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    Jets Game Plan is a 30-minute preview show co-hosted by Jeane Coakley and Brian Custer with analysts Ray Lucas and Erik Coleman, providing a comprehensive look ahead at the week's upcoming matchup.

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6 Notes & Quotes on Jets Turnovers

Posted Jul 30, 2014

Rex Ryan Has Put a Priority for This Camp on Taking the Ball Away, Not Giving It Away

Talk about your rankings. Rex Ryan ranked his team priorities for training camp and recently revealed: "We've got to get takeaways — that's number one."

How are we faring at SUNY Cortland this summer at turning around the two opponents' fumble returns, minus-14 turnover ratio and one touchdown after turnovers of last season? Here are six notes and quotes about takeaways and giveaways and how they might apply to our season ahead.

1. Things are "Pick"-ing Up

After talking the talk, the defense has been walking the walk. At today's training camp practice alone, LB Demario Davis, showing improved coverage skills in his third NFL season, highlighted his monster session with a pick-six of Geno Smith and another PD that almost went the route.

Also today, Antonio Allen, he of the lone takeaway TD last year (vs. Tom Brady in Game 8), also had a return TD vs. Michael Vick. Other picks were recorded by Ellis Lankster, Brandon Dixon and free agent LB Steele Divitto.

Rex: "It was sort of like a feeding frenzy."

2. Pace's View

LB Calvin Pace, the current Jet with the most takeaway plays in the past six seasons (eight TAs, eight forced fumbles, one PD that was intercepted), feels the coaches' emphasis is helping the defense's mindset.

"It's just working on it, pounding it in guys' heads," Pace told me today. "Hey, you get the ball, you can scoop and score. The running back's wrapped up? Rake the ball out. It's always the M.O. around here: Once a fumbler, always a fumbler. Some guys have trouble with ball security and you've got to take advantage of that."

3. Where Were the Recoveries in '13?

It sounds so simple, yet last year the Jets had one of the worst fumble seasons in NFL history, recovering only two opponents' fumbles, only one of those on defense.

"The crazy thing is that the ball was on the ground a lot," said Pace. "We just, for whatever reason, didn't get to it."

Those two recoveries last fall are a big part of the reason Rex is emphasizing turnovers this summer. But with the talent on the defense, there is also good reason to think that last season was an anomaly, not a trend.

"They call them 50-50 balls, and sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce your way," said CB Dimitri Patterson said of his research on the team he would be joining this offseason after two years with the Dolphins. "I didn't really put a lot of emphasis on last year. My experience has told me you can't live in the past in this league — good or bad. If you finished as the No. 1 secondary last year, so what? You've got to come out and prove you can do it again. I just think that right now we're going in a really good direction."

4. Improving the Plus-Minus

At some point all coaches point to the plus-minus turnover stats. As assistant head coach/running backs Anthony Lynn said, "No question, if you go back and look over the last decade, turnovers determine wins and losses in this league."

We did just that for you. In the NFL the past 10 years, teams with a plus margin in game won four of every five games (1,708-432, .798 percentage). When the Jets in 2013 had a plus turnover margin, they were 4-0. When it was minus they were 1-8. In franchise history, when their plus-minus is positive, their winning percentage is .776 (257-74). When it's negative, the percentage plummets to .176 (63-294).

5. The Offense's Contribution

We were minus-14 for the second straight season last year, but it could've been lower, except that the one turnover area that we excelled in was not giving the ball away on offense with only seven lost fumbles. And that's no accident, Lynn said.

"That's something we try to emphasize every season: ball security, taking care of the football," he said. "Contact fumbles, we can control those. We drill it in practice, we see it and we make the correction. We try to give our players the least amount of coaching points possible so they don't have to think too much. We work on three points of pressure — the tip of the ball, the crease of the ball, and high and tight. And if we can get guys to think 'wrist above elbow,' most of the time everything else falls in place."

6. Taking the Takeaways to the House

The one last point we'll make today is about, similar to takeaways themselves, how important return scores are. Last season, the team in Jets games that had an advantage in takeaway TDs was 4-0. In the five seasons under Rex Ryan, the team with the takeaway-TD edge is 21-4.

"What we’re really trying to do as a team is understand in the big picture that it’s not just good enough to keep people off the scoreboard," Ryan said. "That's obviously your No. 1 goal, but it’s also to score points with turnovers, and set your offense up to score."

"Big plays breed more confidence, and that’s what we have to have," Davis added. "I think that’s why Coach put a big emphasis on turnovers, and today was a day that we actually came out there and did that. We have to be able to do the same thing tomorrow. And if we don’t, that success might have been just smoke."





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