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Need to Know: Did the Redskins lose more starters to injuries than other NFL teams?

Jun 24, 2015, 5:14 AM EDT

Hall injured vs Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, June 24, 36 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

More injured than most?

A favorite complaint of Redskins fans is injuries and regarding last season they seemed to have a legitimate complaint. Washington suffered more from injuries to its starters than did the average NFL team.

Football Perspective did a study on injuries to starters, calculating the average number of games started by them. While one could quibble about their methodology (we will get to that in a minute), the numbers still provide a pretty good and common sense way of comparing injuries from team to team.

The average Redskins starter started 13.1 games last year. Twenty other NFL teams were healthier by this measure. A perfect performance here would be a 16.0, meaning that all 22 starters started all 16 games. The best average belonged to the Cowboys at 14.5. The most injury-plagued team by this measure was the Titans at 12.3.

As I noted, the methodology used here is somewhat flawed. FP’s criteria was “the top 22 starters”, as in the 22 who started the most games. So Robert Griffin III, with seven starts, is part of the calculation But he missed six starts with an injury and three more for performance reasons. Those missed starts are counted the same here.

And you have Tom Compton, who was healthy but a spectator for the first seven games before pushing out Tyler Polumbus at right tackle. The Redskins had two perfectly healthy right tackles all year but it looks like the starter was injured for seven of them.

The author does not try to hide these flaws. “It should go without saying that ‘starts’ are not a perfect proxy for ‘team health’ and even if it were, ‘team health’ is not a good proxy for ‘amount by which a team was helped/harmed by injuries,'” wrote FP’s Chase Stuart. “But I did find today’s results interesting enough to share.”

Just because the study is not perfect doesn’t mean it is useless. All teams have such issues during the course of a year and as long as you’re looking at the numbers in a relative sense it’s fine. It is likely that most of the teams in the top 10 had better fortune with injuries than did the teams in the bottom 10. You just can’t try to put too fine a point on it and say that Team X was healthier than Team Y because X is ranked two spots ahead of Y.

To compare, I looked at the 22 players the Redskins anticipated having as starters for the 2014 season. Taking out starts missed for coaching decisions (i.e. player being benched, opening the game in a non-standard formation, etc.) and looking at misses strictly due to injuries, the Redskins averaged 13.4 starts per man. That’s a little better than the Football Perspective numbers had them but still in the ballpark.

There does seem to be some correlation between ranking near the top of this study and winning. The top 11 teams on the list all had winning records. Seven of the bottom eight had losing records.

Spinning this forward, how much will the new strength and conditioning staff, led by Mike Clark, help the Redskins’ injury situation? How much of it is controllable and how much is sheer luck? We will see.

Timeline

—It’s been 178 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 81 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 36; Preseason opener @ Browns 50; final cuts 73

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. colorofmyskinz - Jun 24, 2015 at 6:05 AM

    Yes last year we looked like a team in a different league. Outsized, outstrengthed, outpaced… We most certainly had the weakest team by conditioning last year. Our team could not okay 4th quarters. The best out players could produce was 3 full quarters. Just look at some of the pictures of Rackpo on the sidelines in 4 th quarters, he was absolutely gased.

    Hope conditioning changed things for us…

  2. Trey Gregory - Jun 24, 2015 at 7:12 AM

    The new strength and conditioning staff should help, assuming they’re an improvement over the previous staff. But freak injuries still happen. Hopefully we can stay healthy and had a solid season to build on.

  3. Jeffrey - Jun 24, 2015 at 7:36 AM

    All of us fans noticed the injuries past two seasons plus injuries lead to a lot of other reasons for losing all year long you work with these guys then from week 1 on you try to establish a flow an a rhythm week to week then guys start going down then players are like here we go again esp what the saw year before an that leads to changing the game plan or 2nd an 3rd string guys come in thinking they can save the day an that leads to blown assignments then you give big leads in games what I’m saying is its not just the injury itself that helps with losses

  4. kutzintl - Jun 24, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    I like the attempt at comparing teams and injuries. Unfortunately it is comparing apples and oranges. Does D Hall’s loss equate with the right tackle that we dropped? The quality of the player that is lost due to injury has to be included in the equation.. Lets note that Redskins have has\d so many pulled muscles pfver the years. Teams that have GOOD TRAINING PROGRAMS dont have so many pulled muscles. Lets see if that comes true this year

  5. xskulldog - Jun 24, 2015 at 8:39 AM

    The Redskins appeared to be in terrible condition the last few years. I went to a Carolina Panther game a few years ago and it appeared that the Redskins were undersized. Undersized and out of condition spell losing seasons. Hopefully, with the new GM and the strength and conditioning program, this will turn around. The NFL is a big man’s game and I think the GM realizes this and has made some good moves in the off season. Reading that players are running laps after they make a mistake is the type of discipline that will make these guys better football players. Time will tell if it makes a difference.

  6. murphsman - Jun 24, 2015 at 9:05 AM

    I knew there was a conditioning issue

  7. mr.moneylover - Jun 24, 2015 at 10:17 AM

    Yes…other teams thought we were soft including jay gruden and he wanted to change that…we had like 6 players or more injured last year and all were starters…barry colfield and Stephen bowen and orackpo along with trent Murphy and deangleo hall thats basically your whole defense gone… then when you lose your QB that will basically shut down your whole offense especially when you have a one dominion running back who cant catch or pass protect then you plug in a guy in like niles paul who havent caught a ball in years to play TE there was no way that team was gonna have a winning record because we didnt have the depth and the depth is still a question mark but we will find out when a player goes down…I refuse to mention the weak links in tyler polumbus and chris chester

  8. bangkokben - Jun 24, 2015 at 11:08 AM

    Injuries are part of the game. That is why you have to have depth and for the most part our depth stepped up but then you’ve got third stringers playing key roles in certain packages and special teams. Then whatever depth you had is stretched too thin. Breeland and Murphy were guys that started last year as quality depth/future starters. They started sooner due to the injuries and played admirably but forcing them into the starting line-up hurt the design of the defense.

