There is no question the Raiders considerably mishandled their injured players last season. Based on a new study from Football Outsiders, however, that mishandling shouldn’t be the pointed to as a major factor in their lack of success.
The study brings together what they call Adjusted Games Lost, which in a nutshell quantifies how many games were missed when weighted for starters, quarterbacks, and key non-starters. It also factors in games played in which the players were not fully healthy.
The end resulting figure for the Raiders AGL for 2017 was 44.2, which lands them in the 8 spot for fewest games lost to injury. And of the top nine in fewest AGL, the Raiders were the ONLY team without a winning record, thus removing any possibility of health being a factor in their 6-10 record or losing four straight to end the season.
Most of the Raiders’ mishandling of injuries seemed to be with regard to their already shaky secondary.
Both rookie top pick Gareon Conley and starting cornerback David Amerson were kept on the roster for what amounted to the half a season — time that could have been spent on injured reserve.
Then Obi Melifonwu was placed on injured reserve to start the season, despite appearing to have been ready well ahead of time. Then when he did return, they thrust him into a starting cornerback spot against Tom Brady and the Patriots at the extreme Mexico City elevation. After that he barely saw the field until getting injured again and heading for IR.
While all this was happening, the cornerbacks were severely depleted and yet they opted not to call offseason standout Breon Borders to the active roster allowing him to be signed away by the Bills.
And of course, there was Amari Cooper who they rushed back from an ankle injury when he was clearly not ready, causing him to aggravate the injury on a meaningless play blocking on a run and then putting him back in for two meaningless games to end the season.
Even though their injury handling can’t be looked at as the reason for the Raiders’ failings, it does highlight the real problem — coaching.
First with the decisions to let offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave go in favor of promoting QB coach Todd Downing, then keeping Ken Norton Jr as defensive coordinator, to once again making middle linebacker a complete non-priority, then the complete clusterf@#k handling of the anthem protests in week three in Washington which started off a 4-game losing streak, to finally firing Norton after setting a new NFL record for games to start a seasons without an interception, to another blowout in Kansas City to start another four game slide to end the season.
How they could fall that far after such a magical 2016 season is quite a wonder.