Nate Dunlevy really floored me today when he announce, breathlessly, that he had the answer to the Colts absolute collapse last year. It was injuries.
All kidding aside, Nate uses our nightmare season as a great way to explain a terrific statistic: adjusted games lost (AGL). AGL essentially tells us how severely injuries impact a team's ability to win. In this case, the answer may surprise you:
The Colts were an abject disaster before the season even began. When Peyton Manning went in for his second surgery, all hope for the Colts went with him. Even so, Indy's injury problems went deeper than just Manning. By the end of the first two games, they had lost Gary Brackett and Melvin Bullitt as well.
The Colts finished the year with 84.7 adjusted games lost, good for 28th in the NFL. Believe it or not, that was an improvement. They were 31st in 2010.
Wait, what!? 2010 was worse from an injury standpoint? They won 10 games and had Peyton Manning. How could it be worse? While the Colts faced a tremendous deficit without Peyton Manning, in 2010 the injury flaws weren't just severe, they were incredibly widespread. In 2010 they lead the league in games lost by starters due to injury. Peyton Manning lost Dallas Clark, Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez not to mention the problems defensively. The Colts ended the 2010 season with 17 players on injured reserve.
It was a rough stretch to say the least.