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View Full Version : Great News for our Turnover Woes


tony hipchest
06-15-2007, 11:17 AM
Pat kirwan talked about a study he just did where he looked at the bottom 4 teams in turnover differential dating back to 2003. (last year steelers were right above cleveland, detroit, and the raiders, who, not suprisingly, had the 3 worst records in the league).

100% of these teams did better the following year, and improved their turnover by an average margin of 20. speaking of the raiders specifically who was worst at -24, recent history says there is no reason they shoulnt expect to be at -4 next season. he says hes gonna get it up on nfl.com but really wants to get it out to the 4 coaches to show to their team. in fact he said a current HC told him he reads kirwans articles to the team all the time.

i cant remember if we were 4th wost in t.o. margin or actuall turnovers, but its kinda moot anyways. the point is we will not be getting worse and can look at getting better by 20.
when we missed the playoffs because of 2-3 specific turnovers a difference of 20 will put us right back on track as one of the top teams in the nfl. if someone wants to bet you the steelers will get worse, the odds say to count that as money in the bank.

onthebus36
06-15-2007, 11:50 AM
That's an interesting observation. I'll look forward to seeing the article.

lamberts-lost-tooth
06-15-2007, 12:59 PM
Pat kirwan talked about a study he just did where he looked at the bottom 4 teams in turnover differential dating back to 2003. (last year steelers were right above cleveland, detroit, and the raiders, who, not suprisingly, had the 3 worst records in the league).

100% of these teams did better the following year, and improved their turnover by an average margin of 20. speaking of the raiders specifically who was worst at -24, recent history says there is no reason they shoulnt expect to be at -4 next season. he says hes gonna get it up on nfl.com but really wants to get it out to the 4 coaches to show to their team. in fact he said a current HC told him he reads kirwans articles to the team all the time.

i cant remember if we were 4th wost in t.o. margin or actuall turnovers, but its kinda moot anyways. the point is we will not be getting worse and can look at getting better by 20.
when we missed the playoffs because of 2-3 specific turnovers a difference of 20 will put us right back on track as one of the top teams in the nfl. if someone wants to bet you the steelers will get worse, the odds say to count that as money in the bank.

We were 5th worst in turnover margin at -8 I think..and 4th worst in total turnovers with 37.

Livinginthe past
06-15-2007, 01:41 PM
Im trying to think of logical reasons why this trend should exist.

Maybe teams with a huge negative turnover tend to play more conservative the year after in order to limit turnovers - maybe they more aggressive on defense..... who knows?

One of the first things that springs to mind would be having a rookie QB going into his 2nd year in the year the results suddenly improve.

I'd like to hear Kirwans theory on why the trend exists because after a little more digging there is a very erratic nature to the results.

We'll start in 2003 with the 4 worst teams in terms of turnover margin.

29. Chargers -11
30. Cardinals -13
31. Bills -16
32. Giants -16

In 2004 all teams show a remarkable improvement - 2 teams improve their differential by 26 turnovers! (I think thats statistically crazy)

3. Chargers +15 (+26)
7. Bills +10 (+26)
15. Giants +4 (+20)
18. Cardinals +1 (+14)

In 2005 only 1 team continues to improve (Giants) while the other 3 suffer a pretty large relapse, especially the Chargers.

6. Giants +11 (+7)
13. Bills +4 (-6)
25. Chargers -8 (-23)
30. Cardinals -11 (-12)

In 2006, the only team to show consistent improvement over the previous 2 years (Giants) have a sudden dropoff in production.
Chargers massively improve again, as do the Cardinals and Buffalo continue their downward trend from the last 2 years.

3. Chargers +13 (+21)
12. Cardinals +3 (+14)
19. Giants +0 (-11)
23. Bills -5 (-9)

I can see the trend Kirwan describes for the bottom teams in 2003, but if you follow their progress through the following 3 years no two teams seem to share the same pattern.

