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Turnover Trouble

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As noted by Redskins.com here, this defense has a problem generating turnovers. And the emergence of Jason Campbell as the starter will do little to change that.

The Redskins have recovered just 3 fumbles this season, one more than Oakland and Jacksonville. But each of those teams have over 10 interceptions this year. The Redskins? Two. All this adds up to the least opportunistic defense in the league by a significant margin. We average less than .6 turnovers a game; no other team is below 1. Houston and New Orleans, tied for 31st in takeaways, both have twice as many as the Washington Redskins.

Twenty-one NFL players have more interceptions than the Washington Redskins -- including former Redskins cornerbacks Walt Harris and Champ Bailey. Nine other players have just as many as this team. Our secondary is only responsible for one of those; Kenny Wright had one against Houston and Defensive End Phillip Daniels has the other.

I'm more worried about the interception deficit than the fumble one. We're forcing fumbles (7) but not recovering them (3). That we have the fewest interceptions in the NFL speaks to a number of problems we have defensively. First, turnovers are usually a function of controlling the line. Pressured quarterbacks make hurried decisions and bad passes that typically translate into big plays for the defense. We have fewer sacks than anyone in the league besides Tampa Bay. Second, it means the cornerbacks aren't challenging receivers. Opposing quarterbacks are hitting people in stride with way too much room to maneuver because our DBs, as often as not, aren't even in a position to play the ball. A linebacker (Marcus Washington) should not be 2nd on the team in passes defensed. Opposing QBs are challenging our secondary because they can.

Jason Campbell doesn't play defense so the change of QB isn't instantly going to turn us into a turnover happy defense. There is a schematic problem with the way we are defending the pass right now that needs to be adjusted by the coaches. Bringing in Troy Vincent to replace Adam Archuleta was a bandaid on a stab wound; we're still 31st in the league against the pass giving up a depressing 240 yards a game in the air. If the personnel is the problem then we need to bite our lips and suck it up until the draft (which we've already neutered ourselves for anyways). I have to think, given his resume, that this is a problem Gregg Williams can fix; git 'er dun.

The turnover deficit will be all the more important given what we know about younger QBs. Jason Campbell is not Mark Brunell and, for all the latter's criticisms, he sure could protect the football. You will not do your new, rookie QB any favors by failing to give him a few short fields a game.

It is a troubling development for a previously opportunistic defense. In both 2004 and 2005 we finished with over 25 total turnovers. As of now we're on track for less than 10. No wonder we're 3-6.