Quantifying the effect that injuries have on an NFL team is a difficult task. Between injury designations, starter vs. reserve value, and myriad other factors, the impact of any one player’s injury is hard to define.
Football Outsiders has done the best job of distilling all of these factors down into a single number, however. Their Adjusted Games Lost metric is the gold standard for assessing the overall impact that injuries had on NFL teams over a given season and over time, and the numbers are now out for 2019.
Last season, the Packers saw an improvement in their AGL number compared to the 2018 season. In 2019, the team had an AGL value of 65.6, a number that ranked as the 14th-lowest mark among all teams. This also represented a drop of 24.1 AGL from 2018, when the team ranked 22nd.
Breaking this down further, we find that the team was particularly well off on defense, where their 26.2 AGL ranked eighth. The team lost 39.5 games on offense, good for a 17th-place ranking. This checks out as well; the Packers lost Davante Adams for four games, rookie tight end Jace Sternberger for nine, and left guard Lane Taylor for 14 (although he was on track to get benched for Elgton Jenkins anyway). Green bay also missed tight end Robert Tonyan for a stretch in around midseason and dealt with reserves Equanimeous St. Brown and Jason Spriggs going on injured reserve in the preseason.
The defense, meanwhile, saw most of the injuries strike at the linebacker position. Oren Burks missed four games early in the year with an injury he sustained early in the preseason, while his replacement, Curtis Bolton, went on IR along with EQ after the exhibition game against Oakland in Winnipeg. Safety/linebacker hybrid Raven Greene was lost for the year in week two, while his replacement, Ibraheim Campbell, started the year on the PUP list and only returned after missing nine games. Aside from those players, the only defensive starters to miss a game with an injury were rookie safety Darnell Savage (two games in weeks 6 and 7) and cornerback Kevin King (week 14).
All told, the 65.6 number is the lowest mark that the Packers have had since the 2015 season, when they finished 9th at 56.2. The mid-2010s Packers actually had a nice run, with the 2014 team finishing third at 41.9 en route to an NFC Championship Game appearance.
Here’s a look at how the team’s numbers have broken down since then. (Note that numbers for 2017 and earlier used the methodology of those years, which has been tweaked slightly for 2019 and 2018 values; however, they are roughly comparable.)
- 2019: 65.6 (14th)
- 2018: 89.7 (22nd)
- 2017: 84.8 (21st)
- 2016: 72.4 (15th)
- 2015: 56.2 (9th)
- 2014: 41.9 (3rd)
- 2013: 103.0 (31st)
- 2012: 108.1 (32nd)
- 2011: 58.7 (16th)
- 2010: 86.3 (30th)
Meanwhile, one of the Packers’ divisional opponents, the Minnesota Vikings led the way with the fewest AGL of any team in the NFL in 2019. Minnesota had just 25.6 AGL, a massive drop of 44.6 from 2018. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished second with 39.5 after exceeding 100 the year before.
Coming in last as the hardest-hit team by injury, however, was the New York Jets. Their 160.1 number came up short of only the 2016 Chicago Bears as the largest number of any NFL team since the exercise began over a decade ago.
Make sure to check out Football Outsiders’ work on AGL and much more here.