The Giants steadily improve for 2 years then have a sudden drop off.

Buffalo have a great improvement in 2004 but the next 2 years are spent going backwards.

Arizona are all over the place between 'okay' and very bad.

San Diego are even more erratic going from truly awful, to excellent, to awful and then back to excellent again.

I may take a look at the top 4 teams over the last 4 years and see if they show a more consistent pattern.

tony hipchest
06-15-2007, 02:19 PM
Im trying to think of logical reasons why this trend should exist.

Maybe teams with a huge negative turnover tend to play more conservative the year after in order to limit turnovers - maybe they more aggressive on defense..... who knows?

One of the first things that springs to mind would be having a rookie QB going into his 2nd year in the year the results suddenly improve.

I'd like to hear Kirwans theory on why the trend exists because after a little more digging there is a very erratic nature to the results.

We'll start in 2003 with the 4 worst teams in terms of turnover margin.

I may take a look at the top 4 teams over the last 4 years and see if they show a more consistent pattern.what kirwan did, is like you did for 2003:

29. Chargers -11
30. Cardinals -13
31. Bills -16
32. Giants -16

In 2004 all teams show a remarkable improvement - 2 teams improve their differential by 26 turnovers! (I think thats statistically crazy)

3. Chargers +15 (+26)
7. Bills +10 (+26)
15. Giants +4 (+20)
18. Cardinals +1 (+14)


he then did that for the 4 teams at the bottom in 2004, 2005, 2006 (for instance baltimore was 1 of the bottom 4 in 2006 who had a dramatic increase). he didnt just track 4 teams for 4 years.

so out of the 16 teams who finished in the bottom 4 in the last 4 years, all of them showed an increase the following year at an average of 20. that is pretty amazing. he said the trend he saw was mainly a coaching change (tomlin?) and qb change (say baltimore switching to mcnair). he also said most teams will make turnovers more of a focus in camp like his jets did the year they were at the bottom.

i would say 1 year would be a fluke but 4 years is definitely a steady trend i dont see a team as focused and talented as the steelers breaking.

nevertheless its a good piece of research and i cant wait for the article (especially if he thinks its important enough for the coaches to read and present to their players).

Livinginthe past
06-15-2007, 02:33 PM
Hey Tone,

It will be a very interesting article to read for sure.

I did realise he was referring to the bottom 4 teams of each year (which would typically be 4 different teams) but if this article was set-up an exercise in coaching id be very interested to hear why he thinks the improvement can't be maintained and the reasons some teams fluctuate wildly (San Diego) despite having a solid coaching staff.

If there were sound coaching techniques, and increased focus on turnover differential, I would ask why the coaching staff can't maintain a similar level of performance the next year.

Of course there are only so many turnovers out there and at the end of the day the balance over all 32 teams has to be +0.

I wonder if the same applies to the top 4 teams each year?

Do they experience a sudden drop off?

As San Diego featured in and around that top 4 mark for 2 out of the 4 years, maybe they do.

tony hipchest
06-15-2007, 05:20 PM
Hey Tone,

It will be a very interesting article to read for sure.

I did realise he was referring to the bottom 4 teams of each year (which would typically be 4 different teams) but if this article was set-up an exercise in coaching id be very interested to hear why he thinks the improvement can't be maintained and the reasons some teams fluctuate wildly (San Diego) despite having a solid coaching staff.

If there were sound coaching techniques, and increased focus on turnover differential, I would ask why the coaching staff can't maintain a similar level of performance the next year.

Of course there are only so many turnovers out there and at the end of the day the balance over all 32 teams has to be +0.

I wonder if the same applies to the top 4 teams each year?

Do they experience a sudden drop off?

