I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the Buffalo Bills have a turnover problem this season. Specifically, they’re making my preseason predictions look really bad. I predicted 27 takeaways and 23 giveaways. They’re currently on pace for 32 takeaways, which is the good kind of wrong at least. But the extrapolation of 34 giveaways this season is more wrong, and also the bad kind of wrong.
Wait, what? We should worry about giveaways because they’re correlated with wins and losses? Fine, I suppose the Bills giving the ball away more than 29 other teams (everyone but the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts) is a bigger deal than “Skare made a bad guess.”
Luckily, the Cleveland Browns are terrible at taking the ball away. Is this a get-right game for quarterback Josh Allen, who has been directly responsible for many of the Bills’ recent woes? Let’s check out film of some of the Browns’ takeaways to see Allen’s odds of avoiding costly turnovers.
Grant Delpit: Right place, right time
Some of these aren’t going to require a lot of explanation. Quarterback Baker Mayfield has room to step into his throw and an open target. The pass floats, and safety Grant Delpit is right there to grab it.
Flacco vs. Clowney is not an equal fight
Pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney comes off the edge and beats his man quickly. Quarterback Joe Flacco doesn’t have much of a chance here. As he cocks back to throw, Clowney is there to swat it out.
Mariota has no London connection
At the pause, we have the intended target and quarterback Marcus Mariota already committing to the throw. This is an excellent decision by Mariota, as his target, wide receiver Drake London, has a big step ahead of cornerback Denzel Ward. Did Mariota throw it behind where he should have, prompting London to slow down and Ward to cut in front? Or did London drift deeper rather than continue straight on to allow the undercut? A combo of both? That’s my guess. The result is the same: Ward puts himself in better position for the ball than London.
Myles Garrett doing Myles Garrett things
This looks a lot like the Jadeveon Clowney strip sack. Myles Garrett is a pretty good mirror of Clowney.
Garrett’s sizable gains earn him tips
Garrett again, but this time with a tip. The ball is deflected a second time and into the hands of cornerback A.J. Green.
Takitaki takes Burrow’s ball
This is more of a slow burner compared to the other two strip sacks, but linebacker Sione Takitaki also seems to have been coached to go for the ball whenever he nears the quarterback.
We’re halfway through the season, and this is all but two of the Browns’ total takeaways. The missing ones include fumbles by Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill, and a failed last-second attempt by the Pittsburgh Steelers to lateral down the field for a comeback win. So this is pretty much it. When the Browns take the ball away, it’s probably from the quarterback. There’s also no secret method to it; they swat at the ball, tips can break their way, and bad execution by their opponent can allow opportunities.
What does this mean for Allen and the Bills? They should avoid the pass rush, tipped balls, and execution errors. The Browns are 21st in the league with 20 sacks, which is average. But they’re second-worst in QB hits. They’re average with passes defended and a lot of other pass-rush metrics. In other words, they’re not particularly adept at creating strip sacks, tipped balls, or hurried quarterbacks, which are all usually associated with turnovers.
They’re also not terrible overall, so some of their low takeaway numbers may just be bad luck. This far into the season, it’s fairly safe to call it a trend, and that Allen might have his get-right game during the first of a two-game layover in Detroit. On the other hand, if the Bills aren’t careful, there’s some evidence to think it’ll be a get-right game for the Browns’ defense.