Turnovers can turn the tide

Oct 10, 2006 2:46 AM

Turnovers and the lack of, are important basic fundamentals of winning football:

Defensive coaches have been preaching more aggressive, attacking stop units over the last decade. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has spent two decades coaching college and pro football, at Duke, Florida, South Carolina and the Washington Redskins. When asked about the biggest change he noticed in the college game, Spurrier spoke of defenses. He mentioned that when he was at Duke in the 1980s, defenses were basic. He reacted to what the offense would do each play.

Since that time, defenses have become far more aggressive. Defensive schemes are designed to attack and not react to the offense. It’s also been happening in the NFL.

The Chicago Bears famed 46 defense dominated the league during a 1985 Super Bowl season. The Bears were 18-1 straight up, 15-3-1 against the spread. Their attacking defense pitched four shutouts and held 14 of 19 opponents to 10 points or less.

Both pro and college defensive coaches teach proper tackling and stripping the ball from opposing players. Tony Dungy, Marvin Lewis and Lovie Smith have used their teaching talents to upgrade defenses. St. Louis coach Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett have orchestrated a surprising 3-1 SU/ATS start, forcing a league best 13 turnovers and a +10 differential.

None of the bottom five teams in turnover margin in the NFL last season made the playoffs and all had losing records. Notice from a handicapping perspective the awful spread records.

The worst teams in terms of turnover differential last season were a combined 36-57 ATS. A quarterback throwing too many picks can kill the momentum of his offense, while his confidence begins to wear down and spill onto the sidelines.

All the top teams in TO margin made the playoffs in last season and Seattle went to the Super Bowl.

The top teams in 2006 in turnover margin after four weeks were the Rams, Ravens, Colts, Falcons and Bears. All had winning records and three were undefeated.