The hits mainly came on defense, which we’ll get to soon, but the offense wasn’t immune to the ravages of the NFL regular season. Each year Football Outsiders gives their overall rankings for adjusted games lost (AGL), which showed the Eagles to be the second worst injured team in 2018. They also break it down to offense, defense, and then each individual position group.
Before we get to breaking down where the hits came on offense, let’s refresh ourselves on what AGL is measuring:
“For those unfamiliar with AGL, we do not simply add up the number of games missed. We are able to quantify how much teams were affected by injuries based on two principles:
(1) Injuries to starters, injury replacements, and important situational reserves (No. 3 wide receiver, receiving backs, nickel corner, etc.) matter more than injuries to benchwarmers; 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 game status that week (out, doubtful, questionable or probable/Blank).”
Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s take a look where each offensive unit for the Eagles ranked league-wide.
Eagles AGL Rank: 29th
Ten teams survived the season without so much as a dent to their starting quarterback. Half of those teams made the playoffs. The Eagles would make a run but they did it the hard way.
“...the Eagles (5.1) made the playoffs despite significant injuries to quarterback Carson Wentz for the second year in a row, this time due to back ailments. One of these years, maybe we’ll get to see what Wentz can do in the postseason.” - Vincent Verhei
It’s obvious that Wentz will need to stay healthy if the Eagles are to make a serious run in 2019. This is more true than it’s ever been considering the changes in the quarterback room.
“The Eagles are even more talented than they were heading into their title defense season last year. But this time around, there’s no Nick Foles as a parachute option to replace Carson Wentz if something happens to the fourth-year starter. Wentz is in the middle of contract negotiations; except only playing 24 games the last two years leaves a lot of questions about his health, especially with last year’s back injury lingering in the wake of an ACL injury that cut his would-be MVP season of 2017 short. If Wentz plays 16 games, this is a Super Bowl contender. If not, we’ll find out what Doug Pederson can do with Nate Sudfeld.” - Will Brinson, CBS Sports
Strictly speaking about health, the hope is Wentz proves to be more Matt Stafford than Sam Bradford. Stafford had his two first seasons cut short by knee and shoulder injuries, playing only 13 of 32 games in that span. Bradford completed two of his first three seasons before literally dissolving into a fine powder. Sources tell me to mix Bradford’s bone meal with skeever tail, ectoplasm, or blue dragonfly wing for a killer damage health poison.
Eagles AGL Rank: 31st
The Eagles lost a starting running back to a torn ACL too, though at least they got four games out of Jay Ajayi before his injury. Darren Sproles only played in six games due to a bad hamstring. - Vincent Verhei
Those two blows created a confusing stable of running backs with a new “feature” occasionally threatening to emerge, only to ultimately revert back to a pumpkin. According to Pro Football Focus, the replacements graded anywhere from average to poor. Josh Adams, Corey Clement, and Wendell Smallwood graded 55th, 94th, and 105th out of 137 respectively. Even in their highest rush output of the season - Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts - the film showed three backs that either left meat on the bone or failed to create much on their own or a combination of both.
The additions of Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders at the very least bring a mix of polish and potential. One positive indicator for better health in 2019 is that Howard has yet to miss a game due to injury as a pro.
Eagles AGL Rank: 25th
In the worst year of AGL for wide receivers ever measured, the Eagles were not the exception. Mack Hollins was a ghost and we’re still not sure we aren’t dealing with a Weekend at Bernie’s situation. Alshon Jeffery saved his debut until Week 4 of the regular season after recovering from a torn rotator cuff. Mike Wallace going down in Week 2 robbed the Eagles of their vertical field stretcher.
Josh Perkins was contributing significant snaps as an outside receiver early in the season. That should tell you what the Eagles were dealing with at the outset.
Eagles AGL Rank: t-1st
We got one folks! Zach Ertz played his first, full 16-game season as a pro while on his way to setting records. Dallas Goedert did the same without the records but did flash plenty of promise. The aforementioned Perkins essentially tagged out to injured reserve when Richard Rodgers tagged in, but neither received enough snaps to count against the formula.
The other team with a perfect 0.0 AGL for the tight end position was the New Orleans Saints. It feels like a good time to note that the Eagles not only took down the third healthiest team (Chicago Bears) in the playoffs, but also took the sixth (Saints) to their limit.
Eagles AGL Rank: 2nd
Despite Jason Peters checking in and out of games with a torn biceps and quad injury, he still was able to play in roughly 80% of the offenses snaps. Jason Kelce also battled though a grade II MCL sprain, a broken foot, and a torn elbow to notch 95% of the teams snaps. Lane Johnson registered 88% of the snaps, but dealt with a midseason grade II MCL sprain that hampered him. Brandon Brooks’ torn achilles came with unfortunate timing, happening with six minutes left to play in the first quarter of the Divisional Round tilt with the Saints.
All of that goes to show you that the Eagles, while ranking highly, still dealt with a bevy of injuries to key starters. Among other factors, by drafting Andre Dillard and bringing back Stefan Wisniewski the Eagles are in a better spot than they were last year if they have to play with the lineup due to injury.
Overall, the Eagles ranked 21st for offensive adjusted games lost. Only two teams - the Los Angeles Chargers (22nd) and the Indianapolis Colts (26th) - suffered more losses and still made the playoffs. Five of the top ten healthiest offenses played extra games last year.
On paper it looks like the Eagles are more equipped to handle injuries to the offense this upcoming year. The most important position still remains a serious question mark. Sudfeld could handle a small stretch of spot starter duty if needed, but Wentz needs to be there at the end to finish it off. The rest is a bonus.