Turnovers not causing the Rams to lose games

In his Monday talker with the media outlets still interested in the Rams that must be Jim Haslett's Hellish version of Groundhog Day, the interim head coach assigned blame for the Rams seven game losing streak primarily to the turnovers.

Rams RB Steven Jackson lost two fumbles, one returned for a touchdown, and Marc Bulger had a pass intercepted late in the fourth quarter for a painful 99-yard TD return, rubbing even more salt in to the wound. Without a doubt those three incidents were backbreakers, but the game was already out of hand. The one that hurt the most was Jackson's first fumble, which came on the second half opening drive. However, the Cardinals already led 20-7 at that point, and two touchdowns is a lot to ask of an offense that scored two or more touchdowns in game only twice this season (against the Bills in week 4 and the Cowboys in week 7). The defense manged to keep the Cardinals from scoring on their resulting drive, but after getting the ball back deep inside their own territory, Arizona's defense scored on Jackson's second fumble. Game over.

So the fumbles had an impact, but they haven't been a season killer for the Rams. Fumbles, despite the pleadings of conventional wisdom, happen randomly, indiscriminately. Good teams fumble as much as the bad teams; however, the good teams have the personnel to overcome the damage inflicted by the fumbles, feeding the CW's perception that bad team fumble more often.

Look at the stats for fumbles lost. The Cardinals (8-5) and the Buccaneers (9-4) with 12 apiece are tied for the third most in the league. The Rams, with 10, have lost just one more fumble than the Cowboys and Vikings. In terms of total fumbles, the Steelers have more than the Rams. And the ratio of total fumbles to fumbles lost... the Rams 16/10 for 62.5% is a better rate than Tampa Bay, Denver, New England, and Carolina among others. Even in total turnover ratio, the top ten team include the obvious ones like Tennesse and the New York Giants, but also power houses like Kansas City and Cleveland.

Interceptions on the other hand are something a team has more control over, and the Rams, with 18, have the second most in the league. Of course, a team can, to some extent, overcome the INTs as well (see Favre, Brett). For instance, the Cowboys have 17 INTs, but the 25 passing TDs help alleviate the impact, similar deal with the Jets and Vikings too. Even the Texans, who lead the league with 19 INTs, have been able to pass for 18 TDs and rush for 13 to contribute to their 6-7 record, quite respectable when compared to a 2-11 team.

The Rams have bigger problems than just turnovers, lots of them. You might point to their 32% thrid down conversion rate, one of the league's worst, or their abysmal red zone performance for a few answers as to their struggles. Haslett's in a tough position. He has to try and win games with a sorry smattering of players, and putting the blame on the personnel would do nothing to help achieve desired results.

Just don't blame the turnovers.

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