Turnovers trend must change for Texans, Colts

"This year it's not bouncing as often our way," Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said. AP Photo/John Bazemore

HOUSTON -- Thursday night's game will be a battle of the two worst teams in the league when it comes to turnover margin.

For the Houston Texans, that's a big surprise.

Opportunistic last season, the Texans led the league in takeaways with 34, and their plus-12 margin ranked second in the league, tied with New England. The defense helped make up for an offense that turned the ball over 22 times.

That's not happening this year.

"This year it’s not bouncing as often our way," defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said. "We’ve gotten our hands on a couple balls, but last year when we got our hands on the ball it resulted in turnovers for us. This year, we get our hands on the ball and we drop it, the offense comes back and they get to line up a play again. You can talk about it, you can kind of do some drills, catching drills, drills to try to get the ball out when the opportunity comes. A lot of it has to do with being able to make the catch when the ball comes and hits you in the hands."

The Texans' turnover margin is minus-6 right now. While a more opportunistic defense might help, that's only necessary to mask an offense that turns the ball over at a high rate. Only three teams have turned the ball over more than the Texans' eight -- one of those is their opponent Thursday night, the Indianapolis Colts, which has committed a league-high 12 turnovers this season.

Last weekend against the Falcons, Houston committed four turnovers -- Arian Foster, C.J. Fiedorowicz and Cecil Shorts fumbled and Ryan Mallett threw an interception. Foster's and Shorts' fumbles were returned for touchdowns. The Falcons also scored on the drive that followed Mallett's interception.

In a short week -- the Texans practice only on Monday and Tuesday -- it's difficult to change much in the routine in an effort to improve ball security. They acknowledge what a critical statistic that can be, though.

"That’s a big, big stat," coach Bill O'Brien said. "It was a big stat for us last year. I think we were plus-12 in that category last year, thereabouts. I think it’s up there with third down, red-area percentage, things like that, touchdown percentage in the red area, but I think turnovers and takeaway, that ratio is a big stat."