    At the same time the Cowboys lost Sean Lee in the off-season and were able to find a surprisingly suitable replacement. The Cowboys defense is better off with Lee but played better without him. Just like the Redskins defense of 2012 played better without Orakpo.

    As for the Redskins injuries, the lion’s share was on the defensive side which also affected special teams. On offense it was Griffin and Reed for multiple games. Trent Williams missed just one game and Jackson missed a game. Hopefully we get that same kind of fortune this year. The defense should be better due to the changes of personnel including the new strength and conditioning coach. Bottom line this team needs to stay healthy to have a chance to compete.

  9. ET - Jun 24, 2015 at 1:01 PM

    The strength and conditioning program didn’t seem up to par the last few years.

    The strength part, while obvious, is less important than the conditioning aspect, IMO. Not just in terms of stamina, but flexibility as well. It’s no accident that players like Hatcher and Kerrigan have made yoga part of their conditioning routine. I’ve often wondered whether the rash of season-ending pectoral tears among Washington LBs was related to the workout program. Not a provable assertion, but I’ll bet we see far fewer pulls and tears this year.

  10. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jun 24, 2015 at 1:59 PM

    A big part of the problem is we had so few good players. So a couple of those get hurt, boom…team is even more pathetic than usual.
    ~

  11. Bryan T. - Jun 24, 2015 at 2:06 PM

    Didn’t help matters when Shanahan was drafting every injury-plagued player he could find! This should slow now that we have a real GM to add solid players. It will likely be the Eagles who face major injuries this season (Bradford, Murray, Etc.).

  12. 0324cutty - Jun 24, 2015 at 4:18 PM

    How much of it is due to the lousy cow pasture they play on.

  13. berniebernard666 - Jun 24, 2015 at 4:37 PM

    The Skins have had a terrible strength program for YEARS. I noticed it YEARS ago because they have had the same injury problems, especially on their lines, year after year after many years. I would say I have called for a change but actually there was nobody to call or I would have.

    This business of “IS JAY GRUDEN A BETTER COACH BECAUSE OF HIS OFFSEASON HIRES” is just plain ridiculous. Every single off season move has been dictated or influenced by Scott M. Do you REALLY think Gruden wanted to fire Haslett? Hell, it took WEEKS to get Haslett out of the organization after the final game. Do you really think Gruden wanted to hire his future replacement, Bill Callahan? Do you really think Gruden wants to go with RG3? In fact Gruden said, BEFORE SCOTT M CAME, that there was going to be a QB competition. AFTER Scott M comes to town, suddenly Gruden is all in with “Oh Robert is our QB. No question”.

    Gruden is WEAK. He has a tough time making ANY decisions much less tough decisions. His practices were more like Jim Zorn practices last year and Gruden and Bruce Allen practically made fools out of themselves by drafting 3 football players in 2014 who they later cut by the end of training camp. THREE DRAFT PICKS CUT. WOW. Way to waste a draft.

    No..Gruden is not ever going to be coach of the year. He is just along for the ride as Scott M and Bill Callahan mold this team. I just hope he doesn’t screw up the offense with this multiple play caller idea of his. Bad enough that last season they had delay of game penalties because Gruden was transferring the plays to his offensive Coordinator who then transferred them to the QB….but now they want to include Callahan into the mix.

    Next thing they will write it down on note book paper and have a player run it in from the sidelines. Gruden is a nice guy…just like Zorn…but they are both screwballs.

    • bangkokben - Jun 24, 2015 at 5:20 PM

      There’s no record that Gruden has had any say in any personnel moves since he’s got here. He’s a coach. That’s it. He’s a coach guaranteed another $20M over the next four seasons too. McCloughan will do his job and Gruden will do his. As for the three picks. All of them picked 186 or higher. These certainly weren’t the only draftees still not with their original teams picked that late. There’s another dozen or two. So what? That’s why there’s another GM here picking the pieces for the coach.

    • Rich Tandler - Jun 24, 2015 at 7:32 PM

      For the record, the Redskins’ season ended Dec. 28. The announcement that Haslett and the Redskins had “parted ways” came on Dec. 31.

      • berniebernard666 - Jun 24, 2015 at 10:47 PM

        for the record…Haslett should have been fired a year and a half ago. Make that 4 and a half years ago.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jun 25, 2015 at 9:19 AM

          That’s not what the term “for the record” means and while many would agree like myself Bernie, it is just an opinion.

    • bowlregard - Jun 25, 2015 at 4:12 PM

      The Haslett situation was complicated by the fact that Gruden and he had a history. It must be very difficult to part ways with an old buddy. I imagine the new brain trust may have helped Jay see the inevitability of the situation.

      On the other hand, all indications are that Barry is Jay’s man. It may be that everyone had to be sold on him, but this was the one guy Jay really wanted.

      And after his rookie year as HC he seemed to very much see the need for a QB coach. And a number of people at Redskin Park seemed to have a connection to Callahan.

      So far, based on personnel and coaching moves this offseason on paper at least it appears the ship has been righted.

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