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November 15, 2017

Cowboys injury issues put Eagles' success, despite injuries, into perspective

Eagles NFL

When the Dallas Cowboys got blown out by the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday, it was easy to see how much their offense missed left tackle Tyron Smith (back, groin) and running back Ezekiel Elliott (suspension).

In relief of Smith, backup left tackle Chaz Green was a human turnstile against Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who wrecked the game with six sacks of Dak Prescott, while backup running back Alfred Morris was a clear downgrade from Elliott.

Smith may or may not return in time for the Cowboys' matchup against the Eagles, but Elliott won't, as the next time he'll be in front of a judge to appeal his suspension for the eleventh time (estimated) will be in December. When it was revealed that linebacker Sean Lee is likely to miss Sunday's game with his yearly hamstring pull, many analysts wondered if the Cowboys' sudden injury problems would doom their season.

Certainly, the Cowboys are not as good a football team without Smith, Elliott, and Lee. Against the Falcons, the Cowboys were unable to adapt to those losses, and they folded.

Conversely, the Philadelphia Eagles have faced injury adversity all season long, and have done better than just "adapt." They've thrived. 

Objectively, the Eagles have had far more injury adversity than the Cowboys this season, according to the website ManGamesLost.com (MGL), which tracks the number of cumulative injuries suffered by each team in the league. According to their data, the Eagles have missed a cumulative 96 games by their players. MGL doesn't name those players, but I believe I've pinpointed them as follows. To note, starters are in bold green print:

Player Games missed due to injury
Sidney Jones 9
Aziz Shittu 9
Dom Williams 9
 Randall Goforth9
Ronald Darby 8
Caleb Sturgis 8
Donnel Pumphrey 8
Darren Sproles 6
Destiny Vaeao 5
Jaylen Watkins 4
Chris Maragos 3
Jason Peters 2
Fletcher Cox 2
Jordan Hicks 2
Wendell Smallwood 2
Corey Graham 2
Zach Ertz 1
Lane Johnson 1
Rodney McLeod 1
Mychal Kendricks 1
 Alex McCalister1
 Tre Sullivan1
TOTAL 96

The 96 games lost rank as seventh-most in the league, per MGL. To note, MGL includes players like Aziz Shittu, Dom Williams, and Randall Goforth, who were injured and placed on IR during the offseason, but had little chance of making the final 53-man roster. (Most teams have a few of these types of players, like the Cowboys do below, so the data isn't perfect.)

The Cowboys, meanwhile, have lost 64 games to injury this season, according to MGL, though they have not yet updated their count after Week 10. I added those in, bringing the Cowboys' total, by my count, to 71, listed below:

Player Games missed due to injury
Rico Gathers 9
Zac Dysert 9
Duke Thomas 9
Charles Tapper 7
Chidobe Awuzie 6
Stephen Paea 5
Anthony Hitchens 4
Justin Durant 4
Dan Bailey 3
Nolan Carroll 3
Noah Brown 3
Sean Lee 2
Tyron Smith 1
Orlando Scandrick 1
Jourdan Lewis 1
Brian Price 1
Chaz Green 1
Kavon Frazier 1
Geoff Swaim 1
TOTAL 71

The above does not include Elliott or Randy Gregory, who were suspended, not injured. 

A comparison between the Eagles and Cowboys, injury-wise:

 TeamTotal games lost to injuryStarters missing at least 1 game to injury Total games missed by starters to injuryStarters on IR 
 Eagles96 10  32 4
 Cowboys71  21 1


Smith, Elliott, and Lee will all play again at some point this season for the Cowboys. Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, and Darren Sproles will not.

Whether it's better depth, better scheming by the coaching staff to help the reserves, or some kind of intangible winning attitude, the Eagles are 8-1, despite dealing with far more injury adversity than the Cowboys.


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