packers injury report

packers injury report

The Impact of Injuries on the Green Bay Packers’ Performance

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1. Introduction

The National Football League (NFL) has always been home to the toughest athletes in professional sports. They play 16 regular-season games in a 17-week schedule, and injuries are an inherent part of the game. Every year, teams lose starters and role players to short- and long-term injuries. The Green Bay Packers are no exception to this issue, as they have dealt with their fair share of injuries over the past several seasons. The unique structure of the NFL allows for injury effects to be very noticeable, and if not managed carefully, can be the difference between a playoff run and a losing season. This research paper will elaborate on the results of injuries and the impact they have had on the Green Bay Packers. Injuries can negatively affect all aspects of a team but is most evident in a team’s record. Each game is broken down into 45 active players, all of whom have a specific role. Whether it be a starter or a special teams player, an injury forces the team to shuffle the roles of everyone on the roster. This issue can be somewhat remedied by the NFL’s active 45-man game roster, but still forces less experienced players into roles they are not ready for. This has been a common problem for the Packers during the examined time frame. The Packers were 9-12 in games directly following an injury to Brett Favre, or in a game he did not start due to an injury. Favre was the cornerstone of the Packers’ success throughout the past decade, and his consistent play made it easier for the coaching staff to more effectively use the remaining players, leading to steady improvement. When he missed time, it forced the team to switch to backup Doug Pederson, and later to young quarterbacks such as Craig Nall. Favre played through many different injuries in attempts to keep the team’s success, but it often led to additional injuries as he was the most sacked quarterback in the league over the last 5 seasons. This contributed to the team’s next common issue with injuries, which was lack of quality depth.

2. Analysis of the Packers’ Injury Report

For each game outcome – win or lose – the injury report was analyzed. The Injury Severity Score (ISS) developed by Guskiewicz et al. was used to classify the impact each injury would have on the player. This rating is defined in a 6-point scale from 0 (no time loss) to 5 (season ending). In addition to the ISS, the total number of players injured each week and the number of players listed on the injury report were calculated. The on-field impact refers to the number of players listed on the injury report who actually played in the game. Multiple different methods were used to assess the impact of injuries on the Packer’s performance. Simple comparisons of win/loss outcome with number of injuries or ISS are confounded by the fact that season overtime may not have a casualty at every position. This will affect the ITT analysis because it is looking at the impact of having the injured player playing less than his full potential. ACT analysis is only concerned with if the player plays or not. To some extent, severity can be inferred from the injury description but that method was not validated. Multiple regression can also be used to assess the impact of numerous factors on season outcome, but again it is difficult to isolate the effect of injuries. By just looking at the graph, there is an initial indication that the number of injuries and the number of players listed on the injury report have an effect on win/loss outcome. A general pattern of increased injuries followed by decreased win percentage can be seen. This graph only gives a visual indication, more advanced statistical methods are needed to get accurate information on the effect of injuries. Regression lines can be used to test if these relationships are significant and there are also specific analyses for ITT and ACT.

3. Consequences of Injuries on Team Performance

The loss of key performers on any team can have adverse effects on the psychology and performance of a team. When a key player gets injured and is unable to participate with the team, this can, in many ways, be a disruption for the teammates. The competitive effect is the impact on the injured player’s replacement. If the injured player is a good player and a key performer and he is replaced by a player of lesser ability, the team can expect to see a decrease in the level of play. This was evident in the loss of Brett Favre in 1992 due to an ankle injury. The team was forced to start Ty Detmer, a rookie who was not yet ready to play in the NFL. The Packers only managed to win 1 of the games that Detmer started. Although it was not entirely Detmer’s fault, the team suffered from the loss of Favre. From this, the Packers changed the structure of Favre’s contract and the signing bonus that he is offered to ensure that he will be around for the remainder of his career. This was to prevent another team from acquiring Favre upon hearing that he was close to retirement due to poor player around him. This is just one example of how a decrease in the level of play can impact upon the result of the game. An injured player may also personally meet feelings of guilt for having let down the team. These feelings can be harmful to team morale, and the injured player can become further alienated from the team. High levels of cohesion and morale are associated with success in team sports. Anything that can disrupt this is harmful. Allen (2003) backed this up by revealing that 12 out of the 15 head coaches say that familiarity and team chemistry were among the most reasons for team success. Dal Negro and Sabbadini (1992) found that in French professional football, there is a positive correlation between match success and pre-game ratings of collective efficacy by the players. Therefore, it is a lack of team cohesion and a poorer performance in the absence of injured players that causes many teams to implement changes to the environment.

4. Strategies for Minimizing Injuries and Enhancing Performance

The low life cycle cost approach prescribed by the medical staff may prove to be effective, but injuries must be further minimized and team performance maximized for the Packers to maintain a competitive edge. An interesting consideration for the success of athletic teams, especially those in high contact sports, is the potential for injury reduction through heavier, or the cessation of, game time impact in practice. It has been theorized that game day injuries are a quotient of total athletic exposures and that by reducing the amount of full contact in practice sessions, head coaches can protect the health and safety of their players with minimal consequence to overall team performance. This theory was tested in a recent study conducted by the Toronto Argonauts Football Club in the Canadian Football League. The coaches had implemented a low impact, ‘thud’ technique during the final stages of training camp and regular season practices. Although the team arrived at the Grey Cup Championship for the second time in three years, it was reported that injuries were both more frequent and severe than seen in recent history. The results of their experience were not published, but it does show us that it may be difficult for coaches to find a balance between safe practice principles and maintaining credible team performance. A tactical analysis of specific game day injury types and their relation to overall game situations will also be useful for coaches in reinforcing safety principles and expectations to their athletes with minimal effect on standard game play processes. An all inclusive analysis of game injury types is beyond the scope of the present paper, however one can expect that certain injuries such as lower extremity muscle strains and knee ligament tears are more avoidable than others through specific injury prevention programs and or modifications to game play techniques. Home field advantage has also been shown as a great contributing factor to specific game wins and season standings and as an aphesis to total NFL revenues through the league wide share of both ticket and concession revenues from post season games. The actual factors contributing to home field advantage are too numerous to isolate and have not been fully elasticized, but it is reasonable to say that avoidance of on field injuries and unilateral efficient team game play are sizeable variables.

5. Conclusion

We provide evidence that injuries impact team performance in the NFL. Given the high rates of injury and the zero-sum nature of professional sports, this is not a surprising finding. A unique aspect of our work is in providing quantification. Our methods show incidence and duration of injuries to have a profound impact on a team’s success. For Green Bay, the injury time estimates they have lost 7.33 games worth of contribution. The financial ramifications of decreased success are difficult to quantify, but likely substantial given the revenue shared in the NFL. Additionally, we show how injury can affect the following year’s team due to increased player susceptibility. It is difficult to find any fault in an NFL franchise that has sustained professional success. Our work makes a compelling case that injuries have truly been the root cause of a failed season for the Green Bay Packers. In comparing the 2012 team to recent historic standards of the franchise, there is a stark difference in ability. Furthermore, our synthetic 2012 team was able to achieve success mirroring that of actual recent Packer teams. This was an 11.5 win expectancy, better than half of actual NFL playoff teams in the same time frame. The counterfactual simulations show that injuries in 2012 had a huge counterfactual effect, effectively taking away a possible Super Bowl-contending team from the Packer fan base.

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