When Geno's Turnovers Happen

Sometimes you dig through stats to confirm an impression you have about a game or general play. Sometimes when you look at the data you find out your impression was wrong - like when I examined the effect hitting Tom Brady had - and sometimes you just get a clearer picture, a confirmation that spells it all out. This for me was a little like the latter. I had a growing sense, as many probably do, that as much as has been made of Geno's turnovers it seemed like most of them happened when he was either significantly behind in a game, or late, when he was trying to make a play, climbing up hill. The idea was that as a rookie we want to keep him from those deficit positions when he might be tempted to push the risk/reward factor. So I looked at when his turnovers have happened through the season.



Above solid bars are INTs, and their numerical value is the number of points behind the Jets were. Below the line constitutes a lead (green). The hatched bars are fumbles lost, and the empty bars are fumbles recovered - recovered fumbles are included because statistically recovery is close to a 50/50 proposition, I believe. Unfortunately dropped INTs could not be included because they aren't in the data (ESPN play by play), that would be interesting. The dotted blue line is the 8 point deficit mark, above that is more than a score behind. 4th Quarter turnovers are noted by the gray "4". The first thing that jumps out is that larger deficits are a bigger factor recently. And then that nearly all of them are occurring with the Jets behind.

63% of turnovers were with the Jets down more than one possession and/or in the 4th quarter trailing.

89% of them were with the Jets trailing (15) or tied (2).

Only the Buffalo game had turnovers with the lead. There are a few provisos to this data picture. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that the Jets have been behind for more plays than ahead. The simple fact that wins have been close, and there have been a few blowouts suggests this. So just in terms of distribution we'd suspect more turnovers when at a deficit. And one would guess that an increase in turnovers is a tendency for most QBs when behind. That being said this distribution seems more than average. It seems that indeed Geno struggles with turnovers when trying to catch up or get over the hump, increasing the risk as he tries to make a play.

This could mean a few things for the Jets as they try to protect against turnovers. The common sense call has been for more run game. Run it and run it, try to control the time of possession. Don't let Geno expose himself to turnovers. The problem with this really is that it only works if the Defense is pretty stout, and if the run game can get traction. But as can be seen in the Cincinnati game when the Defense gives up early scores the Jets end up playing nearly the whole game in the Geno Smith danger zone. There may be a balance that needs to be struck between ball control and letting Geno stay aggressive early against more high-powered teams, like for instance the Saints coming up, before we find ourselves in a deficit and trying to climb back into it. It could be that attack-Geno is the best prophylactic against turnover-Geno. This seemed to be the case in the Atlanta game, when after a fairly conservative passing call 1st drive, in the 2nd drive Geno threw 2 passes for 20 yard completions (TD), and in the 3rd drive completed one for 47 and then a 16 yard TD. Maybe the answer is to open it up early and reign it in a little late. This was what they did in the New England game, though the OT play calling was a little too tight.

as usual, these are hand-collected stats there may be errors.

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