Written by: Motown Blue
A premise that we value here on this blog as it correlates to the NY Giants’ record last year is roster health. We have discussed in the past about the impact of the strength and conditioning program and its impact on adjusted games lost (AGL). We have visited this so many times that we’re bordering on beating a dead horse, but we want to put our prior argument into perspective.
In the last five years, the most consistent teams that have the best winning percentages are as follows: Patriots (.750), Denver (.738), Seattle (.719) and one team that seems to consistently get into the playoffs the Packers (.646). Thanks to the statistics from Football Outsiders, we have compiled the statistics on AGL over the past five seasons whereby the teams with the least AGL are ranked #1 through the most AGL are ranked 32nd. Those teams ranked over the last five years in AGL as follows: Denver (9.6), Green Bay (10.6), Patriots (15.4), and Seattle (19.2). Among the Super Bowl winners in the past five years, here is where they ranked in AGL for the regular season:
2012 NYG with an AGL ranked 22nd
2013 Baltimore with an AGL ranked 1st
2014 Seattle with and AGL ranked 4th
2015 New England with an AGL ranked 12th
2016 Denver with an AGL ranked 1st
2017 New England with an AGL ranked 3rd.
We do not believe, therefore, that injuries are just luck. There is a reason these statistics equate to wins, losses and Lombardi trophies. Even Carolina, which went to the SB in 2016, was 4th in AGL for that regular season. The anomaly is Atlanta which finished 30th last season in AGL.
This past season, the Giants finished 1st in AGL, which correlated to their 11-5 record. Per Football Outsiders, they finished dead last the previous three seasons. Their winning percentage over those three years was .395.
In today’s NFL and the salary cap structure, it is more imperative that teams value roster health than ever. The QBs and all pro players take up an enormous percentage of the cap which means teams must rely on the youth of their roster for success. Teams do not have the luxury of roster depths of the pre-cap era, such as the dynasty teams of Pittsburgh in the ’70s, Dallas in the ’80s and SF in the ’80s, etc.
Player injury history in college is becoming more of an emphasis leading up to the draft. We have recently seen how players rise and fall based on injury reports and leaks. Teams will often get burned when they take players with injury track records in college. Think Clowney in Houston, Gurley with LAR, and even to some degree with the Giants in Owa and Kennard.
Many will point to the limitations on practice time in pads and practice time in general during training camp. We would like to add that it benefits the team in limiting the AGL for their players. Yes, the quality of football has been affected, but teams realize they will reduce their odds of making the playoffs unless they limit injuries.
The Giants’ significant injury last year was JPP, and it was apparent they dropped off in pass-rushing statistics in the latter part of the season. The injury to DRC we believe played a critical role in their playoff game vs GB. The secondary play dropped off significantly once he left the game. The bottom line is teams that limit their injuries as well as injuries to key players significantly increase their odds of winning in today’s NFL.
In summary, we can laud the job that Wellman and McAdoo have done in the strength and conditioning program as well as keeping the players fresh throughout the season based on the statistics above.
We have read many articles, posts and discussions on the concerns of the OL dating back to last season. We won’t debate that it is a weakness that may hold back the success for the team in 2017 and possibly into 2018. Glenn alluded to the poor adjustment Fassel made as an ex-coordinator in handling the play calling when he took over in 1996. The team relied on the defense for wins vs their struggling offense. We can all recall there were even times when resentment resided on the sidelines and in the locker room by the defensive unit.
We may be seeing a pattern with McAdoo as he continues to handle the play calling duties. Simms discussed this in the NY Post and alluded to the dysfunction of the offense. There are way too many times where an audible is called and times where they check calls at the line of scrimmage based on the defensive alignment. How many of you were frustrated to see the play clock melt down to zero as Eli surveyed and audabilized at the LOS?
There is a point when a team over thinks and over adjusts to what the defense is scheming versus dictating with the execution of their talent. There is no doubt that they possess match-up weapons that every defense has to account for. We have to wonder whether it could only help a struggling OL if McAdoo changes the approach in dictating his matchups versus always trying to adjust the defensive schemes at the LOS. It could help mask the weaknesses of the OL.