Fumbles are a luck-driven category
Posted May. 04 at 01:57 PM
Is it possible to forecast fumbles? Can we, with any confidence, identify which defenses will lead the league in forcing and recovering fumbles by opponents?
I don’t think so.
You might think that a defense with somebody like Jared Allen, Ray Lewis or Ndamukong Suh would fare well. Lord knows that when those guys force or recover a fumble, it will be pointed out on Sportscenter. But the reality is that it’s a statistic that’s driven (I think) mainly by luck.
I was looking at this yesterday. There were three defenses last year that finished with only 3-4 fumble recoveries, so I wanted to look at the historical numbers. Have these kind of defenses in the past tended to be horrible again.
Since 1990, there have been 27 defenses that have recovered 6 or fewer fumbles in a season. These are the worst of the hundreds of defenses in the last 20-plus seasons. The next year those same defenses recovered an average of 11.4 fumbles.
In the same period, 25 defenses have recovered 20-plus fumbles. This is the best of the best group. That group the next year averaged 13.1 fumble recoveries – so less than 2 more fumbles per team, on average. And that’s the absolute best weighed against the absolute worst.
If you want to expand the survey, the results are almost identical. If you look at the bottom 60 defenses (those recovering under 8 fumbles) they recovered 11.5 fumbles the next year. The top 66 defenses (18-plus fumbles) finished up at 13.4.
So this category appears to be little more than a crapshoot.
Now, as I pointed out yesterday, fumbles are on the decline. Teams averaged only 9.5 last season, and I believe that’s the direction the league is headed. So on our board, I believe you’ll see every team hovering around that 9.5 mark. We’ll project just a few teams to finish maybe 1-2 fumbles above that mark (most notably the 49ers). Maybe the Colts and another team or two will be slotted 1-2 below that mark. But the vast majority will be crammed in the middle.
Posted by ERIC SCOLNICK | May. 04 at 10:18 PM
It is not so much how many fumbles you get, it is what you do with them. Some teams (Chicago for example) turn those fumbles into TD's on a consistant basis more than other teams.
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