Quantifying the Cowboys' injuries

IRVING, Texas -- Injuries played a big part in why the Dallas Cowboys finished 8-8 in 2013. So, how does one measure the impact of those injuries?

Football Outsiders quantifies just how much, and the result is a little surprising. In their Adjusted Games Lost metric, the Cowboys checked in at 67.9, which ranked 17th. In 2012, the Cowboys were 28th in Adjusted Games Lost (86.5).

The New York Giants were last at 144.6. The teams ranked Nos. 27-31 made the playoffs: San Diego Chargers (94.4), New England Patriots (99.9), Green Bay Packers (104.5) and Indianapolis Colts (110.3).

The Cowboys used 20 different defensive linemen in 2013, so it’s not surprising they were second in AGL among that position group at 26.0. The Chicago Bears were tops at 28.1 in large part because they lost Henry Melton, now a Cowboy, for 13 games with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. What’s difficult to know is which players were counted. Jeremiah Ratliff was projected as a starter and did not play a game. Anthony Spencer played one game. DeMarcus Ware missed three. Jason Hatcher missed three. The projected top reserve, Tyrone Crawford, did not play a game because of a torn Achilles.

Here’s how Football Outsiders came up with the formula:

“With Football Outsiders' Adjusted Games Lost (AGL) metric, we are able to quantify how much teams were affected by injuries based on two principles: (1) Injuries to starters, injury replacements and important situational reserves matter more than injuries to bench warmers; and (2) Injured players who do take the field are usually playing with reduced ability, which is why Adjusted Games Lost is based not strictly on whether the player is active for the game or not, but instead is based on the player's listed status that week (IR/PUP, out, doubtful, questionable or probable).”

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