Want an indicator on why the Vikings have lost more games than they have won? It's quite simple, really.
Turnovers. They give more than they receive.
The Vikings are by far the worst team in the National Football League in plus/minus turnover ratio. They have committed 20 turnovers, while taking away just six, for a league-worst minus-14. The next closest team in the NFC was Washington with a minus-8. Not surprisingly, the team sharing the turnover cellar with the Vikings is the hapless Cincinnati Bengals, although they are four better than Minnesota with a minus-10.
"Until we stop turning the ball over we won't beat anybody," head coach Mike Tice said.
The Vikings have been a minus-3 in three games this season. They have been a minus-4 once. So far this season, teams that have committed minus-3 turnovers in a game have won just twice. "We've got to eliminate turnovers," Tice said.
But how do you do it?
Should a team spend an entire practice firing footballs into piles of players having everyone clutch and grab until someone claims possession of the pigskin, just so they learn how to hold onto the ball? Of course not.
But a team realizing it needs to eliminate turnovers is one thing. Actually doing it during games is the mountain the Vikings haven't quite figured out how to climb.
"In crucial situations, we haven't been creating turnovers," said Lance Johnstone, admitting the defense needs to improve on its NFC-worst four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. "That would help our offense a little bit."
Tice said the mistakes aren't mental, that Daunte Culpepper throwing an interception in traffic or Michael Bennett coughing up the ball while trying to gain that extra yard is a result of a physical breakdown.
"They're physical mistakes," Tice said. "You're acting physically in fumbling the ball or throwing the ball into coverage. Daunte's trying hard to correct (the interceptions)."
The turnover dilemma isn't a riddle that can be solved in one practice, or one game.
"If we don't fix those problems we'll continue to suck and lose, and lose the team and have all the problems losing teams have," Tice said.
QB's job safe
A knee-jerk reaction in the NFL is to blame the quarterback. In Culpepper's case, he admittedly has been part of the reason the Vikings have struggled. But fans that have called for Culpepper to get benched in favor of backup Todd Bouman, shouldn't count on a change anytime soon.
"Daunte Culpepper is the future of this organization," Tice said. "Todd Bouman has a role in this organization, and that's as a back-up. We're not going to bench Daunte, we're going to fix it."
Answer: Fix The Turnovers
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