The 2016 Seattle Seahawks season was largely defined by injuries to several of its key players. Russell Wilson’s health was compromised on opening day, then again two weeks later, and it was a major reason for the team’s offensive struggles throughout the season. Richard Sherman played through an MCL injury, and like Wilson, he never missed a game. C.J. Prosise, Earl Thomas, and Tyler Lockett all went down with serious injuries in the home stretch of the regular season, while Thomas Rawls missed several weeks due to a fractured fibula.
All things considered, the Seahawks actually were among the “healthier” teams in the league last season. Using Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Games Lost metric, the Seahawks ranked 5th at 41.1. This is a slight downgrade from last season, when they were 3rd at 40.1. For what it’s worth, the Super Bowl teams of 2013 and 2014 were middle of the pack in terms of AGL.
The Los Angeles Rams were the healthiest team in 2016, so at least they were first in something. Commiserations to the Chicago Bears, who usurped the New York Giants as the most injured team, ending the Giants’ three-year run at the bottom of this list by clocking in with a staggering 155.1 AGL.
For a better understanding on how AGL works, here’s the 2015 season description, with the obvious note that “probable” is no longer a status teams can use for players on the injury report.
These numbers do not simply add up the number of games missed. 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, replacement starters, and important situational reserves (No. 3 wide receiver, nickelback, etc.) 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 AGL 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).
The adjustment FO made this year was to match up the injury reports where players were left with a blank status and assign it to the old “probable” term. Seattle left an injury status blank 59 times and those players made it to game day all but twice. Interestingly enough, the Seahawks had one of the lowest rates of players listed “questionable” appearing in games, coming in tied for 2nd with Atlanta at 45.5% (15/33 for Seattle, 5/11 for Atlanta).
AGL breakdown will be divided into offense and defense later this week by Football Outsiders, but the general information is here for your viewing.
The Seahawks weren’t decimated by a large quantity of injuries in the same way that say, the Chargers were (e.g. Danny Woodhead and Keenan Allen being lost for the season just in September), but for the second season running, pivotal players were injured towards the back-half of the year, and Seattle couldn’t recover. It was Jimmy Graham and Thomas Rawls in 2015, and the aforementioned Prosise/Lockett/Thomas trio this year.