GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers have been hit hard by injuries.
Or, they’ve been hardly injured at all.
It all depends on how you want to do the counting.
The Web site ManGamesLost.com (subscription required) tracks injury data across the major professional sports leagues. Through five weeks, the Packers are among the 10 healthiest teams in terms of games missed due to injuries.
However, there’s another way to look at it. Like real estate is all about location, location, location, injuries are about talent, talent, talent. From the talent-talent-talent perspective, the Packers have been hit harder than most teams.
MGL uses a metric called “Lost-av,” which weighs the impact of injuries based on a player’s Approximate Value as calculated by Pro Football Reference. It’s through that measurement that the season-long absence of All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari is more than just a generic count of missed games, no different than some metaphorical third-string long snapper who’s been out with a particularly pesky hangnail.
While Green Bay’s season total of injuries isn’t that high, it’s who’s missed those games: All-Pro Bakhtiari (five), Pro Bowl outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (four), Pro Bowl guard Elgton Jenkins (three) and All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander (one) have combined to miss 13 games. Thus, by the lost-av metric, Green Bay has been the third-most-impacted team by injuries.
With four consecutive wins, coach Matt LaFleur has found it easy to find a silver lining.
“There’s definitely been a little bit more adversity in that front, said LaFleur, whose first two editions of the Packers stayed relatively healthy. “I do think there’s some benefit to that just in terms of being able to play multiple people and get them reps. There’s no substitute for live game reps, and so you start to develop some other guys. I think you really get an opportunity to develop your depth, and so that’s good, especially when you’ve been able to win games. We never want to be without anybody, but if you are, it’s always great to go into those games and again, develop people and come out with a win. Because that’s ultimately all we want.”
The offensive line is a perfect illustration. Without Bakhtiari and Jenkins, the Packers found out they had quality reserves in Elgton Jenkins and Jon Runyan Jr.
In terms of missed games, the Kansas City Chiefs have been the healthiest team while the Tennessee Titans have been the most injured.
In terms of injury impact, the Buffalo Bills have been the most fortunate while the Baltimore Ravens have been the most impacted by a wide margin. The Chicago Bears, who will host Green Bay on Sunday, are in the middle of the pack.