Last week, we reported that the New England Patriots were the 8th healthiest team in the NFL en route to winning Super Bowl LI, partially in thanks to new strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera. Hopefully Cabrera can keep the Patriots healthy because head coach Bill Belichick has faced one of the worst stretches of injury luck in recent years.
Football Outsiders reviewed the past 15 seasons to see which coaches have been most affected by games lost to serious injuries. The study highlights that former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy ranked 26th or worse in each of his four seasons in charge, which likely led to his quick dismissal, and that McCoy faced the worst injury luck of any coach. Curiously, Bill Parcells ranks first in the list with an average team ranking the 6th healthiest in the league.
Of the 70 coaches in the study, Belichick ranks 59th with regards to injury luck, with an average league health rank of 21st place. The Patriots have still posted the best winning percentage, despite the injuries, because Belichick has done a great job with building depth on the roster and because QB Tom Brady has generally been available to play at a high level.
The study finds that healthier teams finish the season with a better winning rate, which makes plenty of sense. More importantly, the results show a distinct level of health necessary to win at a consistently level.
Teams that ranks first through 12th all generally average a similar above-average winning rate. Teams ranking 12th through 20th see a decline in performance with each step down in ranking. Teams that rank 21st or worse generally average a similar below-average winning rate.
In other words, teams that rank in the top third of the league in health generally win, teams in the middle third hover around average, and teams in the bottom third generally lose.
The Patriots have bucked this trend by winning in spite of their injuries, but the team wins the Super Bowl and has more postseason success when everyone remains healthy. If New England can be as healthy in 2017 as they were in 2016, then they will have another great chance at winning another Super Bowl title.