As San Diego featured in and around that top 4 mark for 2 out of the 4 years, maybe they do.kirwan wasnt suggesting to take the stats to the coaches and have them break down what each team did to correct mistakes and have a turnover turnaround based on all the methods the bottom dwellers used since 03. he was merely suggesting a coach tell his team "we can get this turned around, we will get this turned around, and heres the proof. call it simple motivation, or dangling the carrot of success and achievement in front of the players noses.

i dont know, maybe you think thats to trivial for professionals but i guess its about as trivial as tom coughlin spending 5 minutes with tiki barber to teach him how to hold onto the ball using the "3 points of pressure" technique.

coaching is made up of both simple and complex aspects. marvin lewis could simply instill a professional attitude amongst his players, or simply not draft thugs.

as far as why a team may make a dramatic turnaround in turnover differential and then slip back again, i would think once a problem is diagnosed 1 year, more time is devoted to fixing that problem the next year. once the problem appears fixed, less attention and practice is paid to it, and the problem returns. this can be seen with the steelers actually spending more time on special teams under tomlin.

revefsreleets
06-15-2007, 09:02 PM
I was thinking the same thing. TO's are glaring and embarrassing errors, and it seems like TO's breed TO's. If your team falls behind, then you need to take more chances with more passes and risky plays thereby increasing your odds of turning the ball over more, and so on and so forth. What was that football movie where the kid who always fumbled had to always carry a ball with him and the players were always trying to knock it away? "The Program"? It's probably a lot like that. The coaches make it a high profile issue.

theropodx
06-16-2007, 04:39 AM
This is true--we should expect things to turn around. Statistics play a far larger roll in player's and team's success than many people understand.

My example is flipping a coin: statistics say you'll get heads 50% of the time. People interpret that to mean you'll tend to get heads/tails/heads/tails... with maybe a double or triple run of either heads or tails from time to time. Actually, you're likely to get a run of 5, or ten in a row! In fact, you'll only see the 50% average when you flip for a large sample like 100 times or more. (Easy experiment to try if you disagree.)

I don't doubt there are other factors at work here. Teams likely work on the problems they have the year before. Certain players might be more to blame for a string of fumbles, and that player doesn't get the ball the next season, etc.

Still, if ONLY statistics were at play (again, take the coin flip as an example), you're likely to get RUNS of good (heads) and bad (tails).

Galax Steeler
06-16-2007, 06:21 AM
I don't think our tunovers can be any worse than they was last year.

tony hipchest
06-16-2007, 11:20 AM
http://nfl.com/news/story/10226836 see link for actual breakdown of turnovers and sacks allowed for the bottom 4 teams in both categories the past 4 years. oddly enough, most of the teams worst in sacks got better the following year. keep in mind the steelers were 4th worst in turnovers and -8 in t.o. differential which is 1 away from being tied with detroit for 4th worst.
Offseason's the time for problem solving

By Pat Kirwan
NFL.com Senior Analyst




(June 15, 2007) -- In the offseason, every head coach has to take a long look at his biggest problems and resolve to solving them one way or the other before the new campaign begins. The issues range from personnel changes, coaching changes, attitude adjustments, practice methods, and structural changes to the playbook, just to name a few.

For now, I'll focus on two critical areas for any football team -- turnovers and sacks -- and take a realistic look at what the worst teams in 2006 can do to turn things around. I spent a lot of time talking with members of the Oakland Raiders team and coaching staff this week while they were at a Raiders function to support the Special Olympics. Coincidentally, the Silver & Black was the worst team in the league last season in sacks allowed (72) and turnovers (minus-23 differential).

Can these two critical areas be fixed in a one offseason? What does recent history tells us about the difficulty of repairing these issues and what are the realistic goals for the bottom four teams in both areas?


New coach Lane Kiffin is busy trying to mend Oakland's issues before the new season begins.
I went back four seasons and looked at what the teams that finished in the bottom four spots in both categories did the following year. The results indicate that there is absolutely no reason a team can't totally change its fortunes around in the turnover battle and there's a great chance of fixing the sacks total as well. Before you take a look at the chart for the follow-up season, know that 100 percent of the teams improved in turnovers and 85 percent improved in sacks.

