In every football game ever played, at every level, there is one common denominator for victory.
Every TV commentator says it. Radio, print and online folks, too.
- Whoever wins the turnover battle will win the game.
You’ve probably heard that a thousand times or so, right?
Well, your 6-0 Eagles — in addition to having the NFL’s best record — are the runaway leader in turnover differential. Turnovers kill. You can look it up.
The Eagles have an astounding plus-12 turnover differential, with nine interceptions and five recovered fumbles. Jalen Hurts has thrown two interceptions.
The runner-up in turnover differential? The Cowboys with plus-six, in seven games. In last place? The Saints, the Eagles’ 2023 draft partners, with minus-10.
What gives? Why are the Eagles so good at this — or so lucky? In 348 plays from scrimmage — 123 receptions, 225 rushes — the Eagles have fumbled three times. They recovered all three. For perspective, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence lost four fumbles against the Eagles.
- “It’s truly a full team effort,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said about the lack of turnovers. “It’s the emphasis of the fundamentals of ball security that we preach on a daily basis.
- “If you’re carrying a ball around our facility, we don’t care who you are, we’ll tell you that it wasn’t good enough.”
SANDERS SETTING THE STANDARD
Running back Miles Sanders came into the season carrying two stigmas — injury prone and fumbling.
Sanders has stayed healthy. He has played 273 of the offensive snaps (61.2 percent).
He has kept the ball off the turf. The league’s seventh-leading rusher (in one fewer game) has 105 carries, 11 catches and zero fumbles.
- “Ultimately, the player has to go out and do it and the guys that have touched the ball the most for us, Miles Sanders has been phenomenal with this so far this season,” Sirianni said.
- “Miles has had great fundamentals. Those guys are stripping at it hard … Him and Jalen [Hurts] touch the ball the most, carry the ball the most and Miles has just done an outstanding job.
- “When your guys that are touching the ball the most are most fundamentally sound and taking care of it the best, then everybody else is going to fall into line.”
DRILLS PAYING OFF
Ball-security drills are part of the Eagles’ practice routine. When players have the ball, coaches and others are swatting and poking at the ball, trying to dislodge it.
- “Jemal Singleton [running backs/assistant head coach] does a great job teaching the ball security to our entire group,” Sirianni said.
- “He’s on all our guys about that as well. [Offensive coordinator] Shane [Steichen] is on those guys about that. I know you see Shane with the boxing glove … trying to knock it out.”
RECEIVERS AREN’T FUMBLING, EITHER
Eagles receivers also are keeping a tight latch on the ball.
- “I think about Dallas [Goedert] and A.J. [Brown] and DeVonta [Smith],” Sirianni said. “They touch the ball a lot.
- “We told them today, they’re going to start seeing they [defenses] can’t get it off Miles, they’re going to be coming after you.
- “Make no mistake about it, it’s those players making unbelievable plays with the ball in their hands with supreme ball security.
- “And then A.J. gets the ball in his hands and guys are really concerned about getting him down because he’s hard to tackle.
- “They can’t strip him because they got to go try to tackle him, and that’s a little bit of Dallas too, and really that’s a little bit of DeVonta, too, because DeVonta he’s got so much wiggle with the ball in his hands.”
Hurts has two interceptions. The second one against the Cardinals is on him. The ball was delivered late, was deflected and returned for a pick-six.
The first was a short pass into a well-guarded area against Jacksonville.
“Jalen has two picks by stats, but if the coaches could get a pick, I would get the pick for the one that went off Kenny [Gainwell]’s hands,” Sirianni said.
“That’s on me. I didn’t feel great about that play quite yet and the timing of that play, and I put the ball at risk on that one.”
DEFENSE DOING IT
The Eagles’ nine interceptions are second in the league, one behind Buffalo. All turnovers are welcomed, but interceptions are coveted because they often happen in an open area and can lead to big plays the other way. Fumbles often come with no extra return yardage.
- “I thought that the rush helped affect the quarterback and that led to some of the interceptions … they were big-time plays by some really good players that we have,” defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said.
- “I think that really was the stat that led to the win if you want to look at stats within the [Dallas] game.”
The Eagles have five fumble recoveries. Linebacker/edge Haason Reddick has three himself.
“Where do a lot of fumbles come from?” Sirianni said. “A lot of fumbles come from strip-sack fumbles.”
Should the Eagles maintain their superiority in turnover differential, expect victories to continue.