Is there a difference between forcing turnovers and creating them? I think there is, so let's take a look... When we talk about forcing a turnover, the word force brings to my mind the word pressure. The pressure the Rams' front four can put on an offense causes the opponent's quarterback to make ill timed throws, in what I believe to be forced turnovers. Creating turnovers happens to be more happenstance then anything, a corner back or linebacker poking his hand in at just the right angle - with just the right force to jar the ball loose - and then being lucky enough to find the ball and fall on it. To debate what is more important - a fumble or an interception - may seem like a silly debate. I have been looking at plenty of blurry screens lately, and I think that as nice as interceptions are, I think that forcing fumbles is the most important - as long as we recover it, of course.
In today's NFL, we play in a pass heavy league, with very complex schemes in a near golden age of quarterbacking; not to mention all the beneficial rules set in place to allow this to become an offensively oriented game. Teams are throwing on average 28.6 passes per game against the Rams this year, - down from 34.2 last year.Teams are completing 66.93% of there total passes against the Rams, who are better at home - 59.26 % - but down right horrid on the road - 75.41%. Out of all those balls being tossed, St. Louis averages .8 interceptions per game. At home, they actually average 1 interception per game; where as on the road its just .5 interceptions per game. This is down from last year, where we finished the year averaging 1.1 interception per game.
You really can't scheme or teach a defense to intercept the ball; there are too many variable: batted balls, player falls down, pressure on the quarterback, ect... What you can do is teach the defense how to strip the ball from the offense. You can scheme this. If we have improved in any stat from 2012 it is in creating turnovers. The Rams are third in the league in forcing fumbles; averaging a total of 1.9 fumbles forces per game - 2.2 at home and 1.5 away. That is a great number, especially for a young team. It tells me a lot about what is being taught by the coaches. It's an improvement over last year, where we averaged just 1.1 fumbles forced per game.
Our defensive front seven is finally finding itself. Solid pressure should increase our interception rate, combined with our safeties learning more every game. The fumble number is much higher, and I would expect it to get higher still; almost double what it was a year ago.
A team can generate turnovers, and they translate into victories. The Rams have a young defensive coordinator - Tim Walton - who watched how Detroit's division foe - the Chicago Bears - were taught to attack the football and take it out of the offensive players hands,. The Bears lead the league the last 2 seasons in forcing fumbles. As I look toward the future, if The Rams can keep up this trend - and master these techniques - they will be one of the top defenses for years to come. Walton haters be aware: behind the scenes - behind the 13 yard cushions - things are happening in a positive way. Every cloud has a silver lining. I just wish I could say the same about other Rams' coordinators.