Is Lovie Smith responsible for the 2021/2022 Texans ranking 8th in forced fumbles and 17th in fumble recoveries?
The 2021-2022 Houston Texans defense marginally improved as veteran defensive coordinator (DC) Lovie Smith took over the reins from rookie DC Anthony Weaver. Playing a simple, fast and “bend but don’t break” style of defense, Smith’s unit was heavily dependent on forcing turnovers to slow down offenses.
Forcing turnovers has an immense impact on the outcome of a game. A 2013 study concluded that teams with more interceptions than their opponent won the game 80% of the time and teams that forced and recovered more fumbles than their opponents won the game 70% of the time.
For a Texans unit that is still lacking in elite talent, they may continue to live or die by the amount of takeaways they generate. This is the second piece in a three-part series intending to discover what exactly Smith has done to improve the units’ takeaways and determine if they are sustainable going forward.
The first piece examined the Texans' 17 interceptions (8th most in NFL) and concluded that Smith’s schematics were responsible for just three interceptions all season. Evidence was also found pointing towards Houston not being able to sustain their impressive interceptions, unless the coaching staff adapts and gets out of their comfort zone (here's how they can do that).
The next category of takeaways to analyze are fumbles, which can be even more volatile and difficult to predict than interceptions - so I admit I won’t bat 1.000 on my findings. That being said, we know for certainty there are two phases to a fumble - forcing them and recovering them.