As Ball Slips Away, So Do Jags' Chances; Team's Negative Turnover Differential among the Worst in NFL
Stellino, Vito, The Florida Times Union
Byline: VITO STELLINO
One of the things coach Jack Del Rio stressed going into the Indianapolis game last week was winning the turnover battle.
Instead, the Jaguars lost that 2-0, the game and control of their playoff destiny.
That left them minus-12 for the season, the worst turnover differential in the AFC and only two better than the league-worst Minnesota Vikings.
"You've got to win the turnover battle in this league," Del Rio said. "You're not going to do it turning it over and losing that battle. So we'll be beating that drum this week."
The Jaguars (8-6) lost the turnover battle in all six of their losses.
They were minus-5 against Cleveland and minus-3 against Buffalo and won both. In their other six victories, they won the turnover battle.
The NFL's top six teams in turnover ratio all have winning records. New England leads with plus-20, and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are tied for second at plus-14.
In the first Colts game, all the attention went to kicker Josh Scobee for his 59-yard field goal on the final play. But the Jaguars won the turnover battle in that game by the same 2-0 margin they lost it in the rematch.
The two Colts games illustrate how the turnovers can make such a critical difference.
One problem for the Jaguars is they've recovered only five fumbles, just one in the last five games. Only Houston has fewer recoveries on the season.
Conversely, the Jaguars have lost 11 fumbles, ninth most in the league.
Through the air, the Jaguars have thrown 18 interceptions and picked off only 12.
Del Rio said he's put a lot of emphasis on turnovers, but he hasn't received much in the way of results.
"It's something we work on, we drill it every week," he said. "We talk about it every week, and we're going to continue to do that."
Last year, the Jaguars finished with a plus-2 turnover ratio and still wound up with a losing record (7-9).
"In the eight years I've been here, we've been pretty good at protecting the football," Del Rio said. "That's been one of the hallmarks of our football team. We protected it and not turned it over a lot."
Del Rio also noted that turnovers tend to come in bunches.
"You kind of break the ice with one and then you get a second and a third. We saw an example of that when Terrance Knighton got it started with that interception in Dallas. It kind of broke the ice, there," he said.
The Jaguars wound up intercepting Jon Kitna four times in that game.
They also might have a shot at some interceptions on Sunday, because Rex Grossman will be making just his second start for Washington and threw two interceptions last week against the Cowboys.
Middle linebacker Kirk Morrison, who is still looking for his first forced fumble this year, said, "The numbers don't lie."
He said Del Rio told them that a team with a plus-1 edge in the turnover ratio has a 3-1 advantage of winning the game.
But Morrison said the defense can't press just to get turnovers.
"You don't want to mess up your job," Morrison said. …