Latest report confirms LA Rams among hardest hit with injuries
Sometimes you just know the answers to a question before the question is asked. That is certainly the case over the LA Rams in 2022, when a report comes out to determine the NFL teams who were most impacted by injuries last season. As expected, the LA Rams were indeed decimated by injuries.
We have argued in the past that the best teams in the NFL may or may not be the most talented teams in the NFL, but are arguably the healthiest. The Football Outsiders report for the 2022 NFL season certainly seems to confirm that theory. Of the Top-5 teams on the least injured, four competed in the 2022-23 NFL Playoffs. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers, the least injured team in the NFL last season, did not make the playoffs. But the Steelers ended the season with a record of 9-8, far better than many expected.
The two teams that met in Super Bowl LVII, the Philadelphia Eagles (3rd ranked) and the Kansas City Chiefs (4th ranked) were among the least injured teams in 2022. Rounding out the Top-5 were the Jacksonville Jaguars (2nd ranked) and the Minnesota Vikings (5th ranked). The Green Bay Packers did not make 2022 NFL Playoffs, despite being the sixth healthiest team in 2022.
Availability is the greatest NFL ability a player can have
The LA Rams were the 30th ranked team in 2022, with an average games lost (AGL) of 119.6 in 2022. While that in itself was catastrophic for the Rams, even this index does not measure how devastating repetitive injuries to the same positiona group can decimate the team. The Rams roster was so wiped out by injuries to offensive linemen that the Rams finished out a significant portion of the season by starting offensive linemen who were not even on the Rams roster during Game 1.
The LA Rams had emphasized athleticism in the 2021 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, many of the freakish athletes selected in the draft either never transitioned to the NFL level of play enough to warrant many snaps, or they have been far too injured. And in April 2022, we highlighted the serious durability concerns that the Rams starting offensive line faced, as neither Joe Noteboom nor Brian Allen, two of the five starters on the offensive line, had proven their ability to stay healthy over the course of a 17-game regular season.
For the record, Brian Allen played just seven of 17 games for the Rams in 2022. Joseph Noteboom played just six of 17 games for the Rams in 2022. How could I have predicted future events? I'm no soothsayer. I simply saw a trend in both players that played out in 2022. What would the LA Rams offensive line have looked like with 17 games out of both Noteboom and Allen?
Coleman Shelton missed just four games. Rob Havenstein missed no games. Even David Edwards, who missed 13 games in 2022, would have found an adequate backup with Alaric Jackson and/or Chandler Brewer. In short, the LA Rams would have had continuity on the offensive side of the ball, and would have eliminated the need for signing so many free agents.
However else you view the needs of the Rams roster, I believe that the Rams need to emphasize durability in their assessment of players to add to the roster. After the Rams get that back under control, the team can sort out who is best suited to start versus compete in a rotational or backup role. It's quite clear that if the Rams are serious about improving the quality of the team, they will need to pay attention to injuries, particularly with physically demanding positions like the offensive line.
UPDATE: Rams suffered more injuries than FO originally reported
On March 10, 2023, Football Outsiders revised their data, which now shows the LA Rams nearly tied for the worst number of injuries in 2022 with the Denver Broncos:
While this new data update should surprise nobody, it does reinforce the belief that a healthir Rams roster in 2023 will lend itself to a much more successful season.