Whoever said, “98 percent of all statistics are made up,” obviously wasn’t into football.
No, no, dear readers. Statistics are very real, so don’t think for a minute that when the New York Giants coaches—however many remain after this week—commence their analysis 2013, they won’t be charting trends related to what went wrong.
In my opinion, turnovers were a huge issue for the Giants' floundering offense. I've broken down three trends resulting from the Giants' careless ball-security practices—trends that must be reversed if this team is serious about qualifying for the postseason.
Tom Coughlin has said it countless times, and I’d be willing to bet a loaf of my homemade banana bread that other head coaches before him, and at all levels of competition, have said it repeatedly as well:
A lot of good those words did the Giants in 2013.
In 2013, New York finished with a minus-15 net difference in its turnover ratio. That put the Giants 31st in the league, just ahead of the Houston Texans (minus-20).
Moreover, that final tally was a steep drop-off from 2012, when they were plus-14 (fourth in the NFL). It was also their worst finish in the Coughlin era since 2007, when they finished minus-nine (26th in the NFL).
I'm not telling you something you don't already know when I, to quote Babu from Seinfeld, say that turnovers are "very, very bad man."
But just how bad were they for the Giants?
Here's the breakdown per NFL Game and Statistics and Information System (login required):
In their nine losses this season, the Giants lost the turnover battle seven times. In the other two losses, they broke even with their opponent.
In their six wins, they only lost the turnover battle one time, to Oakland. Their margin of victory in that game, against a team with an "unstable" quarterback situation?
Four points (24-20).
Interceptions per Dropbacks
In 2011, a Super Bowl MVP season, quarterback Eli Manning threw 17 interceptions, 10 fewer than what he threw in 2013.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required) that comes to an average of one interception per every 47.2 dropbacks.
This season, Manning averaged one interception per every 22.07 dropbacks. That’s a rather alarming stat considering that in 2013, Manning dropped back to throw no fewer than 25 times per game in 2013.
If you’re looking for some consolation, know that Manning’s average isn’t tops in the NFL.
With apologies to Nick Foles of the Eagles, who only started 11 games and who per PFF had fewer than 400 dropbacks this season, here is a look at the starting quarterbacks who ranked among the best at spacing out their interceptions.
|Quarterback (Team)||Dropbacks per INT|
|Peyton Manning (Denver)||67.7|
|Drew Brees (New Orleans)||58.2|
|Tony Romo (Dallas)||57.8|
|Russell Wilson (Seattle)||55.7|
|Philip Rivers (San Diego)||53.6|
Pro Football Focus (subscription required)
We know about the Giants' league-leading 44 turnovers, which includes 29 interceptions (27 by Eli Manning and two by Curtis Painter) and 15 lost fumbles.
If you can stand it, let's look at how turnovers affected the red zone.
According to the ball possession and drive charts for each of the Giants’ 16 regular-season games (available via NFL.com), 15 of the Giants' turnovers occurred inside of the opponent’s territory—18 if we count the ball being turned over on downs or on a missed field-goal attempt.
Five of the turnovers came when the Giants were inside of the opponent’s red zone.
Now consider that the Giants converted 42.22 percent of their red-zone opportunities into touchdowns, which puts them 30th in the NFL per Team Rankings.
While points aren’t always a given when a team reaches the opponent’s territory, you have to at least assume that, had the Giants not gift-wrapped the ball for the other team, their 18.4 points-per-game average (28th in the NFL) might have been a lot higher.
Now let’s look at how the opponents fared when the Giants turned the ball over inside of their 20-yard line.
Overall, opponents scored 228 points off of Giants turnovers, a total that includes 26 touchdowns and 15 field goals. Of those scores, seven opponents’ scoring drives began inside New York’s 20-yard line.
Yup, turnovers are very, very bad, man.