Head coaches Lane Kiffin (Oakland), Romeo Crennel (Cleveland), Jon Gruden (Tampa Bay) and Rod Marinelli (Detroit) can all stand in front of their respective teams and tell them there is no excuse for not having a turnover improvement of close to 20 in the turnover ratio. That has been the average improvement over the past four years.

For example, the New Orleans Saints were the worst in the NFL in 2005 with a minus-24, and improved to a minus-4 last season. That's right on the three-year average. Also in 2005, the Ravens were tied for third worst in turnovers with a minus-10. Last year, they led the NFL with a plus-17. In 2003, the N.Y. Giants and Buffalo Bills were the worst with a minus-16. A year later, the Giants were a plus-20 and the Bills were a plus-26.

Sacks are a little tougher, but Oakland only has to point to the worst team in the three previous years to get excited about what it can do in 2007. Back in 2003, Buffalo gave up the most sacks with 51 and came back in '04 with 38. In 2004, the Bears surrendered 66 and returned in '05 with a total of 31. In 2005, the Texans saw their quarterback on the ground 68 times and improved to 43 in 2006.

Oakland's Josh McCown says quarterback decision-making is going to make a big difference. JaMarcus Russell tells me the Oakland receivers look great and his head is buried in the playbook.

Here are the bottom four teams in turnovers and sacks and what they did the following year:

[see link]

Raiders players and coaches believe offensive line coach Tom Cable is going to fix the problems. Running backs coach Tom Rathman has really liked the attitude and the hustle on the practice field all spring. But of course, there is a new head coach in town. It's amazing how many teams that showed great improvements in turnovers and sacks had a new head coach the year they turned things around.

Every coach and player who is embarrassed by his team's sack and turnover totals know it's hard work -- the big emphasis is on improvement. But these coaches and players can't sit there and throw their hands up in the air and say it can't be done in such a short time.

Livinginthe past
06-16-2007, 11:59 AM
Thanks for posting the article, Tone :cheers:

Things that spring to mind.

As I mentioned yesterday (and its pretty obvious) for every positive turnover, somewhere in the league there must be a negative turnover to balance it.

Now these teams in the bottom 4 can tell themselves that there is plenty of room for improvement but this improvement must come at the expense of other teams.

In other words, other teams must take their eye off the ball (literally sometimes) in order to give these teams back those turnovers.

It has been mentioned many times about the correlation between turnovers and a teams actual record - the 2006 Steelers are probably the best example of that (talented yet careless) -

So why are teams consistently diverting attention away from this aspect of the game if it is so important? (and according to Kirwan so easy to improve)

That is the next step for me - why are teams losing focus on such a key area?

tony hipchest
06-16-2007, 01:02 PM
Thanks for posting the article, Tone :cheers:

Things that spring to mind.

As I mentioned yesterday (and its pretty obvious) for every positive turnover, somewhere in the league there must be a negative turnover to balance it.

Now these teams in the bottom 4 can tell themselves that there is plenty of room for improvement but this improvement must come at the expense of other teams.

In other words, other teams must take their eye off the ball (literally sometimes) in order to give these teams back those turnovers.

It has been mentioned many times about the correlation between turnovers and a teams actual record - the 2006 Steelers are probably the best example of that (talented yet careless) -

So why are teams consistently diverting attention away from this aspect of the game if it is so important? (and according to Kirwan so easy to improve)

That is the next step for me - why are teams losing focus on such a key area?

the answers to these questions go hand in hand with why the average life expectancy a head coach has with a particualr team in the nfl is 3 years. you would have to ask that question to one of the dozens of head coaches who have been fired in recent years. if crennell doesnt figure it out do you really think he will be in cleveland in 08? art shell obviously didnt figure it out. neither did denny green.

