The strong play of the Browns defense early in the season is one piece of the turnover margin puzzle.
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BEREA, Ohio — Common sense would indicate that NFL teams that have a positive turnover ratio tend to come out in the winning column at a much higher percentage than teams that are on the negative side.
Is it really that simple?
Statistics show that when teams in the NFL have a positive turnover ratio, their probability of winning is significantly higher, according to ColdHardFootballFacts.com. Since 2008, teams with more takeaways than giveaways have a combined record of 810-220-2 (.786).
The Browns currently rank sixth in the NFL with a plus three ratio. Of the five teams ahead of them, four are 2-0 (Carolina +6; Cincinnati and Houston +5 and Buffalo +4). New England is +5 but have the same record as the Browns at 1-1.
Karlos Dansby intercepted Ben Roethlisberger for the only turnover in the opener against the Steelers and the Browns lost, 30-27 on a game-winning field goal by Shawn Suisham on the game’s final play.
In the 26-24 win over the Saints, Tashaun Gipson intercepted Drew Brees and returned it for a touchdown, while Marlon Moore recovered a fumble by Khiry Robinson on a kickoff return on the final play of the game.
The Browns have yet to turn the ball over through two games and that has caught the attention of Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh. He says this isn’t the same old Browns.
"There’s no comparing (the Browns) to the past," Harbaugh said. "It doesn’t matter. You know that. Really, the question is what we’re facing now this week. And [the Browns] are playing mistake-free football.
"So, to that point [and] to me, that’s why they’re 1-1," he said. "It could easily be 2-0. They have not turned the ball over. They have played solid defense, having [not] given up really any big plays or too many big plays since the first half of the first game. And that’s why they’re playing so well."
There are currently seven teams in the NFL that have started 2-0 and six of them have a positive turnover ratio. The Eagles are the only team that has won both games despite being minus two in the turnover category.
Former NFL head coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci breaks it down this way.
"It’s all about the number of possessions," Mariucci said. "It’s about possession time, clock time and the number of chances to score points. If you give the ball away three times a game, that’s three opportunities out of 12 or 13 that you don’t have a chance to score.
"Plus, you’re providing the other team with a short field. It’s quite evident that if you lose the turnover battle, then you lose a very high percentage of those games."
From 2008-12 teams with a plus one ratio had a record of 323-149-1 (.684); with a plus two record it was 243-54 (.818); plus three or more 244-17-1 (.934).
In 2013, teams with a positive turnover ratio had a winning percentage of .809.
If the Browns can continue to protect the ball on offense besides playing good defense, they should be able to have a good season.
Nothing Official on Gordon: Pettine said he has not been informed the final ruling of suspended WR Josh Gordon. Earlier on Wednesday, news broke that the NFL had agreed on a new drug policy with the NFLPA. It is expected that Gordon’s suspension will be for 10 games, meaning he will sit out eight more games. If that is the final ruling, Gordon would be able to in the Nov. 23 in Atlanta with the Falcons.
"It’s probably news for upper management," Pettine said before practice. "It’s hard to react until we get a definitive (ruling)."
Pettine said he and Ray Farmer would meet with Gordon once he’s in the building and lay out a plan for him. Pettine said he thinks having Gordon back in the building is one of the real positives of the new ruling.
"I think that’s true of every player," he said. "To be able to eat here, lift here and have that structure around him at the facility and with (Director of Player Engagement) Jamil Northcutt. That would be helpful for him, or any player."
Hoyer Success: QB Brian Hoyer is tied for second in the AFC in the fourth quarter passing statistic. He is tied with Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco with a 95.8 rating in the fourth quarter. Hoyer is 17-of-25 for 142 yards in the final period, with a completion percentage of 68 percent.
Ironically, AFC North rival QB Andy Dalton leads in that department with a 149.3 rating.
Overall, Hoyer is 6th in the AFC with a rating of 87.4, while Flacco is 8th with a 83.2 rating.
Harbaugh said he has been impressed with Hoyer’s play.
"Probably, the most important thing in this league is to have a good quarterback. "(Hoyer’s) playing winning football," Harbaugh said in a conference call Wednesday. "I’m sure he’s been a confident guy and he’s done nothing but win. That last drive against the Saints, was impressive."
Run West: Rookie RB Terrance West is currently tied for second in the AFC in rushing with 168 yards, tied with the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell. RB Arian Foster leads the AFC with 241 yards.
Overall, West is tied for 4th in the NFL with Bell behind RB Demarco Murray, Foster and RB Alfred Morris.
Trio Limited: RB Ben Tate (knee), LB Barkevious Mingo (shoulder) and TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder) were limited at practice.
Pettine said Wednesday that he was the least optimistic about Tate playing this week. With a bye after this week, it is possible the Browns will hold all three players out this week.
"I don’t see Tate going this week," Pettine said.
During the portion of practice that was open to the media, Tate was on the stationary bike, while Mingo and Cameron were doing the individual drills with their position coaches.
"It felt great to get back out there with my teammates," Cameron said after practice.
He was asked if he had thought he would play this week.
"I have no hunches."
Cameron said he was excited to see the Browns drive the field for the win, especially fellow TE Gary Barnidge making a huge fourth down catch for a first down.
"I was so happy for the team," he said. "Gary made a great play and I was happy for him."
Ode to Wilbert: Pettine said when he first started working with the Ravens, current Browns RB coach Wilbert Montgomery was the RB coach with the Ravens. Pettine admitted he was a bit star-struck when he first met Montgomery because he grew up an Eagles fan and Montgomery was a star running back for them.
Pettine said he had two posters on the wall–that of Montgomery and Farrah Fawcett.
Suggs on Pettine: Pettine was Ravens LB Terrell Suggs position coach when Pettine was in Baltimore and he is very appreciative of the coaching he received from Pettine.
"We called him ‘Old school,’" Suggs said on a conference call. "I have nothing but love for him and wish him all the success in the world– but just not this week."
If Gordon is able to play the final six games, the 2014 season would count as a full year toward free agency and his contract would run through the 2015 season. If he plays less than six games, his contract would run through 2016.
Worth Quoting: "The only thing the win over the Saints did for us is prevent us from being 0-16."–Pettine on last week’s win over the Saints.