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We aren't recovering enough fumbles!


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It’s been noted that the main reason the Skins have a so-so record of wins and losses is because of their very poor giveaway-takeaway record. We are tied with New Orleans at minus 13 for the most net giveaways of any team in the NFL. Coach Gibbs has noted that it is amazing that we are 5-5 with so many giveaways. If we could just become average in this area, we would be very likely to make the playoffs, because our offensive and defensive rankings are very good.

So what needs to improve to upgrade our giveaway-takeaway numbers? Well, it’s not net interceptions. We have thrown 6 interceptions, but our defense has made 5 interceptions, for a net of –1. This means that fumbles are what is causing our turnovers to be so high. We have a net loss so far this year of 12 fumbles. The offense has fumbled 21 times and has recovered 6 of them. The defense has caused 18 fumbles but has only recovered 3 of them.

Is the offense fumbling more than most teams? Yes, but not by a lot. The average number of fumbles per team to date is 16.3, so the 21 that our offense has coughed up is high, but it’s not the worst in the league (New Orleans leads with 28). The problem is that we only recovered 6 of our 21 offensive fumbles. This is a recovery percentage of 29%, which is very poor, when on average, teams have recovered 51% of their offensive fumbles.

Is the defense causing fewer fumbles than most teams? No, we have caused 18 fumbles to date, which is better than the average of 16.3 fumbles. However, we have done a very poor job of recovering the fumbles we cause, only recovering 3 of the 18 fumbles we caused. This is a 17% recovery of defensive fumbles, the lowest in the league, and very low compared to the league average of 49%.

So neither the offense nor the defense is recovering fumbles at anywhere near the league average rate, much less the rate of the league leaders. Our overall fumble recovery percentage is 23% (9 out of 39 fumbles recovered), compared to a league average of 50% and a maximum (Oakland) of 72%. Our players, both offensive and defensive, seem to be unable to recover fumbles at anything like the average rate.

So why is this, and can it be changed? My observation based on watching every play the Skins have had this year is that we just don’t seem to have many players around the ball when it is fumbled, and many times our guys don’t seem to realize that the ball is on the ground when it is fumbled. I’m not sure how to change the number of players near the ball, but maybe the general alertness of players to fumbles can be increased by coaching. It’s hard to believe that the extreme suckitude of our fumble recovery percentages is just due to chance.

I don’t have all the games on tape, but someone (the coaches, at least) should go over all 39 fumbles in our games this year and see if there is a pattern. Maybe our guys are trying to pick up the ball and run with it when they should be falling on it. Correcting that can be coached and practised. Maybe our guys are losing too many fumbles at the bottom of the pileups. Not sure whether that technique can be coached or not.

Anybody have any ideas?

Here’s the data.


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It just seems to be bad luck, unfortunately. You could also add to that number the fumbles that we have recovered that were ruled "down by contact" by the refs. You would think that sooner or later the bad bounces would even out, but so far they haven't. :(

Also, if you break down those fumbles, I think the majority of them have been Brunell getting hit in the pocket...and it seems that everytime there's an opponent there to strip it from him there's another opponent right there to scoop it up.

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Also, if you break down those fumbles, I think the majority of them have been Brunell getting hit in the pocket...and it seems that everytime there's an opponent there to strip it from him there's another opponent right there to scoop it up.

Actually, Brunell has only fumbled 7 times. None of them were recovered by the Skins. That still leaves 32 fumbles and 9 recoveries by the rest of the team, which is still WAY too few.

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Well that shows what I know. Maybe his just stick out in my head because they always kill us :doh:

Well, he has fumbled more than anyone else on the team. I was wrong to say that none of his fumbles had been recovered by the Skins. One was. Here are the numbers on our offensive fumbles and recoveries. If Brunell could cut down on fumbles by protecting the ball better, it would help a lot.












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21 fumbles for a Joe Gibbs Team. Unheard of.

It must be corrected. Period.

It won't be corrected. Period.

Brunell's tendency to fumble upon getting sacked won't be leaving any time soon. That's just how he holds the ball, and that's just how badly our offensive line plays, especially Chris Samuels.

It's like Tiki Barber in his 2003 year, the year of the fumbles. That's when they reached their peak. Every week the NY media was on his case and his position coach was on his case about protecting the ball and not turning it over upon contact. But once such a habit has been established, it can't be removed mid-season. For some reason, that just doesn't work, no matter how much it gets stressed.

Same with Brunell and Portis. This season Brunell just seems to hold the ball at about the torso level instead of up high by his ear. So when he gets hit, it just falls out.

I'm sure Musgrave is in his ear every week and every game saying "Protect the ball, if you feel the heat just tuck it and go down if you can't throw it away." I'm sure Gibbs has said something too.

I'm sure Byner tells Portis every week to protect the ball. It won't matter right now. Before season's end, he will have coughed it up a few times.

You think Gibbs hasn't said something every week that we keep turning it over? Of course he has. But it doesn't change anything.

Fumbles and carelessness with the ball is not going to change this year. That will have to wait.

But it doesn't matter

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