you always here the cliche "getting back to fundamentals in practice". the "tackle" and holding on to the ball are 2 of the most fundamental aspects of the sport, yet you would be suprised how few teams actually practice tackling. of course coaches dont want to get their multi million dollar players hurt. there is a risk/reward factor.

also, there are only so many hours in a workday for an nfl player. it is up to the coach to manage this time. some coaches may use 2 hours to practice 200 offensive plays every day and maybe only use 115 of those plays throughout the year. in the meantime they set aside only 15 minutes for special teams and maybe 5-10 minutes for some fundamental drills. doesnt seem too balanced. there are actually coaches out their that dont believe that special teams is 33% part of the game because in a 60 minute game the special teams are not on the field 33% of the time. it all boils down to a coaches philosophy.

there is no nfl mandate that specifies what coaches do with their time. i was not suprised at all with the article in whichs steeler players warned fans at camp to expect less flash on offense and defense (scrimmaging) and more focus on boring special teams.

one must also look at ownership. are players gonna bitch and whine about doing drills and windsprints to build fundamentals and endurance? will they go to ownership and have them step in and tell the head coach to cool it?


so in the past 4 years the 16 worst teams have turned it around and gained 320 in the turnover differential off of the better teams. this makes sense. the ravens think they got it figured out so naturally theyre not going to spend as much time in practice focussing on it. it has been a trend with them. the year before the bungles lead the league in interceptions and just like clock work were not able to maintain that level of excellence.
the steelers have always been on the + side of the turnover margin. last year was obviously a fluke, and theres a reason cowher, grimm, and wiz arent the head coach. like it has been said, tomlin presented the rooney with a plan that they saw was going to work. with almost 4 decades of being a top team they obviously recognize a working plan. those expecting tomlin and the team to struggle are in for a suprise.

kirwan is not pushing a theory, but merely pushing statistical fact. i dont think its too comlex. the poor teams with good coaching will focus more on their mistakes, and the good teams with poor coaching will rest on their laurels and get sloppy.

tony hipchest
09-01-2007, 02:18 PM
preseason is good for guaging fundamental play such as holding on to the ball and creating turnovers.

through 5 games the steelers were +6 in t.o. differential.

they threw 2 interceptions and coughed up the ball 2 times. the only alarming thing is 3 of the 4 were committed by ben and willie, but i attribute this to sack pressure on ben as opposed to not knowing the playbook or being prepared. i attribute willies fumble to lack of carries and getting used to the speed of the game again.

regardless, the best thing about tomlin is he quickly addresses a problem and "makes it dissappear". seplulveda and w. reid had plenty of opportunities to shank or muff a punt in the game after the eagles game. however the problems looked to be quickly rectified.

i think we will see the exact same in the games this year as (far as turnovers are concerned).

preseason shows we are on the right path and i never take heavilly, fact based, kirwan research and predictions lightly.

we can make the turnovers disappear, but our team would really suck if we terminated all those who caused them. the steelers will be fine in 07.

tony hipchest
10-12-2007, 04:47 PM
i gotta give props again to some excellent research in kirwans article. this type of info is a gamblers dream.

heres the steelers #'s through 1/3 of the season:


Digits
2 - More turnovers than takeaways the Steelers had through their first five games last season.

4 - More takeaways than turnovers the Steelers have through their first five games this season.


+6 = same t.o. differential as in the preseason (noted in prior post). i see a pretty steady trend, by both the steelers and kiwan.

+6 through roughly 1/3 of the season extrapolates to +18

+18 this year over -2 last year would be an increase of 20. kirwans premis confirmed!

i havent looked yet but im willing to bet detroit, oakland, and cleveland are on the same curves. their records and recent climb from the bottom suggests as much.

the point is we will not be getting worse and can look at getting better by 20.


so not all blind faith is total homerism :tt02:

Edman
10-13-2007, 03:29 AM
You don't turn the ball over, you win. What a novel idea.:smile: