Stat Analysis
Advanced analytics on player and team performance

2011 Adjusted Games Lost

by Danny Tuccitto

Peyton Manning's degenerating cervical disc and subsequent surgery dominated headlines and had far-reaching implications during the 2011 season -- and subsequent offseason -- like no other injury situation in recent NFL history. We've all had the details drilled into our heads over the past year, so I won't recap them here, but suffice it to say that enough dominos fell to have a decent-sized double-sixes tournament. Looking back, not even Tom Brady's knee injury in 2008 ended up meaning so much to so many cities.

Seemingly lost in all the hoopla surrounding Manning, though, was that plenty of other teams saw their fates determined in part by player health (or lack thereof). For instance, just ask Texans fans what they think might have been if Matt Schaub's foot injury -- and let's not forget Matt Leinart's noncompliant collarbone -- didn't force fifth-round rookie T.J. Yates into the starting lineup during their playoff run. In contrast, the 49ers' unexpected ascension into the NFL elite probably would not have happened if their "shallow chart" on defense didn't benefit from an almost pristine injury record.

Of course, every fan base plays the what-if game after their team's season is over, and injuries usually play a central role in the game. Sometimes blaming injuries is justified, and other times it isn't, so let's put some hard data to use here. Using Football Outsiders' adjusted games lost (AGL) metric, let's find out which teams were most (and least) infected with the injury bug during the 2011 regular season.

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.

Before we get into last season's AGL totals for specific teams, let's first look at a few leaguewide trends that have emerged over the past few years, the most glaring of which has to do with the sheer amount of AGL that teams have been experiencing over the course of the past decade. Below is a graph showing the trajectory of aggregated AGL over time across the entire NFL.

Essentially, injuries cost players nearly double the number of AGL in 2011 as they did in 2002. Converting the numbers in the graph to team averages, we're talking about the average team losing 60.5 adjusted games due to injury last season, as opposed to 33.6 a decade ago. That's the equivalent of having an additional two important players miss an entire season.

The obvious question here is, "Why?" Certainly, if we focus only on the one-year increase from 2010 to 2011, there's a pretty obvious culprit: the lockout. Of course, it stands to reason that the league's increased emphasis on player safety should have at least resulted in less steep of an increase. There's also the possibility -- close to a statistician's heart -- that 2011 was just a random fluctuation.

Whatever the reason for last season's uptick, the increasing trend over a 10-year period -- or even a seven-year period if you want to look at it that way -- is unmistakable. For the long-term trend, we have several hypotheses that we're in the process of fleshing out, which you'll likely see addressed in Football Outsiders Almanac 2012 (available in July). They include, but of course are not limited to, the following: (1) players are actually "more injured" in the general sense, (2) teams are reporting more injuries, (3) injury information is more available now than it was a decade ago, and (4) the AGL method needs an update similar to how Aaron revamps DVOA every so often due to changes in the nature of the game.

One thing we can say right now with confidence is that, as far as weekly injury reports go, teams do appear to be listing more players, and the increase can be seen among both starters and reserves. Specifically, if we look at the total number of injury listings in our database, we find that 2011 (4,357) had over 500 more than in 2008 (3,755) and over 1,000 more than in 2002 (3,317).

What's more, the past three seasons suggest that teams might be engaging in a bit of what I'll call "probable dumping:" After averaging about 1,300 probable listings from 2002 to 2008, the league has averaged a shade under 2,000 since 2009. Whether you think that's due to being conservative with injuries (a la Bill Polian) or playing shenanigans with reports (a la Bill Belichick) depends on your level of dispositional cynicism. We'll remain agnostic for the time being.

A second important trend is that year-to-year AGL correlations for each team have been much higher over the past three seasons than in the prior seven. Take the Seahawks, for instance. Their AGL has gone from 78.4 (ranked 28th) in 2008 to 75.2 (27th) in 2009 to 61.5 (24th) in 2010 to 78.6 (27th) in 2011. To be sure, we're still not seeing this sunrise-esque level of consistency across all teams, so the year-to-year correlation across the league isn't massive (in the 0.30 range). Nevertheless, that's a difference from 2000-2008, when the year-to-year correlation was .09.

