Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Turnover Totals


Before we completely close the books on the Dallas 2010 season, I wanted to offer some further analysis about what the team did both of the good and bad variety here for a few weeks. I think one of the most important things going on right now at Valley Ranch and other NFL team facilities is the self-scouting and self-evaluation that must come at the end of every season. This is where teams need to look in the mirror and be very honest about what they see.

What needs to be fixed? What players need to go? And what should be the real points of emphasis as the team begins its spring program and get the ball rolling when the players return from the beach in about 6 weeks and the wheels start turning again.

When you talk about points of emphasis on any team, look no further than turnovers. No statistic correlates to winning more than the turnover ratio. And that is true on a game-by-game basis (where the winner of the turnover battle wins 80%+) or on a season basis.

Look at the playoffs: New England (+28), Pittsburgh (+17), Atlanta (+14), Green Bay (+10), Kansas City (+9), Philadelphia (+9), New York Jets (+9), and Baltimore (+8) are 8 of the top 9 teams in turnover differential. The only good turnover team not in the playoffs is Tampa Bay (+9) and I think we can all agree that they exceeded expectations in 2010.

Now, look at the Top 5 picks in the NFL Draft: Carolina (-8), Denver (-9), Buffalo (-17), Cincinnati (-8), and Arizona (-5).

The Cowboys season somehow ended up at Even. I say somehow, because at the halfway point, this seemed to be as lost a cause as the Cowboys year.

With Wade Phillips running the team, the turnover situation was horrendous on both sides of the ball. The offense had 19 giveaways and the defense had the normal results under Wade, a paltry 10 takeaways - all in the first 8 games.

Since then, with Garrett/Pasqualoni running the two units, things changed dramatically. The offense stopped giving the ball away and in the last 8 games committed just 11 giveaways. And without any real strong explanation, the defense generated 20 takeaways in 8 games. For those of you who do not follow this number with the Cowboys, just know that 20 takeaways for an 8 game stretch is beyond out of character for the Cowboys of this era.

Under Wade Phillips, the Cowboys season total for takeaways started at 29 in 2007, before falling to 22 in 2008, and 21 in 2009. So, for the Cowboys defense to get to 30 in 2010 - especially after having just 10 at the halfway mark is enough to make you ask questions about what tactically changed for the defense.

They offered fewer blitzes and less man-to-man coverage. But, overall, this gigantic leap in this stat is really staggering.

Meanwhile, on offense, the Jason Garrett era for turnovers follows a pattern of good, bad, good, bad. In 2007, they had 24 giveaways, then 33 in 2008, 19 in 2009, and then 30 in 2010.

Tony Romo was the QB for 9 giveaways, and Jon Kitna was the QB for pretty much all of the rest as Stephen McGee did a real nice job of taking care of the football in his 6 Quarters of play.

30 giveaways and 30 takeaways. Exactly even, but a very nice recovery which showed a +9 under Jason Garrett when they went 5-3, as opposed to a -9 under Phillips when the record was 1-7.

Cowboys TurnoversOpponents Turnovers
GameFumbles LostINTSGiveawaysFumbles RecINTSTakeaways+/-
L @ Wash101000-1
L vs Chi1230 00-3
W @ Hou0001 23+3
L vs Ten033000-3
L @ Min022101-1
L vs NYG202235+3
L vs Jack044101-3
L @ GB224000-4
W @ NYG011123+2
W vs Det101112+1
L vs NO213112-1
W @ Ind000044+4
L vs Phi022022E
W vs Was000123+3
L @ Arz123000-3
W @ Phi101134+3

Table Tutorial


As a bonus to you, the dear reader, here is my data from the last 2 seasons, too.


Cowboys TurnoversOpponents Turnovers
GameFumbles (Lost)INTSGiveawaysFumbles (Lost)INTSTakeaways+/-
W @ TB0 (0)001 (0)00E
L vs NYG1 (1)340 (0)00-4
W vs Car0 (0)001 (1)23+3
L @ Den1 (1)122 (1)01-1
W @ KC2 (2)020 (0)00-2
W vs Atl1 (1)012 (1)23+2
W vs Sea2 (1)012 (2)02+1
W @ Phi0 (0)110 (0)22+1
L @ GB2 (2)132 (0)00-3
W vs Was1 (1)120 (0)11-1
W vs Oak0 (0)001 (1)01+1
L @ NYG1 (1)012 (1)12+1
L vs SD1 (0)000 (0)11+1
W @ NO0 (0)002 (2)13+3
W @ Was0 (0)113 (0)11E
W vs Phi0 (0)112 (1)01E
Totals12 (10)91920 (10)1121+2

Table Tutorial

And here are the numbers on the turnover story in the 2 playoff games - clearly a story of two different turnover-related outcomes.

2009 Playoffs:

Cowboys TurnoversOpponents Turnovers
GameFumbles (Lost)INTSGiveawaysFumbles (Lost)INTSTakeaways+/-
W v Phil1 (1)013 (3)14+3
L @ Minn4 (2)130 (0)00-3
Totals5 (3)143 (3)14E


Same chart, but from the 2008 season:

GameFumbles (Lost)INTSFumbles (Lost)INTS+/-
W @ Cle1 (0)12 (0)0-1
W vs Phil2 (1)13 (1)0-1
W @ GB3 (1)12 (1)0-1
L vs Wash1 (0)100-1
W vs. Cin2 (1)11 (1)10
L @ Arz4 (1)02 (2)1+2
L @ St Lou2 (1)300-4
W vs TB001 (1)0+1
L @ NYG1 (1)33 (2)1-1
W @ Wash1 (0)201-1
W vs SF1 (1)02 (1)1+1
W vs Sea012 (1)1+1
L @ Pitt3 (2)32 (2)0-3
W vs NYG2 (0)02 (0)2+2
L vs Balt2 (0)25 (1)0-1
L @ Phil4 (4)11 (1)0-4
Totals29 (13)2028 (14)8-11

Table Tutorial

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