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Lunchbreak: Vikings Focused on Winning Turnover Battle in Final 4 Games

In the seven seasons Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has been in Minnesota, he has preached that he wants the Vikings to be a smart, physical and disciplined team.

Especially when it comes to the turnover margin.

Mark Craig of the Star Tribune recently looked at Minnesota's turnover ratio — both in 2020 and the past six-plus seasons — to get a glimpse of how Zimmer's team compares to previous seasons.

Craig wrote:

The Vikings turnover ratio in Mike Zimmer's 113 games as head coach is plus-26. That's 162 takeaways, 136 giveaways and top-5 rankings of plus-11 in 2016 and 2019.

The only full season in red figures was 2014, Zimmer's first year. A minus-1 ratio was but one of many blows that contributed to his only losing season.

This year, the Vikings are minus-4 with a ranking — 23rd — that would be the worst of the Zimmer era by four spots. The offense has turned the ball over 21 times — already one more than the previous high set in 2014 and tied in 2018 and again last year. Meanwhile, the defense sits at 17 takeaways, 14 fewer than last year's Zimmer era-high of 31 and two shy of the Zimmer-era lows of 19 in 2014 and 2017.

"It's just difficult because, you know, offenses take so good care of the football that it doesn't happen that much," Zimmer said of takeaways. "In order to do that, typically you're getting pressure on the quarterback and he's making poor decisions or there's tipped balls or some kind of ball disruption, punching the ball out or something like that."

The Vikings recorded a season-high four takeaways Sunday against the Jaguars, as Harrison Smith and Cameron Dantzler had interceptions. Dantzler and Jordan Brailford also forced and recovered fumbles against Jacksonville.

But the Vikings offense also committed a pair of turnovers, too. Both were costly, and both occurred on the first play of each quarter in the second half.

Kirk Cousins threw a pick-six on the opening play of the third quarter. He and Dalvin Cook combined to botch a handoff when Minnesota's offense was at the Jacksonville 1-yard line. The Jaguars recovered the fumble, but the Vikings defense soon produced a safety due to an Ifeadi Odenigbo sack in the end zone.

Craig noted that the Vikings would be wise to win the turnover battle Sunday against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, and in the final four games of the regular season.

Next up: A Buccaneers team that's plus-4 in turnover ratio with 20 takeaways and 16 giveaways, including 11 interceptions and two pick-sixes by a fella named Brady.

Tampa Bay's turnover margin is tied for the ninth-best among all NFL teams.

Rudolph welcomes Kendricks to Vikings MOY club

Eric Kendricks is the Vikings Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.

The NFL announced the nominees from all 32 teams Thursday morning, with Kendricks earning the Vikings nomination because of his community efforts on childhood hunger and helping those impacted by the justice system.

This is Kendricks' first MOY nomination, and he was praised by Kyle Rudolph, who was Minnesota's nominee (and a MOY finalist in 2019) for his constant work in the Twin Cities.

All 32 nominees will receive a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.

The nominees will also be highlighted and recognized during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LV. The 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a prime-time awards special to air on CBS during the week of Super Bowl LV.