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The Harbaughs love their turnovers and stories about olives

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- John Harbaugh told the Baltimore Ravens this week that getting turnovers is like opening a new jar of olives.

"You open it up, turn it over and you can't get one olive to come out. People know that," he said. "They're packed in there so tight, you can't get one to come out. But if you can just get one to come out, the rest come plopping out."

Good analogy, right? Well, Jim Harbaugh thinks so as well. In fact, he told the same story to his University of Michigan players in September, according to MLive.com.

But don't accuse John of stealing from Jim. The story comes from their father, Jack, a longtime college coach who told it to his players when things were going to break open.

"It's kind of interesting," Jack Harbaugh said. "You'll tell stories when they're young but they don't say anything and you don't think they remember. Down the road they use it, and I'm impressed. Not impressed that they used that particular story but that they were listening. If I knew they were listening, I would have shared more stories."

After Jim's olive jar speech, the Wolverines forced six turnovers in their next six games. The Ravens are hoping for a bigger change in fortune. Baltimore is mired in a five-game turnover drought.

Here's a look at how much time has passed since the Ravens' last turnover:

  • 20 quarters and two overtime periods

  • 62 drives by the opposition

  • 332 snaps by the opposition

  • 324 minutes, 58 seconds

The Ravens have taken the ball away four times in eight games, which puts them on pace for the fewest forced turnovers in NFL history. The players and coaches believe the lack of turnovers is a major reason they're 2-6, especially because the six defeats have been decided by a total of 30 points.

"If we’re getting turnovers, our record is dramatically different," John Harbaugh said. "Those games could have turned on one turnover. Our defense has a history of getting turnovers. It’s how we expect to play defense, and we’re emphasizing it. We’re trying to create schemes to create those opportunities, and we’re trying to create the level of energy that you need to find the football."

Since leading the NFL with 34 forced turnovers in 2008, the Ravens have seen their numbers decrease every season. This year, the last takeaway came on Sept. 27, when Elvis Dumervil stripped quarterback Andy Dalton and C.J. Mosley picked it up for a 41-yard return for a touchdown.

So how can the Ravens open that new jar of olives? This time, John Harbaugh borrowed from his brother-in-law, Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean.

"He said, ‘The ball finds energy in basketball,'" John Harbaugh said. "If you’re the pick setter and rolling off of the pick, you’re going to get the ball if you’re moving. If you’re the first guy down the floor on a fast break, you’re going to get the ball. Isn’t that true for football as well? The ball finds energy."