The final leaguewide trend, and perhaps the one that's most definitive, is that NFL teams have officially completed their 10-year plan to eliminate "doubtful" as an injury listing worthy of public consumption. Recall that the way injury reports are supposed to work is that "probable" means a 75 percent chance of that player participating in the upcoming game, "questionable" means a 50 percent chance of playing, and "doubtful" means a 25 percent chance of playing.

It's been known for years that those guidelines aren't anywhere near what teams actually follow. That said, take a look at the graph below, which shows game participation rates for both starters (complete lines) and reserves (dotted lines) based on whether the players were listed as probable (green), questionable (amber), or doubtful (red).

There appear to be two clear ways doubtful is different from probable and questionable. First, whereas reserves play far less often than starters when they're listed as probable or questionable, there's basically no difference between the two groups in playing frequency when doubtful.

Second, and more importantly, the rate at which probable and questionable players actually play has remained level over the past decade. In contrast, doubtful players have gone from playing about 15 percent of the time in 2002 to playing only about 1 percent of the time in 2011. Furthermore, it's basically been that way since 2007.

The important point here isn't so much that the doubtful rate diverges from the league guideline. We can say the same about the probable rate, and -- again -- everyone knows this already. Rather, it's that shenanigans in the context of doubtful have increased over time, and to such an extent that the doubtful listing is completely meaningless.

So, to recap, what our injury data shows is that coaches have been "probable dumping" the past three years, and have been undermining the value of doubtful with increasing fervor over the past 10.

With that out of the way, here are the 2011 AGL totals for every team:

Team 2011 AGL 2011 Rank 2010 AGL 2010 Rank
BAL 18.8 1 50.9 15
PHI 21.9 2 70.1 27
NO 24.6 3 45.0 13
DET 28.0 4 51.0 16
NYJ 30.4 5 41.9 12
MIA 31.7 6 51.0 17
TEN 37.7 7 31.6 6
SF 38.4 8 27.4 4
ATL 48.6 9 16.1 3
MIN 48.8 10 55.4 20
HOU 50.1 11 55.2 19
TB 51.4 12 60.8 23
CIN 51.8 13 62.4 25
CHI 54.5 14 12.3 2
DEN 55.4 15 51.7 18
GB 58.7 16 86.3 30
Team 2011 AGL 2011 Rank 2010 AGL 2010 Rank
PIT 60.5 17 49.9 14
DAL 62.5 18 31.8 7
KC 65.5 19 10.0 1
WAS 67.5 20 69.9 26
BUF 71.0 21 41.7 11
CLE 71.8 22 94.7 32
SD 72.6 23 39.6 10
JAC 73.4 24 37.6 8
OAK 78.0 25 30.5 5
NYG 78.3 26 58.1 22
SEA 78.6 27 61.5 24
IND 84.7 28 90.5 31
ARI 86.8 29 38.3 9
NE 97.5 30 72.5 28
CAR 109.2 31 75.0 29
STL 110.0 32 56.9 21

Let's start with a few teams -- other than Indianapolis -- that had their seasons short-circuited by injury.

With their 110.0 AGL, the 2011 St. Louis Rams became the second-most injured team since 2002. Only the 2009 Buffalo Bills had it worse off. And like those Bills, the main contribution to the 2011 Rams AGL came from their defensive backfield, where their top three cornerbacks -- four if you count early-camp casualty Jerome Murphy -- were already out for the year by Week 10.

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Also not helping matters were another year of carnage at wide receiver (29.0 AGL after 26.4 in 2010) and 5.7 AGL for Sam Bradford. With injuries affecting the (offensive and defensive) passing game this much, it's no wonder St. Louis went from the cusp of the playoffs to winning only two games.

The team that saw the largest absolute increase in AGL (from 10.0 to 65.5) was Kansas City, so it's no surprise they lost three more games last season than in 2010. The interesting thing about the Chiefs is that about 60 percent of their AGL came from only four (albeit vital) players: Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki, and Eric Berry. Otherwise, they were an incredibly healthy squad: If not for those four significant losses, they would have ranked third overall.

