The turnover battle is arguably the NFL’s most important “game within a game.” Last season the league’s top five teams in turnover differential – which included both participants in Super Bowl LI, New England and Atlanta – went a combined 57-23.
Sean Lee is one who understands just how critical the turnover battle is. Speaking with Mickey Spagnola of DallasCowboys.com, Lee said forcing more turnovers has been of particular focus for the Cowboys in recent months.
“We’ve talked all offseason about causing more turnovers. I thought we took a step forward [in 2016] in a lot of ways; good against the run, really good in fourth quarters, making plays,” Lee says. “But we have to find a way to get to the top of the league in turnovers. With that type of offense we have, they can score a ton of points, we have to find a way to get the ball and give it back to them.”
Generating more turnovers is easier said than done, of course. But Lee believes turnovers will naturally come with hard work and an increasing familiarity with their defensive scheme.
“I think it’s understanding the defense better, I think it’s everybody raising their game, individually and as a group. Last year I thought we understood the defense really well. We played really fast, we played physical, and that led to more turnovers. Now, being in the defense a couple more years, we can take that next step.”
Dallas ranked 19th in takeaways last season, but managed to finish 9th in turnover differential thanks to an offense that was stingy with giveaways.