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.
After talking the talk, the defense has been walking the walk. At today's training camp practice alone, LB
Rex: "It was sort of like a feeding frenzy."
2. Pace's View
"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."
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
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."
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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