The Washington Redskins lost their preseason opener to the New England Patriots, but that was not the cruelest blow. Running back Derrius Guice, selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft, suffered a torn ACL during a 34-yard run up the middle in the first quarter, ending his season before it began.
Guice wasn’t the only player banged up during Thursday night’s loss. Backup tight end Manasseh Garner is also out for the season with a torn ACL. Seventh-round pick Trey Quinn suffered a stomach injury and did not return to Thursday’s game. Defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis left the game after a Patriots offensive lineman rolled up on his leg. Offensive lineman Tyler Catalina also left due to injury.
Unfortunately, significant injuries in Washington are nothing new, and last season was brutal for the Redskins. Among the 22 projected starters at the start of the season, eight spent at least six games on injured reserve. Six of those were on offense and included Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams, tight end Jordan Reed, center Spencer Long, wideout Terrelle Pryor and running back Rob Kelley. Nose tackle Phil Taylor and linebacker Will Compton were the defensive starters lost. During one matchup against the Dallas Cowboys in October, the team’s starting offensive front included a rookie at center and left tackle, a left guard signed the day before the game and a right guard who was signed earlier in the week. Right tackle Morgan Moses was the only true starting lineman on the field, and he was dealing with two sprained ankles.
And that laundry list of injuries doesn’t include 22-year-old starting strong safety Su’a Cravens spending the season on the team’s reserve/left-squad list.
According to Football Outsiders’ adjusted man-games lost statistic, which quantifies how much a team is affected by injured starters rather than bench players, Washington has been in the bottom third in six of the past nine years, including last and second-to-last finishes in 2017 and 2015, respectively. In fact, there has been just one season since 2010, when Bruce Allen joined the franchise, where the team didn’t rank in the bottom half of the league for adjusted man games lost.
Just how often and how significantly has Washington been hampered by the injury bug over the past eight seasons? More than any other team except for the New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts. Both of those teams had the same number of seasons in the league’s bottom third for adjusted man-games lost.
Now 2018 begins with Guice and tight end Garner already done for the year. While the absence of the former far outweighs the absence of the latter, it’s still an ominous beginning in a season the team really needs to reach the playoffs after a two-season absence.
As you would expect, a rash of injuries to key positions hampers a team’s ability to win games. Since 2010, teams in the top half of adjusted man games lost, those with the fewest impactful injuries, average nine wins per season. Those in the bottom half average seven wins per year. Two games doesn’t sound like a lot, yet that’s often the difference between qualifying for the postseason or heading to the golf course earlier than ownership would like.
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