For two seasons now injuries and the New York Giants have gone together like, well, like the Giants and losing have. The 2014 season marked the second consecutive season the Giants had the dishonor of being the most most injured team in the NFL, ranking last once again in Football Outsiders' 'Adjusted Games Lost' metric.
The Giants had 137.1 Adjusted Games Lost in 2014, nearly double Football Outsiders' league average of 74.3. The good news? That's four games less than the 141.3 Adjusted Games Lost due to injury the Giants had in 2013. Those are two two worst scores ever tabulated using the Football Outsiders' AGL formula. FO went so far as to say the Giants have created an "injury dynasty."
Football Outsiders says the Giants are the first time since they have been recording this data to lead the league in AGL in back-to-back seasons. The Giants, per FO, have finished 22nd or worse in Adjusted Games Lost in four of the past five seasons. Which, of course, corresponds to the fact that they have not made the playoffs in four of the past five years.
The obvious question is 'why?'
It's equally obvious the Giants don't have an answer.
They have tried a variety of things, using GPS monitoring of players during practices and incorporating recovery stretches into their practice routine to lessen soft-tissue injuries.
Asked about this at the end of the season, head coach Tom Coughlin was stumped for an answer.
"It's a good question," Coughlin said. "We depend an awful lot on the strength program and obviously that's been reduced. The player really, really has to prepare a lot more on his own. We've done the science. We're going to continue to do it. Our medical staff is the best in the league, in our opinion. We have the GPS system. We listen closely to the expert in that area and we do monitor a player accordingly. As John [Mara] mentioned, we have cut down on our soft tissue injuries. However, there are bones and there are tendons and muscles and knees that didn't listen to the GPS program, so we'll continue to do our work in that area."
Coughlin addressed the topic again at the NFL owners meetings, saying largely the same thing.
Is it the strength and conditioning program? Is it players, who spend a large amount of the offseason training on their own, under-training? Over-training? Training incorrectly? Does it have something to do with the supplements players take? Fact is, there is much about a players' physical condition, how he trains, how he takes care of his body that is beyond the control of an NFL team. Does it have something to do with Coughlin's practices? As mentally demanding as he is, players will tell you his practices are not physically demanding.
Maybe there is no single answer, especially since the type of injuries being sustained varies so widely.
This is what GM Jerry Reese said at the end of the season.
"You've got to have a little bit of luck. I say that every single year, and we had a little bad luck," GM Jerry Reese said. "We are still trying to research why can't we stay more healthy during the year and we will continue to sift through that and see how can correct that even more."