Moving on to teams that saw their win totals clearly benefit from increased health in 2011, we have the two playoff participants from the NFC North. Detroit went from a team ranked in the middle of the AGL pack in 2010 to one of the healthiest teams in the league last season. Most of that good fortune came at quarterback, where Matthew Stafford's newfound durability resulted in a full season's worth of improved AGL at the position.

Classifying Green Bay as a team helped by increased health seems a bit odd given that they were coming off a Super Bowl championship in 2010. But remember that they only won 10 games that year. The same way improved health can be the catalyst for a rise from mediocrity (as in Detroit), it can also play a role in a 10-6 team improving to 15-1. Healthy seasons from Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant dropped AGL at tight end and running back from 26.6 to 1.3, which likely contributed to a 24.5% improvement in offensive DVOA.

There were also a couple of teams that enjoyed relatively healthy seasons, but failed to capitalize on their good fortune. The New York Jets finished 2011 as one of the five least injured teams in the league, ranking seven spots higher than they did in 2010, but they lost three more games and dropped from sixth to ninth in total DVOA.

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The Jets have nothing on the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles, though. 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.

Finally, two teams in 2011 were what you might call the Bizarro Eagles: teams that found a ton of success despite ranking among the most injured in the league. You might also call them "last year's Super Bowl participants." Both the New York Giants and New England Patriots ranked in the bottom quartile of total AGL, and both saw their defenses decimated by injury over the course of the season.

For New England, almost half of their 57.6 AGL on defense came in the secondary (27.6), which is bad news for a team that has five or more defensive backs on the field over 60 percent of the time. For New York, last year's injury headlines were about the secondary and defensive line, but the largest AGL contribution on defense was from linebackers (23.4 out of 53.2). By the time Super Bowl XLVI came around, the Giants were down to their fourth-string middle linebacker, Chase Blackburn, who ironically ended up making the signature defensive play of the game.

Although the Patriots and Giants certainly deserve credit for successfully overcoming injuries last season, these weren't unprecedented feats by any means. In fact, last season marked the third year in a row -- and sixth time in the last nine years -- that the Super Bowl champion ranked in the bottom quartile of total AGL. It was also the third time in six years that both participants ranked 25th or lower.

Clearly then, as much as we talk about the importance of staying healthy, last year's Giants and Patriots showed us that doing so isn't necessary for a Super Bowl run. I guess you could say that last year's Eagles showed us that too, but not in a good way.

Next week, I'll profile the most- and least-injured team units from last season. Hint: The two most-injured units weren't even mentioned in today's article.

Comments

85 comments, Last at 15 Jun 2012, 3:45pm

1 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

How many years in the last 5 have the Rams been in the top 3 or 4 for most AGL? It seems to happen every year. Different players, same results.

4 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

I wonder if this is due to the relative skill of teams' training staffs? I know that in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns are widely rumored to have trainers that do an excellent job at keeping players healthy, while the Portland Trailblazers' trainers have mishandled injuries on a number of occasions.

I sort of doubt that this is the case, simply because NFL teams have enough money to hire the best of the best, but it might be worth exploring.

2 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

I imagine if NE's AGL dropped from 97.5 to 84.7, but they lost Brady for the entire season, they would not have done quite as well as they did last year.

22 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

True, but I would bet that they would have done better than 2-14.

In 2008, they lost Brady for the entire season, and had the third most AGL in the league at 79.1, and yet finished 11-5, missing the playoffs only on tiebreakers. Not quite your scenario, but almost.

The impact of Manning's loss was primarly because the Colts had no plan B at all, and not a lot of talent beyond Manning.

32 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

The Pats also got to play a weak schedule that year (28th according to DVOA). Indy's schedule this year was 8th in DVOA. The Colts would have been bad this year no matter the schedule but probably not as dreadful. And the 2008 Pats benefitted from playing the NFC West (average DVOA: -21.63%) and not the NFC East (average DVOA: 18.83%).

