Cowboys Once Again Struggle to Get Turnovers

We seem to have this conversation with coach Jason Garrett rather frequently: Why can’t your defense force any turnovers?

We had it again Monday afternoon at The Star because the Cowboys have now gone 155 plays without forcing a turnover.

They haven’t intercepted a pass in 95 pass attempts.

Rookie Jourdan Lewis intercepted an errant pass on the final play of the third quarter against Denver.

It’s the last time the Cowboys took the ball away.

Just so you know, teams that get 2 turnovers are 15-11 this season and teams that take it away three times are 19-1.

Don’t get a turnover and it’s hard to win. The Cowboys are 1-1, when they don’t get a turnover. The rest of the NFL is 11-29.

Their inability to take the ball away played a direct role in their 35-30 loss to Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon.

Leading 24-16 at the start of the third quarter, the Cowboys missed an opportunity to seize control of the game.

DeMarcus Lawrence, quiet for much of the first half, zoomed around the edge and knocked the ball out of quarterback Jared Goff’s hands.

For an instant, the ball sat tantalizingly on the ground waiting for some member of the defense to pounce on it. Instead, guard Rob Haverstein fell on the ball at the Rams’ 10, averting disaster.

Get that fumble and the Cowboys have a chance to go up 15 points and make the Rams abandon their running game, especially since Todd Gurley didn’t do much damage in the first half.

With 6:44 left in the fourth quarter and the Cowboys trailing 32-30, Anthony Brown failed to make a play.

Goff made a poor decision and threw high into a zone coverage. Brown was in perfect position to intercept the pass, but mistimed his jump and the ball bounced off his hands.

The Rams burned another four minutes off the clock and wound up adding a 33-yard field goal that forced the Cowboys to score a touchdown to win.

“In yesterday’s game that might have been the single most important factor,” Garrett said. “Think about the two turnovers we had — the one on the punt return and the interception later in the game — and the fact we couldn’t cash in and take the ball way from them.

“It’s a point of emphasis every week. You have to take the ball away. One of the things we emphasize as much as anything else is to win the turnover battle.”

Perhaps, we shouldn’t be surprised at the Cowboys’ inability to create turnovers. They’ve only done it once since defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli took over the unit in 2014.

That year, the Cowboys finished second in the NFL in turnovers — three behind Houston.

Since then, Dallas has finished 32nd (19) and tied for 19th (20) in turnovers. They’re currently tied with five other teams for 23rd in the NFL with three.

Baltimore and Detroit each have 11.

No logical explanation exists because Marinelli coaches a scheme based on speed, gang tackling and effort. In theory, that should lead to turnovers. They also spend a portion of individual drills working on various techniques to punch out the ball.

Turnovers, though, are usually the result of quarterbacks making mistakes under duress and throwing the ball into areas they shouldn’t. Or a team has playmakers.

Linebacker Sean Lee, who missed Sunday’s game with a hamstring strain, and Lawrence and, maybe, Maliek Collins, are the only players on the defense with a history of being playmakers.

There’s no questioning the emnphasis or comittment Garrett and his staff place on forcing turnovers.

Still, the result remains the same.

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