Numbers challenge notion Patriots injury luck was off-the-charts in 2018

Numbers challenge notion Patriots injury luck was off-the-charts in 2018

Over and over again, the Patriots had every one of their players on the 53-man roster out at practice. Day after day. Late in the season.

Their run of good health was bordering on baffling.

Leading up to the AFC Championship Game with the Chiefs, the Patriots consistently had perfect attendance on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. Only one player, Deatrich Wise, was listed on the injury report. And even he was a full participant.

Leading up to the Super Bowl, Malcom Brown dealt with a calf issue. Dont'a Hightower dealt with an illness. Both were full participants by Friday. There was not another Patriots player who showed up on the Super Bowl week injury report.

Most notably, Bill Belichick's most important players were available. Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, James White, Sony Michel, the entire starting offensive line, Trey Flowers, Stephon Gilmore, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Kyle Van Noy, Hightower...all were good to go for the most important games of the season. 

What if I told you, though, that the Patriots actually lost more games to injury in 2018 than they did in 2017? 

Hard to believe, right? Could it be possible that in 2017 -- a year in which Julian Edelman, Hightower and Marcus Cannon all ended up on injured reserve -- the Patriots had better injury luck than in 2018?

That's how Football Outsiders sees it. 

The site has released its "Adjusted Games Lost" figures for 2018, which showed the Patriots were the 18th-healthiest team in the league during their Super Bowl run. New England's adjusted games lost figure sat at 78.6 for the season, an uptick of more than 17 games lost from when they had an adjusted games lost number of 61.3 in 2017. 

OK, so what are "adjusted games lost," exactly? 

From Football Outsiders: 

"We have collected the data from the NFL's weekly injury reports for every season since 2002. This allows us to measure not just who played and who didn't, but who was able to play with injuries, even if those injuries meant the player was at something less than 100 percent. That's why we call this metric adjusted games lost -- in addition to players who missed games entirely, we also count those who hit the field after appearing on the injury report at an adjusted rate. Further, we track whether the injured player was a starter, a situational reserve, or simply bottom-of-the-roster fodder. Obviously, an injury to a starting tackle is more important than one to a guy who only plays on special teams."

(You can read "Part 1" of Football Outsiders' adjusted games lost piece here. There are several interesting nuggets therein, including the fact that 13 (!) NFL players who were listed as "out" going into a game last season actually played. There's also a note about how no team listed more players as "questionable" last year than the Patriots. Fifty-nine of their 85 questionable players played.)

How did Football Outsiders arrive at 78.6 adjusted games lost for the Patriots, then? They broke things down by position in "Part 2" of their adjusted games lost piece. 

According to the site, the Patriots were hit hardest along the offensive line. That makes sense, if Isaiah Wynn was projected to serve in a significant role. Wynn, of course, was lost for the season when he tore his Achilles during a preseason game. Cannon missed three games to injury, and Shaq Mason missed two. In all, Football Outsiders had the Patriots missing 22.0 games along their offensive line due to injury. Having Trent Brown fill in and play 16 games -- he might've beat Wynn for the starting job even if Wynn had been healthy -- clearly helped make up for losses suffered there.

The Patriots were then hardest hit by injuries to their defensive backs, per Football Outsiders. Projected starter Eric Rowe played only four games in 2018. That was the biggie. Patrick Chung missed a game. Duke Dawson, a second-round pick, didn't play at all, which may have led to the 17.7 games lost number Football Outsiders settled on. 

At linebacker the Patriots were listed as having 14.6 adjusted games lost to injury thanks primarily, it seems, to rookie Ja'Whaun Bentley landing on injured reserve. 

Running back (11.4 adjusted games lost) was another problem area for the Patriots, who lost Jeremy Hill for the season in Week 1 and saw Michel and Rex Burkhead go down with injuries for stretches of the year.

They're all interesting numbers to parse through. In the end, you may come to the conclusion that Patriots success is more dictated by the quality of the players injured rather than the quantity of players who've gone down. 

Belichick's team was in the bottom half of the league in terms of "adjusted games lost" last year, but its core was on the field when it mattered. The result? They walked away from the wreckage with their sixth Lombardi Trophy.

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Chris Hogan sees similarities between Tom Brady and Cam newton

Chris Hogan sees similarities between Tom Brady and Cam newton

Chris Hogan wasn't with the Patriots for long, but in three seasons with the franchise, he experienced about as much as you possibly could for that short a time frame. He played in three consecutive Super Bowls and won two while catching passes from the legendary Tom Brady. 

Hogan signed a one-year deal with the Panthers this offseason after he said the Patriots moved on from him, though there are no hard feelings. Now he's working with the talented but inconsistent Cam Newton in Carolina, and has already noticed a key similarity between his new quarterback and Brady, as he told ESPN's David Newton

That competitive nature, it’s there. When it comes time to strap on the pads and play football, their focus is on one goal and that’s winning football games.

Cam wants to win. You can tell that right away from talking to him and being around him.

Newton won the MVP in 2016 and led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50, but lost to Von Miller and that brutal Broncos defense that featured Malik Jackson, Chris Harris Jr. and DeMarcus Ware just to name a few key contributors.

You have to wonder what would have happened if the Patriots hadn't lost to Denver in that year's AFC Championship game. Super Bowl 50 is the only Super Bowl the Patriots haven't participated in over the last five years. 

Hogan had enough time with Brady to notice what made him great, so if he sees that same competitive fire in Newton, then that has to be a good sign for Panthers fans. We already know Newton has the ability to turn a conference on its head, so there's a possibility we see him and Brady square off in February this coming season You never know. 

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WATCH: NFL Films special on Julian Edelman and his dad will make your Fathers Day

WATCH: NFL Films special on Julian Edelman and his dad will make your Fathers Day

It's Fathers Day, and for most of us who love sports, we've mostly developed that interest through our dad's, and Patriots receiver Julian Edelman is no different. 

NFL Films posted a great special on Edelman and his dad Frank and the journey they each went on for the former Kent State quarterback to become the second leading receiver in NFL Playoff history and a three-time Super Bowl champion. 

"I discovered football through my father," Julian said. "My brother played, he was seven years older than me, and my father was coaching him, so I was the kid in diapers running around the practice field and I’ve had a love for it ever since."

The video shows some of Edelman's highlights as a youth football star, donning No. 21 because he thought he was Deion Sanders. However, his opportunities were limited throughout his amateur career due to his size. 

"The thing about Jules is he was really little," Frank said. "He used to come in my room crying in the middle of the night saying, ‘Daddy when am I gonna grow, when am I gonna grow.’ And I said son, don’t worry. 

"He’s fearless, and always had a chip on his shoulder."

As a three-year starting quarterback at Kent State, Edelman threw for 4,997 yards, 30 touchdowns and 31 interceptions to go along with 2,483 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. The only interest he drew as a quarterback was in the Canadien Football League, while the Patriots drafted him in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft to be a receiver. 

"I said, ‘Jules you just got picked up by British Columbia,’ and he goes, ‘I ain’t going I’m gonna be a receiver in the NFL," Frank said. 

Edelman only caught one pass for 11 yards in college, so he and his dad worked seven days a week for Edelman to get up to speed on being a successful receiver. His dad's coaching style was similar enough to Edelman's new coach that he called his dad, "Baby Belichick."

From catching punts with one eye covered and a hand behind his back to using running routes on tennis courts, Edelman's methods seemed to work for him. 

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