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Fumblin' Bumblin' Stumblin': Best and Worst Fumblers
By Keith Van Wagner
Special to gzl-football.com

My Cowboys have been in a bit of a free-fall, losing their last 5 games, as well as their starting HB, QB, and CB. A by-product of this has been Dallasí reliance on Chris Ivory as their feature back. You will be excused to not know much about Ivory, as his career hasnít been too noteworthy. He did rush for 1,000 yards as a rookie for the Saints, but then it took him the next four seasons, split between New Orleans and Dallas, to reach his second 1,000 yards rushing. He has done well enough after being pressed into service, averaging about 80 yards a game and he will likely will end up with another 1,000 yard season. But thereís been one big problem: Fumbles.

Ivory has fumbled in 6 of his last 7 games. Now, Iím no Tom Coughlin when it comes to fumbles, but thatís A LOT (it works out to 1 fumble every 30.5 attempts). So it got me thinking about fumbles and who has the most and who fumbles with the most frequency.

So it turns out that this season, Ivoryís 6 fumbles arenít the worst, surprisingly. Detroitís Lamar Miller has NINE fumbles so far this year. Wow. Not very good ball security, but at least heís been relatively productive otherwise. After over 3,000 yards rushing in his first 2 seasons, Miller has 951 yards so far this season and has scored 6 TDs. So thatís goodÖbut putting the ball on the carpet every 26.4 attempts (9 fumbles in 238 attempts) is the kind of thing that gets you riding the pine in the NFL. As bad as Millerís fumble record has been, he has to yield to Bengal rookie Andre Vargas. Vargas has a meager 543 yards rushing on the season and an anemic 3.3 ypc average. But heís most hurting his team in his fumbles. Heís turned the ball over 7 times in 167 attempts. Thatís once every 23.9 attempts! Thatís very bad!

I took a look at some GZL historical data to get a sense of who is the worst fumbler in league history. In terms of volume, that distinction goes to Atlanta HB Mario Fannin, with 22. Heís managed 4 or 5 fumbles every season, so heís the model of consistency. But heís also had over 1,200 rushing attempts, so heís fumbled every 55.4 attempts, which is bad Ė but not the worst.

Interestingly, the second most fumbles in league history are from QB Michael Vick, who has 20 in his career. Quarterback fumbles are their own interesting story as they canít be examined in the same way as a running back because many fumbles arenít as the result of a rushing attempt. For example, Vick is listed with 243 rushing attempts, and 20 fumbles, which calculates to a fumble every 12.2 attempts. But as we all know, that doesnít give an accurate idea of how those fumbles are coming. As a side note, when looking at the ratio of fumbles and rushing attempts, the worst is Detroitís Matthew Stafford Ė 74 attempts and 13 fumbles, or a fumble every 5.7 attempts. But again, fumbles by QBs arenít the same, but it is interesting.

So who is the worst, historically? It turns out itís Toby Gerhart of the Vikings! Gerhart has 11 career fumbles, tied for 35th most overall. But heís done his damage in only 348 attempts, for a rate of 1 fumble for every 31.6 attempts. Below are the 10 worst fumblers, per attempt. They are based on the top 50 fumblers in league history.

1. Toby Gerhart, Vikings (1 fumble every 31.6 attempts)
2. Steve Slaton, 49ers (33.9)
3. Lamar Miller, Lions (43.8)
4. Pierre Thomas, FA (46.4)
5. Chris Ivory, Cowboys (49.7)
6. Michael Bush, FA (54.0)
7. Mario Fannin, Falcons (55.4)
8. Anthony Dixon, Ravens (58.9)
9. CJ Spiller, Chiefs (59.8)
10. DeAngelo Williams, FA (61.7)

OK, writing this article couldnít make me stop just there. It got me thinking Ė who are the BEST at ball security? So I looked at the top 50 HBs in terms of attempts and figured the rate at which they fumbled. Ironically, Felix Jones, the man Chris Ivory replaced is surprisingly amongst the best. Here are the Top 10:

1. LeSean McCoy, Panthers (1 fumble every 316.4 attempts)
2. Marshawn Lynch, FA (231.2)
3. Felix Jones, Cowboys (161.0)
4. Mark Ingram, Raiders (160.7)
5. Knowshon Moreno, Titans (135.2)
6. Darren McFadden, Bills (126.6)
7. Marion Barber, Colts (126.2)
8. Trent Richardson, 49ers (125.4)
9. Stafon Johnson, Browns (121.6)
10. Ronnie Brown, Chiefs (120.8)
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