Turnovers tell success, failure in football

Oct 7, 2008 5:02 PM

Feist Facts by Jim Feist |

Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner threw for 472 yards and 35 points two weeks ago as a road dog at the NY Jets. Impressive. Did they win? Or cover? It wasn’t even close, as Arizona got destroyed 56-35, trailing 35-0 at the half.

There’s only one explanation, and it’s obvious – seven turnovers. Miscues are one of the most basic fundamentals of winning football. Defensive coaches have been preaching more aggressive, attacking stop units over the last decade.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier when asked about what the biggest change he noticed in the college game, spoke about defenses. He mentioned when first taking over at Duke in the 1980s, defenses were basic and reacted to what the offense would try and do on each play.

Since that time, defenses have become far more aggressive, trying to attack the offense rather than sit back and react. Two decades ago the Chicago Bears famed "46" defense caused havoc around the league during a 1985 Super Bowl season. The Bears that year were 18-1 SU and 15-3-1 ATS. They pitched four shutouts and held 14 of 19 opponents to 10 points or less.

Last season the top eight teams in the AFC in plus-turnover margin started an impressive 55-40-1 ATS. The eight AFC teams in the bottom half for TO margin combined to start 37-54-4 ATS.

A year ago after four weeks of play, the top teams in turnover margin had winning records and a 22-6 ATS mark combined!