As we near training camp, Giants fans are interested in seeing the competition at RT, LB, DT, and elsewhere. We want to gauge whether young players have progressed and whether veteran players can regain past glory. It'll also be our first chance to see the rookies in pads. However, one overriding concern is the fear of injuries. I know that Ed already posted about last year's injuries but I decided to look at injuries to specific units as calculated by Football Outsiders' adjusted games lost statistic. FO ranked the top 8 healthiest units and bottom 8 healthiest (read: 8 most injured) units. Let's see where the Giants fit in.
Adjusted Games Lost definition:
AGL is our metric that quantifies how much teams were affected by injuries, and is based on two fundamental ideas: (1) Injuries to starters, injury replacements, and important situational reserves impact a team more than injuries to bench warmers; and (2) Injury effects should be adjusted for whether or not a player was out, doubtful, questionable, or probable. Although this should go without saying, higher AGLs are worse than lower AGLs.
Here are the overall team numbers just in case you're not familiar with them. Football Outsiders had the 2012 Giants ranked 25th in team health at 82.7. They had the 2011 Giants ranked 26th at 78.3. Despite more injuries in 2012 the Giants had a better ranking due to an increase in injuries across the league.
Now let's look at the units that FO listed for the Giants.
The Giants were on the top-8 list as Eli Manning went through another season without missing a game. It seems like a given that he'll just trot out there for every snap and get up from every hit but it cannot be overstated how rare that is. Only 7 other teams in the league could say the same about their QB.
Running Back and Fullback:
The Giants made the bottom 8 list here as the 5th most injured RB/FB unit. Although undeniably tough, Ahmad Bradshaw is prone to injury and missed two games as a result. Andre Brown started to show what Reese and his staff saw when they drafted him but went on IR after 10 games. As much as I praise Brown's vision and patience, I'm wary of his leg injuries: turf toe as a rookie and a broken leg last season. I'm not ready to see David Wilson as a bell cow.
Wide Receiver and Tight End:
The Giants were not top 8 or bottom 8 here. However, Giants fans know that Hakeem Nicks playing so many games actually hurt the Giants. He was simply too injured and should've sat down a few weeks. Martellus Bennett played on a hyperextended knee and should have missed a few games as well. His blocking and route-running really suffered in the 2nd half of the season. I like what the Giants did for depth at WR and I'm hopeful of Robinson's development but the 2013 Giants offense will rely heavily on a healthy Nicks.
Once again, the Giants were neither top 8 nor bottom 8 but that's misleading. Both David Baas and Chris Snee played all 16 games while constantly batting nagging injuries. Baas had one surgery "on his body," which is believed to have been on a knee, and another one on his elbow. Snee had hip surgery. David Diehl missed 3 games with an MCL sprain and Sean Locklear had a gruesome leg injury that puts his career in doubt. I'm hoping that Justin Pugh and/or James Brewer can crack the starting lineup at LG and RT. If Baas and Snee continue to get hurt, maybe they can fill in.
This was yet another unit that was middle of the pack in injuries. Chris Canty missed 7 games, Rocky Bernard missed 4 games with a quadriceps issue, Marvin Austin missed an indeterminate amount of games due to his back and a torn meniscus, and both Shaun Rogers and Markus Kuhn went on IR. That's a lot of instability at defensive tackle. Jason Pierre-Paul played all 16 games but we didn't find out until after the season that his back was a problem. That same problem could lead to him missing the start of this season. The Giants have done well to bolster the interior of their DL but there's no replacing JPP.
The Giants didn't make top 8 or bottom 8 but they missed perhaps the most important LB on the roster: Jacquian Williams. His ability to cover the pass was sorely missed as Jason Witten had a historic night in Dallas. J-Will has dealt with lower leg issues since he gained 20 lbs. Unfortunately, the other LBs aren't good enough even when they can stay healthy.
The Giants' DBs were the 7th most injured DB unit in the NFL in 2012. The only CBs on the roster who didn't miss games were Corey Webster and Justin Tryon. Based on how they played, some fans might wish they had missed a few games. it bodes well for the Giants that Stevie Brown and Antrel Rolle didn't miss games as they will be the starters this season. I can't help but wonder what could have been if not for Kenny Phillips' and Terrell Thomas' bad knees.
I've long been a detractor of Perry Fewell's but I felt that the defense had done enough for the Giants to make the playoffs. Giving up 19 points at Philadelphia when the Eagles were still mostly healthy and 17 points at Washington should be enough when you have an elite QB. I looked at the AGL for the defense and Football Outsiders ranked the 2012 Giants' defense as the 4th most injured defense in the NFL. It's hard to blame a coach for poor rankings when he has that much instability in his lineup.