Heading into Week 11, the Rams are leading the NFL with 19 takeaways.
Head coach Sean McVay often says that besides points, the turnover margin is the biggest indicator of wins and losses in the NFL. And that's a message that's clearly coming from more than just him.
"Obviously points are the most important, but turnovers are the second-most important thing as far as winning ball games," defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. "You have to keep them from scoring first, but also you need to turn the ball over and our guys have done a good job of that all year."
That message is getting through to the team.
"It's a direct correlation to wins and losses," middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said. "For a lot of teams and for us, if we're leading [in takeaways] we've really been undefeated."
It's true — the Rams are 7-0 when ahead or tied in the turnover margin this season. And the club's most recent loss — the 16-10 Oct. 8 matchup with the Seahawks — came in large part because L.A. committed five giveaways.
But the Rams have played clean in recent weeks, and that's what has allowed the club to build a plus-seven turnover margin. Los Angeles has 12 interceptions and seven fumbles recovered, with four fumbles recovered and three interceptions over the last two games.
"We've had an interception in every game except for one," Phillips said. "I commend our guys. They're really doing a good job."
"It's definitely something you look at and you try to do," Ogletree said of forcing turnovers. "With an offense like ours, try to get the ball back as much as possible."
"We put an emphasis on it every week, to create turnovers and score if we can [or] create turnovers for our offense to get them good field position to score," said cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who has a pair of interceptions, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in 2017. "But I believe we're leading the NFL right now and that's big. It's really big. We haven't led the NFL since I have been with the Rams."
As Phillips put it on Thursday, creating takeaways doesn't just happen. Some of it is luck from the way the ball bounces, of course. But there are ways to put offenses in bad situations. An that's what the Rams try to do.
"You work on certain things that help cause turnovers," Phillips said. "Pressure certainly helps on interceptions and so forth, and being in the right place, guys being able to cover well, or double cover, or knowing what to do. There's a lot of cases that they think somebody's open, but somebody else is helping and you get an interception. I think we have as many batted balls as anybody in the league, too."
And then there's technique. Ogletree said the Rams practice some kind of takeaway drill at the start of each practice.
"It's something you do every day," Ogletree said. "[D]o some type of takeaway drill, or turnover drill, ball security — stuff like that. So it's something we do daily."
Through the first half of the season, that work is clearly paying off.