdrafted but that doesn't mean terrible player (dead on league average ypc for him this year). I didn't want to draft one at all last year but knowing GB I knew they would at some point because...GB. And I actually watched Dillon, not super agile (hence 26th %tile 3C, no SS) but 21 recs in 35 career games aint a great starting point either (ie Jamaal Williams 60 in 43 career college games, Jones 71 in 35, Jonathan Taylor final year alone was 26 in 13 games). Would've been more acceptable, later, as a hybrid FB if they felt that strongly about adding another RB. Hopefully they don't feel the need to draft (another) one in 2022 as Jones/Dillon/Hill should be fine. 

Hill is out for the year though. Taylors 5 yard run on 1st & 10 and then 2 yard run on 2nd & 1 didn't look terrible so should be fine as a RB2 stopgap. And he was an UDFA but he'll get more 3 snaps on offense the next couple games.

Good description on Jones and Dillon coming to the same result in different ways. I've long been skeptical of broken tackle stat emphasis as I think it'd be better to avoid them all together, whether by speed, quickness, etc. Breaking them is good in the moment but why are they in that position in the first place (slow, bad vision)? Doesn't seem like a stable thing to constantly do in ones season/career as tacklers can vary wildly I assume. Like, Denver has the lowest rushing attempts per broken tackles but does anyone consider them the best rushing room? Well Henry gets most of his teams rushes so where is TN? Oh 29th. Zeke is having a bit of bounce back season and Pollards ballin. Dallas is 31st. You want an OL to open up massive holes (a very underrated aspect of their game but that theory is for another time) and RBs to take advantage of them and squeeze their way past without "contact" all the way to the house and break tackles as a last resort (Indy 11th for example perhaps).

Also good last paragraph. How does the position values go. LS<P<K<RB<rest? RB and P are close though, so not a bad comparison. 

9 At first

I was thinking "He's likely to look on a season ending injury as a good thing.".  Then I remembered he wasn't on the Texans anymore.

12 Well we didn't win

Aaron Jones MVP? Or is it Rodgers? Aaron will win either way!