The Cowboys defense may be rated number 1 in the league, and that's great. The unfortunate problem with that ranking is that, so far, our defense has not done what all defenses must do, generate turnovers. In three games, we have a grand total of 1 interception and 2 fumble recoveries. That's tied for second worst in the NFC. Carolina has 2, Detroit has 3. Every other NFC team has 4 or more. The Bears have 9 turnovers for their D.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys have turned the ball over 6 times. Tony has been picked off once in each game. And we have had 3 fumbles, two by Tony against the Bucs, and one by Felix Jones on the opening kickoff against Seattle. The Bears also have 6 turnovers -- all picks of Cutler.
So, while the giveaways are equal for each team, the takeaways are not even close. Bears are +3, the Cowboys are -3.
This is going to be the key to the ballgame. Whoever wins the turnover battle will win. If it's even at a low turnover level, I'd give the edge to the Cowboys, who are home.
At this point I would have to say I'm very disappointed in the lack of turnovers from Ryan's D. With Brandon Carr and Mo Claiborne, I feel like we have CBs who can man up and take the ball from the receivers they are covering. They just haven't done it so far. And they haven't even been close. Our only pick is by Sean Lee on a ball that the Tampa running back couldn't handle. Lee also generated one of our two fumble recoveries. But Lee needs some help.
Meanwhile, on the other side, the Bears are perennial turnover leaders. Their cover 2 scheme always seems to generate tipped passes and picks, and there may be no better team at punching balls out for fumbles. The Cowboys are not in the Bears' league in this department.
Last year, the weak Cowboys D actually generated 25 turnovers, which put them in the middle of the NFC, and gave us a plus 4 turnover ratio. But we were closer to the bottom than the top in numbers (bottom 16, top 38). This year, we aren't even on that pace.
You know the coaches understand the value of this. Jason Garrett talks the turnover game (and winning the 4th quarter). But, like the offensive line, it remains an unsolved problem for the Cowboys.
I think there's a chance we can pick Cutler off this week (or strip him) and keep this key stat even. But if our offensive line crumbles in the face of a fierce Bears' pass rush, I'd say the odds are against us.
This is really going to be up to Romo. He's just going to have to eat the ball if necessary and punt. He cannot afford to throw another early pick like he's done every week so far and fall behind, because then the Bears will just run the ball (to avoid Cutler picks) and tee off on Romo even more.
For the Cowboys D to be considered elite, we need to be averaging 2 turnovers per game. This would be a very good week to start.