Vikings seeking to win the turnover advantage

Turnovers are an important part of the game that the Vikings have been losing in a majority of the games this season. Players and coaches weigh in on what they think needs to be done in order to win the turnover battle.

Turnovers can be a big momentum swing during a football game, and often the team that has the better turnover margin during the course of a game will often be the victors.

The Minnesota Vikings, so far, have not been on the right side of the turnover battle, totaling a minus-five margin for turnovers on the year. That ranks tied for 26th in the league, and leaves only four teams who have a worse turnover margin than them.

On the season, the Vikings have thrown nine interceptions and lost a fumble on offense. On defense, they have had five interceptions and have yet to record a fumble recovery.

“We got to make plays, man. Got to make turnovers in this league” said Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. “That’s how you win football games. When the defense can get the ball back to the offense, usually good things happen.”

Turnovers are not the only way for defenses to make big plays, though. They can also get sacks – the Vikings have 14 on the season – and they can break up passes, which the Vikings have done 22 times.

These types of plays, though still important, usually do not help a team out as much as creating a turnover.

“We just have to create turnovers, take the extra step,” Munnerlyn said. “Not just knocking the ball down, you know? Everybody wants to get the pass breakup, but what about interceptions? What about getting the offense back the ball with great field position? So we are definitely going to work on that this week and hopefully it carries into the game.”

The problem with trying to focus more on creating turnovers is that you can leave teams susceptible to a big play. If a defender tries to jump a route and misses the ball, the receiver might not have anyone around to stop him. If a player tries to create a fumble by stripping the ball and the runner gets away, there might not be someone right by them to make the play.

“We feel like with everybody running to the ball, playing physical, tough defense, that we’ll get the ball out,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “That’s one thing we’re preaching is the first person secures the tackle then the next guy comes in. We’ve had a couple situations during the course of the year where guys have tried to tackle the ball as opposed to tackling a person. We miss the tackle and it ends up being a big play.”

Safety Harrison Smith, however, doesn’t believe it’s always a risky proposition to go for the turnover.

“I don’t think turnovers are about taking chances,” he said. “I think you do your job and get (the opposing team) into situations where they need to throw the ball, or you get a rush on them and create turnovers that way, or team tackling.”

“Maybe pop a ball out that wouldn’t have come out if the last guy didn’t get into the pile. It’s not going outside your job, not doing anything crazy, just doing your job, playing hard, and running to the ball.”

After two weeks in a row losing the turnover battle and having their only two wins come when they won the turnover battles, the Vikings need to get their turnover margin positive again.

“I’ve talked a lot about winning and losing and what causes you to win and what good teams do and what bad teams do,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “The two games we’ve won we’ve had no turnovers and (one) sack. The (four) games we’ve lost we’ve had 10 turnovers and (21) sacks. It kind of tells you where it’s at right there.”

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