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The Winning Formula

If the Cowboys can cut down the turnovers, they might have a shot at a winning streak

Charlie Peprah
What the Cowboys really need to do to contend for a playoff berth is protect the football, especially in games following a victory. Courtesy of Dallas Cowboys

Four times this season, the Dallas Cowboys have given their fans hope. Three times, the Cowboys have followed up hope with a thud. Part of the reason the Cowboys sit at 4-5 after nine games is their inability to piece together a winning streak. 

The last time Dallas won two or more games in a row was last season, when the Cowboys won four games in a row in November. The Cowboys are 5-9 since then as they enter Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.

It’s consistency that head coach Jason Garrett preaches, and consistency that his Cowboys have yet to find this season. Consistency starts with minimizing the danger of turnovers.

 The Cowboys are a dismal minus-12 in turnover ratio in their nine losses. The Cowboys have 17 turnovers; their opponents have just five.

“Every time you snap the ball, [reducing] turnovers and takeaways are something you never have down pat,” Garrett said during a recent press conference. “Any time you don’t turn the ball over it’s a good thing. It’s going to give you a chance to win.”

The Cowboys’ inability to string together victories of late can be traced to turnovers. During this span of 14 games, the Cowboys are a dismal minus-12 in turnover ratio in their nine losses. The Cowboys have 17 turnovers; their opponents have just five.

That ratio is just as bad if you consider the three games that followed Dallas’ first three victories this season. That turnover ratio is minus-10, with the Cowboys committing 13 turnovers and their opponents committing three.

Granted, 11 of those turnovers came in two games this season — five against Chicago and six against the New York Giants. Even discounting the aforementioned contests, the Cowboys are still a minus-4 in turnover ratio in seven other losses in the last 14 games.

In the five games the Cowboys have won during that span, they have a plus-2 turnover ratio. The Cowboys committed six turnovers, and their opponents committed eight.

Certainly there are other factors related to how the Cowboys win or lose those games. But when you compare these numbers to the Cowboys’ turnover numbers during their four-game winning streak last year, it’s clear there’s a correlation.

During that four-game winning streak the Cowboys were a plus-7 in turnover ratio. The Cowboys committed three turnovers, and their opponents committed 10.

If the Cowboys are going to start a winning streak and contend for a playoff spot, it’s clear where they have to start.

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