Jets Continue To Lose the Turnover Battle


Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Though we are only a few games into the season, the New York Jets already find themselves in the red in terms of turnover differential at -2. Facing an onslaught of top tier quarterbacks in the weeks ahead, this is a trend that Rex Ryan’s squad needs to flip in the opposite direction if they want to keep their season from going south in a hurry.

Following Sunday’s loss to the Packers in Lambeau this past Sunday, it is evident that the Jets are fully capable of giving the upper echelon teams in this league all they can handle. It is well documented that it is extremely difficult to run the ball against the front seven Rexy rolls out each week, and thus far the offense has provided a glimmer of hope that they will be an improved version of what we saw out of them a year ago.

However, due to the massive holes in the secondary and the up and down play of Geno Smith, it is also evident that the Jets’ margin of error is much smaller than teams such as the Patriots and Broncos. The difference between winning and losing games in the NFL is razor thin, and New York consistently tests these limits by coughing up the ball more than the opposition.

Unfortunately for the Jets, they have been losing the turnover battle for a number of years now. During Rex’s five-year tenure with the team, they have only had more takeaways than giveaways in two seasons, 2009 and 2010. Not surprisingly, these were the years New York made deep playoff runs. The Jets haven’t had a winning season since 2010, as this metric has gone the opposite way for them in each of the last three seasons:

2009: +1
2010: +9
2011: -3
2012: -14
2013: -14

The uptick is giveaways by the Jets during this period is mostly due to the unexpected regression of Mark Sanchez in 2011/2012 and the growing pains endured by Geno a year ago. Though I am in agreement with the perception that New York’s QB’s have had to play with marginal supporting casts the last few years, the sheer amount of  inopportune interceptions and fumbles is quite staggering. I am sure the concept of ball security and limiting mistakes in the red zone was being shoved down the throats of the players throughout the preseason, but against Oakland and Green Bay we saw the same old mistakes occurring.

On the defensive side of the ball, New York boasts a unit that takes great pride in being one of the more physical gangs in all of football. For a defense that enjoys taking the fight to their opponents, they must make a concerted effort to try and generate more turnovers. Last year, the Jets jarred quite a few balls loose; however, in an interesting stat, they were actually historically inept/unlucky when it came to recovering fumbles.

As noted by, the Jets defense (and special teams) forced 18 fumbles and recovered only two of them. The team now owns the unfortunate distinction of being in the first team in NFL history to recover fewer than three opponent fumbles in a season. In light of this anomaly, in retrospect it is somewhat shocking that the team finished with an 8-8 record in 2013. In theory, this statistic should revert back to the “mean” this season, with New York recovering its fair share of fumbles and creating a few extra possessions each game for an offense that could use all the help it can get.

The Bears will come into town on Monday night equipped with an abundance of skilled wideouts and a quarterback in Jay Cutler that is quite capable of tearing apart a defense when given a clean pocket to work from. The Jets are more than due for a period of time in which the turnover differential tilts in their direction, and receiving a clean game from Geno Smith while forcing the Bears into a couple of mistakes would go along way towards a bounce back win.