50 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

True, but my point was that there are injuries and there are injuries. Given that the odds of the Colts making the Superbowl or even the playoffs without Manning were slim and none, I would argue it was a rational and good approach to put all of their eggs in that one basket without a backup plan. If the goal is to win and you realize you possess the one thing (Manning) which is special, it makes little sense to devote tons of resources to what you will do if that resource fails - you will lose if that resource fails no matter what!

Anyway my problem with the approach as I understand it above is a simple counting stat like "time starters miss" does not remotely account for the total impact of who missed the time. The point that the Eagles were really healthy as a team is valid, but it misses the more important fact that the single most important part of the team (Vick) not only missed 4 critical games but also played injured in others, and the dropoff between him and his backup isn't captured in the methodology above.

In a similar way, you can argue from the presentation above that the Pats were unhealthy, but the fact is the single most important part of their team was healthy and productive the whole year, and thus invalidates the basic thrust of the article.

52 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

"In a similar way, you can argue from the presentation above that the Pats were unhealthy, but the fact is the single most important part of their team was healthy and productive the whole year, and thus invalidates the basic thrust of the article."

No, really. Football is a team game.

Brady had a great year, but he wasn't even considered in the top two among QBs last season.

The Patriots had a lot of injuries, but almost all of them were on defense. They lost Koppen early and missed a lot of games from Vollmer, but the offense was essentially intact all season long.

In contrast, the defense was in shambles, esp. the secondary. Andre Carter played well enough for half the season to make the Pro Bowl, and then went on IR.

So the story isn't that the presence or absence of one player made all the difference (this isn't the NBA). Rather, the Pats maintained an elite offense that was good enough to overcome a defense that started poor and was devastated by injuries.

55 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

A Quarterback who, along with Brees, broke a 25+ year old record for yards, had 39 TDs to only 12 INTs, and ranked #3 in DVOA and EYards wasn't all that important to the teams' success. OOOOOOO-kay then.

66 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

You're totally misreading his point
"the Pats maintained an elite offense"
I would say that allows for the fact that Brady was extremely important.

My take is that it's impossible to have a metric that properly identifies the differences in "value" between a Manning and a Brady and their backups; it's inherently subjective. This is the next best thing, and it's still a useful statistic.

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58 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

One correction: "played injured in others" is why probable/questionable/doubtful are included (proportionally) in the statistic.

To your larger point: we don't have good enough individual metrics to evaluate just how devastating the loss of a given right guard is. An injury to Peyton Manning obviously has a bigger effect than an injury to Rex Grossman, but quantifying that is a large undertaking, and it's harder at other positions. AGL is a good start at describing how injured a team was in any given year. Adjusting for the individuals involved would be an improvement, but if FO can come up with ratings for those individuals, AGL will be a relatively unimportant use.

68 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

I get annoyed when someone presents a statistic, and when you point out the obvious flaws in that statistic for any meaningful analysis, you get the whole "this is just a start." The writer makes statements drawing conclusions about how great a season team A has despite a lot of injuries, and how dissapointing team B had even though they were healthy, when you consider the AGL measure. However not considering the other factors which make up the quality of games lost totally ignores the fact that there are games lost and there are games lost.

A more honest article would have at least admitted that this kind of counting statistic is so flawed as to be almost without real value. If you are presenting a statistic so flawed it will lead to the belief that just because you can measure something, it MUST be meaningful. That is an extremely common fallacy of the information age, and when I see such an obvious abuse of it I sometimes speak up. There's a lot of data but little insight in such work.

73 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

"The best is the enemy of the better."

I get annoyed when someone complains that a new statistic doesn't include every possible adjustment, usually to help confirm the complainer's preconceived notion. The work that people here and elsewhere are doing to help us understand football better isn't easy. Some of the metrics they come up with aren't useful, and many can be (and are being) improved, but it's all part of the process of coming up with better stats. Constructive criticism is a useful part of the process.

AGL is an attempt to simply describe how injured teams were. Fans of every team can tell you how their team was hurt by injuries, but even a relatively simple counting stat can give us an idea of which teams were hurt more. Yeah, it would be nice if there was a way to compare the value of Aaron Smith's injury to Andre Johnson's (and if you can do it, please go ahead), but to claim that AGL is "almost without real value" because it doesn't know just how much losing any given player hurts his team presumes a level of information that we don't have. Not every statistic is going to provide a great deal of insight; sometimes collecting data is useful in and of itself, and it's certainly a step along the way to more insightful metrics.

78 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

seconded, the colts sucked no matter who was at qb, whether it was painter or collins or orlovsky. Outside of one season when he had a good td to int ratio(see alex smith), matt cassel has been nothing short of putrid-whats more likely, he was great with ne then hit his head and became mediocre - or that ne made him look much better than he ever was.

3 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

The Lions not only got a full season out of Stafford, but also got 79 out of 80 possible starts from their OL. (Corey Hilliard started one game for Gosder Cherilus, who ended up playing in the game anyway.) Sure, the line isn't great, but at least they played virtually the entire season as a unit. That continuity has to make a difference.

Their receiving corps was also healthy for the majority of the season: Scheffler missed one game (although I can't recall if it was due to injury or something else), but everyone else was available the entire season. That really helped to offset the injury problems they had at RB.

6 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

Not to be a statistical snob, but that AGL over time graph should be individual points for each year (not a connected spline) with a linear regression line. It would illustrate your point more clearly, and makes 2011 look less like a fluke (I don't believe it is).

7 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

One thing that this study misses is how many injuries a team has at one time.

I think 40-50 AGL is manageable for a team if it's spread out over the year, but when it all hits at once in the last 5 games, they have no chance.

12 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

That was somewhat the case with the Giants. While they did lose a frightening number of defensive players in the preseason to the IR, several key defensive players got healthy by the end of the year, enough to turn them into a pretty wretched unit to a good one in the postseason.

(and I believe the Jets lost only 1 more game in 2011 than in 2010)

15 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

"One thing that this study misses is how many injuries a team has at one time."

Or if one of the injured players (who is knocked out for the last 6 games of the season) is named Jay Cutler and his backup is named Caleb Hanie. Or if two weeks after that injury, another player (Matt Forte) on the same team is injured and knocked out for the season, replaced by a backup (Marion Barber) who directly costs his team two games by (1) failing to line up properly on the line of scrimmage, resulting in a TD pass to him being nullified due to the penalty for illegal formation, and (2) in another game, allowing the defense to push him out of bounds to stop the clock inside the two minute warning when all the team had to do was run out the clock, leading to the opponent gettting the ball back, tying the game on a long field goal, and then winning the game in overtime when Barber again makes a critical mistake, losing a fumble while the team is in field goal range, letting the opponent get the ball in decent field position and drive for the game-winning field goal.

29 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

All that said, I like what Barber offered last year. It seemed like the first time in a long time the Bears had been able to run in short yardage effectively. I'm actually sort of sad to see him go. Maybe I'm an idiot.

9 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

"Next week, I'll profile the most- and least-injured team units from last season. Hint: The two most-injured units weren't even mentioned in today's article."

I'll take the Carolina Panthers Defense for 2000, Alex. If they get Jon Beason (missed 15 games) and Ron Edwards (16 games) back and close to 100% healthy, and can find a role for Thomas Davis (14 games) behind Luke Kuechly and James Anderson, the overall run defense should be greatly improved. Add a little more development and refinement for their dynamic offense, better production from their kicker and punter, and throw in a little luck, and this could be a surprise playoff contender for 2012.

10 I'd LOVE it

if you guys could put out this data for 1-A college football as well for the last couple years. Would be really useful, and no one else is really doing it (Phil Steele posts just the top and bottom injuries lost, not the large middle list).

11 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

Wow, I knew they Eagles had great injury luck last year (I can only recall Vick and Young missing games) but I had no idea it was that dramatic. Also, wondering how AGL accounts for Young missing the first few games of the season where Vick went out and they had to bring in Kafka. It probably cost them the Falcons game (well, that and terrible, terrible defense) and played a role in the (probably lost cause) Giants game. How do bench-warmers count in that sort of context?

Anyway, I think injury luck for the Eagles didn't cause under-performance - they had a lot of depth and could have weathered injuries at just about every position without much drop-off. If anything, Babin and Nate Allen missing some games might have helped them. Mainly kidding, but I think they're a team designed with a good amount of depth, especially on o-line, d-line, CB and WR, so I'm not hugely worried - now, if Mr. Frequently Injured Bell goes down after Peters, I won't be thrilled...

35 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

Anyway, I think injury luck for the Eagles didn't cause under-performance - they had a lot of depth and could have weathered injuries at just about every position without much drop-off.

It should be noted that while this is true, it's not really how you normally think of as "depth" in the defensive sense. I agree I don't think injuries would've really done anything at safety or linebacker... because they were all pretty uniformly mediocre anyway.

56 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

Oh agreed - but that's mainly a result of a fairly consistent policy on their part: always make sure the o-line, d-line, CB and QB are as good as you can get them no matter the cost, let the chips at S, LB, RB and WR fall where they may. There's almost never a significant difference between their low-upside, mediocre back-up LB's and their mediocre starting SAM and WILL backers but they also have all 6-8 starter caliber guys ready to go on d-line, year-in, year-out. (And they also seem to have a higher than normal amount of guys specifically trained to be swing guys on the lines, so if a T or a G goes down, their best back-up can jump right in with little fall-off.)

57 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

Under Reid the Eagles have drafted more 1st and 2nd round receivers than any other position except DT (tied at 5). Plus the whole TO experiment. They put a premium on receiver, they just kind of suck at evaluating it.

59 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

Yeah I don't understand how this myth got started that the eagles build solely through the lines and ignore skill positions. Outside of linebacker, they've not behaved any differently than any other team. They went after Asante samuel, they drafted nate allen in the 2nd round, they signed namdi and traded for drc. Tulus mentioned the receivers.

I actually think its a myth in general that teams draft based on scheme. Maybe the raiders do, overemphasizing speed, but everyone else drafts based on talent.

The 49ers are a defensive team and yet went offense with 4 out of their last 5 first round picks. Does anyone really know what the patriots look for when they draft players? In fact, I suspect they didn't intentionally build a two tight end offense, they just happened to draft the best players available who happened to be tight ends, similar to how they drafted vareen and ridley with their 2nd and 3rd round picks last year despite having woodhead, law firm, and kevin faulk.

60 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

Bellichick has drafted a lot of tightends and has always valued players who can do multiple things over players really gifted at one skill. So I don't think it's an accident their offense is built around tight ends.

61 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

Yeah I don't understand how this myth got started that the eagles build solely through the lines and ignore skill positions. Outside of linebacker, they've not behaved any differently than any other team.

They ignore RBs in the first round, but this is common for a lot of good teams. RBs, LBs, and safeties are round 2+. Period. The end. They've basically stated this in interviews, and it's pretty clear in the results of the draft. QB's the #1 priority. Then OL/DL. Then WR/CB. Then you fill in LB, TE, RB, and safeties in round 2+.

Also, they don't really suck at evaluating receivers. They used to. Since 2004, they've been pretty good at it. Every receiver past the 4th round has stuck for quite a long time: the worst of the 4 is Reggie Brown, and that's a pretty good record.

69 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

Even Safety, they've expressed a willingness to use a first round pick if they're convinced about "their guy."

Reid stated in interviews that he wanted to pick Brandon Merriweather a few years back. When "his guy" was gone, they traded down and picked Kevin Kolb instead, but the original target was Merriweather.

82 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

Yes, but that still would've been a relatively late pick. They didn't trade up to get him, for instance, because you just don't do that with safeties. Late first round is probably the highest they would ever go. It's not worth it. Instead they said "meh, whatever", traded down, and drafted Kolb.

