Disclaimer: this article is not here to excuse the performance of the Dallas Cowboys this season, especially not the game against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football. But, still, it’s important to talk about injuries in relation to the expectations both fans and teams had way back in September. Oh, that was just a month ago? Feels longer.
Over the last decade, the Cowboys have had their fair share of injuries but have largely been slightly above average in terms of health when compared to the rest of the league. In 2020, that is absolutely not the case. They’ve long passed the point where the boat has taken on so much water it’s time to abandon ship. And hope.
Here’s where the team stood league wide entering 2020, utilizing Football Outsiders adjusted games lost calculations:
Adjusted games lost gives one point for every game missed by a starter. It adds smaller amounts for time missed during the practice week even if a player ultimately suits up on gameday. It is not a perfect metric as some starters are different than others (see the 2015 Cowboys and the loss of Tony Romo) but it’s the best anyone has come up with yet.
Without calculating any of the partial points every team earns due to the nicks and nagging injuries that football inevitably brings, the Cowboys are racking up the points. Here’s a best guess at their baseline for adjusted games lost to date:
La’el Collins 16 games
Blake Jarwin 15 games
Tyron Smith 14 games
Dak Prescott 11 games
Trysten Hill 11 games
Leighton Vander Esch 4 games
Chidobe Awuzie 4 games
Anthony Brown 3 games
Joe Looney 2 games
That’s a total of 80 games and over half the season remains to add to the above names and possibly the last four players’ totals. It’s not clear if Football Outsiders would include defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was the team’s presumptive starter. It also doesn’t even take into consideration some of the sort of starters that are missing time, like linebacker Sean Lee. It’s not yet even begun to calculate the more nuanced portions of this metric.
80 games lost would rank the team No. 20 in 2019. And again, that is the lowest number possible the Cowboys could have this year. That number can not get any lower. By the time things are all said and done this year, this team will likely be the most snake-bitten team in the NFL.