Why the Eagles’ Nick Siriani thinks the turnover gap is sustainable

There are many reasons why the Eagles have an 8-0 record to start their season, but none has been more important than the turnover margin.

Through eight games, the Eagles lead the NFL in turnovers with 18 and the league in turnovers by just three. They have the best turnover margin in the NFL (by a wide margin) at +15.

Is this sustainable? Head coach Nick Siriani thinks so.

“I think sometimes there’s a tendency for people to think, ‘Oh, they’re lucky in the turnover category.’ To me, luck has nothing to do with it,” Siriani said.

“We talk about it more than anyone else. We live it. We preach it. We repeat it. There are grounds for this. Our coaches are everywhere. Our players are everywhere. It is constantly on our mind. Nobody thinks about turning the ball over or protecting the football more than us.”

The gap between the Eagles’ turnover margin and the rest of the league is shocking, and it’s one of the reasons many believe it may not be sustainable, at least not at this rate. The difference between the Eagles and No. 2 in the league in turnover margin is the same as the difference between No. 2 and No. 22 on the roster.

Eagles: +15
Cowboys: +6
Vikings: +6
Ravens: +6
Four teams: +3

Defensively, the Eagles’ 18 home runs are the most they’ve had through the first eight games of a season since 2015, and it’s just the fourth time they’ve had that many in the last 20 years.

The Eagles lead the NFL with 12 interceptions, led by CJ Gardner-Johnson (5), Darius Slay (3) and James Bradberry (3).

“I think our front seven is playing really well and it’s just luck to some extent,” Bradbury said. “We had some turnovers, some tipped balls. You should definitely catch them because they are penalty kicks. We play situational football and just perform at a high level.”

Of course, the whole unit works together to get those turnovers. Rushing to the pass forces quarterbacks to make bad or early throws, and the back end does its job of picking off passes. Or the secondary holds coverage long enough for the front to get to the quarterback and take the ball away. Haason Reddick leads the team with three forced fumbles. It helps that the Eagles played some inexperienced quarterbacks, but they’re playing with whoever is on their schedule.

Siriani pointed out that the Eagles simply have a lot of playmakers on that side of the ball.

“We’ve got a great group here,” Reddick said. “When you look at it, our back 7, they find a way to get to the ball. Our D-line, we cause a lot of pressure and force the QB to make some throws that they shouldn’t even make. But every time they do, it’s a tip, it’s a guy in the QB’s face. You have a guy like Chauncey, Slay, Bradbury, they kind of always find a way to be on the ball. It’s magical, man. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

On offense, Jalen Hurts threw just two interceptions. He had a pass to Kenny Gainwell in the fourth quarter against the Vikings, but Siriani later took the blame for it, saying there shouldn’t have been a fumble in the game plan. And the ball did bounce off Gainwell’s hands. So it really wasn’t Hurts.

The other INT was by Hurts. Hurts’ worst throw of the season came early in the Jaguars game when he threw a pick-six to Andre Cisco.

But it’s very impressive that Hurts has thrown just two picks in 239 attempts this season. Among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts, Hurts has the second-lowest interception percentage in the NFL (0.8), behind only Tom Brady, who has thrown 1 interception in 398 attempts. On Thursday night, Hurts finally lost the Eagles’ first shutout of the season, bringing his total to three shutouts this year.

So not only is Hearts defending football in 2022, but his teammates haven’t given up on any mistakes.

Sometimes these things go unnoticed, but not by Siriani. He gave the Texans credit for grabbing the ball Thursday night, but was impressed with the way his team held up.

“A couple of times in this game when their guys had really good takedowns, outstanding defensive takedowns that would be on our defense, the highlights of that is a great takedown, keep going after it because it’s going to come out,” said Syrians. “And our guys defend the crap. It was Kees Watkins at his game, they really tried to come after that ball on him. Jack Stoll for his play. Dallas Goedert had a couple where he really protected that ball in a bit of motion. Then Miles Sanders and Kenny (Ganewell) and Boston (Scott), all of them. Miles continues to impress. There was one play that went into the red zone where the guy, I think No. 2, got a hold of it and really raked it in pretty good, and Miles kept the football.”

Siriani said the Eagles’ goal is to be +2 in turnover margin after each game. They want to take the ball away at least twice and they don’t want to cough it up at all. They are +2 or more in half of their games this season:

Week 1: 38-35 win at Detroit (+1)
Week 2: 27-7 win vs. Vikings (+2)
Week 3: 24-8 Commanders win (+1)
Week 4: 29-21 win vs. Jaguars (+4)
Week 5: 20-17 Cardinals win (+1)
Week 6: 26-17 win vs. Cowboys (+3)
Week 8: 35-13 win vs. Steelers (+2)
Week 9: 29-17 win over Texans (+1)

The Eagles are just one of five teams in the last 20 years to have a turnover margin of at least +15 through eight games. The worst record among those five teams was 6-2. Three of the four prior to this season made the playoffs, but all three were swept in their first postseason game.

Sometimes the turnover margin can mask other problems the team has and is hard to rely on. But if Siriani is right and it’s sustainable, the Eagles could go a long way.

“I think it’s sustainable because it’s part of our culture and what we live and preach every day,” Siriani said. “Again, the coaches do a good job of teaching the fundamentals of how to take the ball away, how to finish with the ball, and our offensive coaches do a great job of teaching the fundamentals of how to protect the football.”

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