Consider the following charts...
All the talk in Miami has been about a rookie QB and whether he should be labeled "franchise." There is talk about the offensive line being well, offensive. There is talk about the talent level in Miami being inadequate. There is talk about Miami lacking breakaway speed. There is talk about the blue moon that will rise and coincide with the alignment of the planets and wipe out Joe Robbie Stadium on December 21st. There could be some truth to all of these assessments, but they are not the reason the Dolphins record is 5-8 and the team will once more watch the playoffs from their living rooms like mere mortals.
The team has lost 5 of the past 6 games. During that 6 game stretch, the Dolphins have forced 1 turnover. Miami forced 11 turnovers between Week 2 and Week 9, but the only turnover since was the Reshad Jones interception against New England in week 12. The 27th league ranking in turnover differential is pathetic and has more to do with Miami losing than Ryan Tannehill's rookie QB play.
This stat from the Palm Beach Post is amazing, the Dolphins have forced 17 fumbles this year, but recovered only three of them. Offensively, the Dolphins have fumbled 21 times and lost 11. That means overall, they have recovered only 14 of 38 fumbles (36.8 percent). Forget about Tannehill's 12 interceptions, the Dolphins have missed 24 opportunities to maintain possession or to gain an extra possession.
One look at the teams leading in turnover differential margin and it's easy to see how important this statistic is. The Colts are an anomaly, but when they get bounced from the playoffs, turnovers will be their downfall.
This has been an on-going issue in Miami for many seasons. The players on this defense never seem to be in the right place to make a play, whether it is dropping INTs or not recovering fumbles.
In his junior season prior to declaring for the NFL draft, Sean Smith had 5 INTs. In 4 seasons with the Dolphins, Smith has 3... Karlos Dansby has 15 forced fumbles, 9 recoveries and 11 INTs in his career, this year... O forced fumbles, O fumble recoveries, O INTs. These numbers are representative of the entire defense. It's not meant to be all on Smith or Dansby, this defense is incapable of forcing turnovers.
It is a major issue in Miami. If Ryan Tannehill had as many second chances as Tom Brady and NE's +24 differential the Dolphins could easily be heading to the playoffs instead of being home for the holidays.
Joe Philbin and Kevin Coyle are well aware of these numbers. It is well known at any level of football that takeaways equal victory and giveaways equal defeat. Before all the experts go off on the lack of speed or line play or even QB play, perhaps the problem in Miami is a little more basic.
Christmas is a nice time for gifts, but in the NFL, gifts will lead to losses and coaching jobs will soon follow. Even though turnover differential should land squarely on the players, it is often viewed as a coaching issue. Kevin Coyle won't last long as a defensive coordinator and Joe Philbin will follow him out the door.
If there was one single statistic that could have a significant impact on the win/loss record, turnover differential is the one. Fix it Joe!