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Eagles' takeaway drought is of historic proportions

reuben frank csnphilly

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 03:50 PM

Frank

Eagles' takeaway drought is of historic proportions

December 13, 2012, 3:22 pm

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The losing streak is over. The takeaway streak remains.

The Eagles have now gone an astounding five straight games without forcing a turnover and an equally astounding seven straight games without an interception.

Both are franchise records, and second place isn’t even close.

“Getting turnovers makes it a lot easier to win,” linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. “You look at defensive football, you look at getting three turnovers per game, your percentage of winning goes up very high. That’s always the goal. You get three, you’re going to win that game.”

The Eagles’ last interception was Nnamdi Asomugha’s pick of Matt Stafford in the second quarter of the Detroit game. That was Oct. 14, and that was nearly two months ago. And Juan Castillo was still the Eagles’ defensive coordinator.

The last time they forced an opposing fumble and recovered it was the third quarter of the Saints game, when they forced two -- one by Brandon Graham on defense, one by Chris Polk on special teams. That was Nov. 5, and that was nearly nearly a month and a half ago.

With three games left, the Eagles are on pace for just 12 takeaways, which would tie the NFL record for fewest in a season, a mark set in 2006 by the Redskins.

“It’s tough,” Ryans said. “The great defenses get a lot of turnovers, and it’s difficult not being able to get those.”

The Eagles had four interceptions in the season opener in Cleveland, then forced two turnovers – one interception, one fumble – in Week 2 against the Ravens. Both wins.

In the 11 games since, they have just four takeaways.

In NFL history, no team has forced fewer than 11 turnovers following Week 3. So the Eagles need to get seven takeaways in the next three games just to avoid breaking that record for turnover ineptitude.

In seven games since Todd Bowles replaced Castillo as defensive coordinator, the Eagles have no interceptions and two takeaways – both in the Saints game.

The Eagles ended their eight-game losing streak in Tampa Sunday, and the defense played better, allowing 21 points – seven of which came after an Eagles turnover deep in their own territory.

But for the fifth straight game, no turnovers.

“We were able to compete and get our hands on the ball, and that’s a step closer than we’ve been, a lot closer than we’ve been,” Ryans said. “Hopefully, we can progress from there, just being in position, being able to bat some balls down and come close.

“Hopefully, we can step in there and pick one off or when we get a sack, we can strip the quarterback. Hopefully, we can progress from what we did Sunday.”

More records for futility:

The Eagles have precisely zero takeaways in eight of 13 games so far this year. That’s the second-most single games in a season in NFL history with no turnovers. The NFL record for games in a season with no takeaways is nine, set by the 2002 Bills.

Overall, the Eagles are minus-19 in turnover ratio – only the Chiefs are worse, at minus-22, and only the 1968 Eagles have been worse in franchise history, also at minus-22.

Since Week 3, the Eagles are a league-worst minus-16, with 20 turnovers and four takeaways.

At their current pace, the Eagles will commit 35 turnovers and finish the season with 12 takeaways. Only three teams in NFL history – the 1968 Bills (35, 15), the 1993 Browns (36, 15) and the 2005 Saints (35, 14) – have committed 35 or more turnovers and forced 15 or fewer.

All of this goes a long way toward explaining why the Eagles take a 4-9 record into their Thursday night game at the Linc against the Bengals.

Since 2000, when the Eagles force more turnovers than they commit, they’re 63-10. When they lose the turnover battle, they’re 72-61. When it’s even, they’re 25-18.

Since 2000, the Eagles are 11-29 (.275) when they don’t force any turnovers, 31-28-1 (.525) when they force one, 32-15 (.681) when they force two and 51-7 (.879) when they force three or more.

“Hopefully, we can finish strong,” Ryans said. “Hopefully, the ball bounces our way Thursday night.”

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com