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Monday, November 07, 2005

Same Old Story, Same Ole Song and Dance

by Mark Quarderer

"How many times do we have to see this before it's not unexpected anymore?"

We had three turnovers that were converted into 17 points in a game we lost 20-10. We are now 16-33 in games where we have multiple turnovers, including 0-6 this year. We lead the league in interceptions. Our quarterback has been sacked 10 times....one of the best in the league.....and has four fumbles. In constrast, David Carr has 9 fumbles and has been sacked over 40 times. Our field goal kicker, once widely regarded as money in the bank, suddenly can't hit an easy one. Either he's got the yips, or there's a problem with the holder, or both.

I have, since the middle of the 2003 season, railed against what I eventually came to call "The Culture of Carelessness". Against Pittsburgh, that culture was on full display. As Donald Driver said..."Nobody's beaten us....we've done it to ourselves."

Accurate. But what is going to be done to fix it?

My prediction is that we'll see more of the same. If the season ended today, we'd have the #1 overall pick by virtue of a worse record against common opponents. We cannot take care of the ball. We just cannot. It's not something that is possible for us to do.

Turnovers remain the story

I have maintained for quite sometime that turnovers are the single biggest factor in football. Not takeaways, not turnover margin. Simply taking care of the ball. About a year and a half ago, in an article that I wish I'd archived, I researched back over the past ten years to see which was a better predictor of wins and losses: turnovers, takeaways, or margin of difference. It was turnovers, and it remains turnovers. Naturally, if you turn the ball over a lot you're going to have a bad margin unless you get a lot of takeaways, and if you take it away infrequently you're going to have a bad margin unless you take very good care of the ball.

But we aren't losing these games because we aren't getting enough takeaways (yes, more would help), we're losing because of the turnovers. Over half the points that have been scored on this team this year have followed turnovers. We've had 19 drives stopped in 7 games by turnovers.....that's almost three per game. Hell....we've only PUNTED 31 times (2nd fewest in the league).

When we had stud playmakers like Ahman and Walker, and a killer offensive line, we had enough firepower to still roll up points on weak teams. Not any more. Although we need to upgrade personnel, IMO, we've simply got to address the turnovers, what is causing them, and how to get them under control. We're on pace to have 38 turnovers this year.

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