Weekend open thread: Could Redskins improve just by staying healthy?

Adam Carriker

Defensive end Adam Carriker lays on the field after being injured, and subsequently lost for the season, in Week 2 against the Rams. (Tom Gannam/Associated Press)

Some of the more indelible images of the Redskins’ 2012 season are, frankly, of players being injured. No need for me to post the picture of Robert Griffin III’s knee twisting the wrong way, or Brian Orakpo standing on the sideline with his shoulder wrapped; those might be burned into your memories.

Likewise, some of the most optimistic projections for 2013 include the assumption that Griffin will play Game 1 and the 15 or more that follow, and Orakpo’s return will make the defense better, among other things. But injuries are standard fare in the NFL. Every team has them, and no team gets through a season unscathed.

So how injured were the Redskins last year, and is it realistic to expect improvement through a reversion to the mean? Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, and Football Outsiders each compiled injury data for last season that showed there is merit to the idea that Washington was much more banged up than average.

Gosselin’s chart has the Redskins down for 75 man-games lost, more than every team in the league except the Packers. He writes that Washington had just 13 players start all 16 games, which is actually more than all but the 49ers, Seahawks and Dolphins, and that the key injury was T Jammal Brown, not Orakpo or DE Adam Carriker.

Football Outsiders calculates a stat called Adjusted Games Lost, which factors in not just injuries, but how important those players are to the team, and whether they missed a game or played hurt. The Redskins came in 29th there, healthier only than the the Colts, Jaguars and Packers. Their Adjusted Games Lost was 89.4, much worse than in 2011 (67.5, 20th) and the 2012 league average of 64.5.

So while subjectively it seemed like the Redskins could benefit just by not having as many key injuries in 2013, it might be comforting to know that you’re not just being a homer and seeing it through your burgundy-colored glasses. The numbers back it up.

As always, this and whatever else is fair game to talk about from now through Sunday. We’ll be back with a new post at 7 a.m. on Monday, unless news breaks.

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

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