70 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

First round picks and investing in depth are two very different things. In fact, they are pretty close to being unrelated things. They've invested decently at WR#1 and then very little behind it (other than hitting on Maclin and Jackson in consecutive years.) But you might have noticed how hesitant they were to give Jackson (their 2nd biggest star) a new contract and how they never hesitate to pull the trigger on contracts for LT, QB, DE or DT. Vick, McNabb, Thomas, Runyan, Justice, Cole, Patterson, Sheldon Brown, Herremans - all these guys got wrapped up in big, long-term deals without hesitation. And on top of that, they're constantly bolstering depth at those positions while treating the depth chart at WR as an after-thought (such as when they let a good prospect in Brandon Gibson go for pennies on the dollar - they'd never do the same thing with an o-lineman who showed the same amount of promise.)

I'm sure you're aware "first and second rounders" is an arbitrary cut-off point that misses what I'm saying - is the success with Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans somehow indicative that they don't have depth at those positions? Also, I do not give a shit how they found the players they found, how they developed them, whether they are draft picks or free agents - the fact is they are willing to go into the season with little depth at RB, LB and S but always have tons of depth at o-line an d-line. It's too consistent to be a mistake.

If you look at their entire drafts, they average under 1 WR per draft under Reid (they literally didn't draft a WR several years under Reid despite their frequent use of 3 receiver sets in his offensive system.) At OL, DE, DT and CB, they go bananas in every draft, throwing sheer numbers at the positions: in 2010, for instance: 4 picks for d-line, 5 DB's (Clayton was drafted to play S) and a single WR. That's one draft, but that's their MO - tons of picks at DL, DT, T, G and CB, a few picks at WR or RB, surprising QB's taken earlier than expected. Then on top of that, they bring in the absolute free agents at d-line, o-line and CB with regularity: Cullen Jenkins, Jason Peters, Javon Kearse, Jason Babin, Asomugha, Samuel, DRC. Name me their last big fee agent signing at LB, S or WR. TO. Nine seaons ago. Other than him, it's a list of bargain basement cut-rate deals: Trotter 2.0, Will Witherspoon, Takeo Spikes, Jarrod Page, Sean Jones, Kevin Curtis, Steve Smith, even question-marked DeMeco Ryans - a bunch of dubious players that had few takers.

In short, you just don't know what you're talking about. (If you want to argue that the Eagles' aren't great at developing LB's, that I would accept that. They have spent a few picks on them and yielded few results. But there's no arguing their attempts to address the position have gone with quick fixes, stop-gap solutions, projects and players nobody wants.)

71 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

There are only 2 drafts when the Eagles didn't take a receiver. 2004, when they traded for some guy named Terrell Owens, and 2007.

Other than that, you're arguing a bunch of things I didn't actually say.

(this is also the same number of drafts they choose not to take an offensive lineman)

72 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

No one denies they shortchange their linebacking core, but everywhere else it feels like they are no different than any other team. I think its purely a myth that the eagles believe in prioritizing strong lives vs other areas. One, theres no evidence of that, and 2 you could argue thats just regular old fashion coach speech like we need to establish the run and play physical.

81 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

Not... entirely. If the Eagles drafted in the top 5, they'd never draft a running back. Ever. Period. I actually think a lot of teams are like that, but those teams tend to be good (because drafting a running back high is dumb) and so they don't get the opportunity to draft high.

For the most part, I think it's safe to say the Eagles devalue linebackers, running backs, and safeties, but, well... most good teams devalue those players anyway.

13 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

Now I think people can have some answers to "Why didn't Belichick pick a defensive back with one of those two first-round selections?!"

53 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

We knew Dowling was coming back.

There was a lot of talk about the need for a safety, but it's hard to find fault with the picks he did make. I'd be reluctant to take a safety in the first round unless it was truly a pick based on talent, not need.

14 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

Now I think people can have some answers to "Why didn't Belichick pick a defensive back with one of those two first-round selections?!"

16 Re: 2011 Adjusted Games Lost

It is also worth noting that it is important how critical the decimated positions are to that team's success. Take the Giants for example, having your LBs wiped out is far preferable to having your D Line crushed by injuries. Likewise, GB in 2010 it did not make a huge difference whether Jones, Walden, or Zombo was the OLB opposite Matthews, so even huge injury numbers at that position in regards to games lost matterd little