Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is impressed by the New England Patriots ability to create turnovers while also not gifting the ball to the opponent either, and he shared his thoughts on the Pats league-leading +24 turnover differential. That is an incredible number, and it is the combination of a playmaking defense and an elite quarterback who almost never throws a pick.
Tom Brady currently leads the league in interception percentage by throwing a pick just 0.7% of the time (three in total). In fact, the Pats are more likely to fumble the football than throw a pick, but Stevan Ridley has done a good job of keeping those fumbling issues under wraps.
Looking at the defense, rookie safety Tavon Wilson leads the team with four picks and fellow rookie Alfonzo Dennard has three picks on the year. The Patriots have picked off 14 passes this season, with safeties Devin McCourty and Steve Gregory adding three and two picks respectively. Rob Ninkovich and Brandon Spikes have combined for nine fumbles forced, and Jerod Mayo and Chandler Jones have three FFs apiece. Ninko and Vince Wilfork pace the team with four and three fumble recoveries each.
Philbin told MassLive.com, “That’s a great place to start if you want to talk about winning football games in the National Football League. It’s a great credit to their players and coaches; these guys do a fantastic job. We devote practice time to take the ball away … our practice time and our production don’t match up. But my guess is New England devotes time to it and they’re good at it. And sometimes you do have to take advantage of an opportunity if an opponent does make a mistake. Certainly you’re going to have a chance to get some takeaways there too, but I would guess as thorough and as detailed as those guys are, I’m sure they work on it, and they do it well.”
I do agree that the Pats preparation, practice, and emphasis on creating turnovers has a lot to do with it, but I also think it has more to do with the personnel. Just look at this roster. Ninko and Spikes are punishers who have an eye for the ball, Gregory has good ball skills, Wilson is a hawk, and McCourty is one of the best defensive players in the game. It’s also easy to have a high turnover rate when your quarterback is Tom Brady and has only thrown three picks in 11 games this season.
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