Tom Brady, Patriots Focused on Playing Turnover-Free Football, Statistics Show Correlation to Success


Tom Brady, Patriots Focused on Playing Turnover-Free Football, Statistics Show Correlation to SuccessFOXBORO, Mass. — Almost every one of the Patriots' practices starts the same way.

After stretching, they break into positional groups, and the offensive skill players (everyone but the linemen) work on ball-control drills. Sometimes they'll mix in footwork drills with a quick back-and-forth with the football. Other times, they'll jog up the field with the ball while another teammate tries to hammer it out.

There are some days when there appears to be a heightened emphasis on these drills, but there has definitely been a stronger message about ball security as the season has progressed, particularly since the Patriots were uncharacteristically sloppy with turnovers earlier in the year.

The Patriots set an NFL record with just 10 turnovers last season, and quarterback Tom Brady played a major role in that area with just four interceptions. But they had 10 giveaways through six games this season, and they've got 15 turnovers through 12 games, which shows they've been better with the ball in recent weeks. Those 15 turnovers are tied for the sixth fewest in the NFL.

Maybe the most surprising aspect has been the pattern of the giveaways. The Patriots have had three games with four turnovers — the first time that's happened in a season during Bill Belichick's New England tenure — which accounts for 80 percent of their turnovers on the season.

Obviously, turnovers translate to success, or a lack thereof, as much as anything. Earlier this season, Belichick said the only statistic more important than turnovers is points, which shows how much he stresses the issue.

It shows, too. Since 2001, the Patriots are 51-5 in regular-season games without a turnover (.911 winning percentage). They're 42-6 with one turnover (.875), 24-10 with two turnovers (.750), 10-9 with three turnovers (.526), 2-9 with four turnovers (.182) and 1-3 with five turnovers (.250).

Group those statistics together, and the Patriots are 93-11 with zero or one turnovers (.894), 34-19 with two or three turnovers (.642) and 3-12 with four or five turnovers (.200). While it's not surprising, the numbers show turnovers have a clear correlation between winning and losing.

The Patriots' last loss came in a four-giveaway performance against the Giants, but they have only turned it over once during their four-game winning streak, causing Brady to stress the importance of continuing that trend.

"[It's] extremely important," Brady said. "There is nothing that correlates more to winning than turnovers. It's hard to overcome, like the Buffalo game [when] we had four interceptions. It's hard to win those games. The Giants game, we had four turnovers. It's hard to win those games. I'd like to think if I didn't throw those interceptions, we'd be in a better position than we are right now. We're trying to make a concerted effort not to throw them, as you always saw. It's been a huge point of emphasis [since] really the Giants game that we lost, and we've done a better job of it. So, hopefully it continues on."

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