Packers have made gains on injuries under Mike McCarthy's new plan

Mike McCarthy's decision to make Fridays a recovery day for the Packers seems to have paid dividends. AP Photo/Paul Sancya

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Two years ago, Mike McCarthy made a radical change to the way the Green Bay Packers go about their work week during the season.

The reason: He was fed up with injuries.

His plan appears to have paid off.

There’s no denying that luck plays a role in it. How could Jordy Nelson's freakish ACL tear last preseason be deemed anything else? But on the whole, the Packers have gone from one of the NFL’s most consistently injured teams to one of the healthiest, according to data compiled by Football Outsiders.

It coincides with McCarthy’s decision to ditch his regular Friday practice and make it a recovery day after consecutive practices Wednesday and Thursday. He followed that with a short practice Saturday before a Sunday game.

According to Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost formula, the Packers finished with the ninth-lowest total (56.2) in the NFL last season. In 2014, they had the third-lowest total (41.9). It was a remarkable turnaround for a team that had been among the most banged-up in the league.

It’s a remarkable two-year switch considering where they were in 2012, when then they led the league in most adjusted games lost (108.2), according to Football Outsiders. In 2013, they ranked ahead of only two teams (with 104.1). They ranked 16th in 2011, 30th in 2010, 12th in 2009 and 23rd in 2008.

The numbers aren’t solely games missed. Football Outsiders says its figures are based on two principles: “Injuries to starters, replacement starters, and important situational reserves; and 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)."

Although Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders didn’t put the Packers among his “luckiest” teams from 2015 in terms of injuries in an ESPN Insider piece that appeared this week, he did point out in a text message that 16 of the Packers’ 56.2 adjusted games lost were to one player, Nelson. In fact, 31 of the adjusted games lost were by two players, counting Nelson and linebacker Sam Barrington, who played only in the regular-season opener before a foot injury ended his season. The other major adjusted games lost to injury last season were by tackle Bryan Bulaga (4.44), cornerback Sam Shields (3.07), safety Morgan Burnett (2.46), center Corey Linsley (2.14) and receiver Davante Adams (1.99).