Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Fumble Averages Favor Skins

Turnovers are the big story of the Redskins' season thus far. Last week I noted the team's dramatic offensive improvements over last season, and mentioned that a poor turnover differential was likely keeping points down. The turnover differential worsened against the Chiefs on Sunday and now stands at -8 for the season (30th in the league). For comparison the differential for all of last season was just -1--meaning they took the ball from their opponents about as frequently as they gave it back through all 16 games.

Here's the good news: The law of averages should correct most of the Redskins' turnover problem as the season continues. Let me explain. When an offensive player fumbles the ball we would expect the defense to gain possession about 50% of the time because the same number of players on each team are fighting for a ball that is bouncing randomly around the field. You could argue that offensive players tend to have better hands and thus have the advantage, or that defensive players have the advantage because they face the ballcarrier while offensive players are turned away blocking. But the real-world split seems close enough to 50-50 that variances can be explained by statistical noise. For example, during the 2003 NFL season the defensive team recovered 54% of all fumbles. In 2004 defense was again favored with a 52% recovery rate, but so far this year the offense has a slight 51% advantage.

The good news for the Redskins is that they've been horribly unlucky at recovering both offensive and defensive fumbles this season. How unlucky? The Redskins' offense has recovered just 22% of its own fumbles (2 of 9). The defense has fared even worse, recovering just 11% of opponent fumbles (1 of 9). The probability that the team would recover 3 or fewer of 18 fumbles is just 1 in 250. A "normal" fumble recovery rate of 50% would bring their turnover differential to a much less worrisome -2.

In case you're wondering whether the Redskins simply have a team loaded with spectacularly bad fumble recoverers, last season their offense and defense combined for a 49% recovery rate. Around the league in 2004, the New Orleans Saints bested all with a 61% recovery rate and the Philadelphia Eagles trailed the pack at 37%.

The real areas of concern are interceptions and sacks, of which the defense has just one and five, respectively. For comparison, at least 30 NFL players have two or more interceptions, and 12 players have five or more sacks.

Current Washington Post Redskins articles: Turnovers offset positives. Portis feeling better. Gibbs fined for thought crimes. Turnovers change game plan.


'Thought & Humor' said...

We work like a horse.
We eat like a pig.
We like to play chicken.
You can get someone's goat.
We can be as slippery as a snake.
We get dog tired.
We can be as quiet as a mouse.
We can be as quick as a cat.
Some of us are as strong as an ox.
People try to buffalo others.
Some are as ugly as a toad.
We can be as gentle as a lamb.
Sometimes we are as happy as a lark.
Some of us drink like a fish.
We can be as proud as a peacock.
A few of us are as hairy as a gorilla.
You can get a frog in your throat.
We can be a lone wolf.
But I'm having a whale of a time!

You have a riveting web log
and undoubtedly must have
atypical & quiescent potential
for your intended readership.
May I suggest that you do
everything in your power to
honor your encyclopedic/omniscient
Designer/Architect as well
as your revering audience.
As soon as we acknowledge
this Supreme Designer/Architect,
Who has erected the beauteous
fabric of the universe, our minds
must necessarily be ravished with
wonder at this infinate goodness,
wisdom and power.

Please remember to never
restrict anyone's opportunities
for ascertaining uninterrupted
existence for their quintessence.

There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity
under heaven. A time to be
born and a time to die. A
time to plant and a time to
harvest. A time to kill and
a time to heal. A time to
tear down and a time to
rebuild. A time to cry and
a time to laugh. A time to
grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a
time to turn away. A time to
search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to
throw away. A time to tear
and a time to mend. A time
to be quiet and a time to
speak up. A time to love
and a time to hate. A time
for war and a time for peace.

Best wishes for continued ascendancy,
Dr. Howdy

'Thought & Humor'

P.S. One thing of which I am sure is
that the common culture of my youth
is gone for good. It was hollowed out
by the rise of ethnic "identity politics,"
then splintered beyond hope of repair
by the emergence of the web-based
technologies that so maximized and
facilitated cultural choice as to make
the broad-based offerings of the old
mass media look bland and unchallenging
by comparison."

Kate said...

There certainly was some "mystery stuff" going on in that game (ahem - refs)...