Everyone is an expert when it comes to explaining the Vikings' 2-8 start to the 2013 season. One explanation that gets more obvious, yet more hidden, every week is the fact that the Vikings don't create turnovers on defense – a critical component to winning football games.
The Vikings are currently 20th in the league in interceptions with eight. The problem is that they were near the top of the NFL through the first quarter of the season because they had seven interceptions through the first four games.
They have been dropping steadily since and have just one interception in the last six games. That was a critical pick by A.J. Jefferson. To date, it is the only interception by a cornerback on the Vikings roster.
Of the seven other interceptions, four are from linebackers (two each from Erin Henderson and Chad Greenway), two are from injured safety Harrison Smith – the only ballhawk in the Vikings secondary – and the other was by defensive tackle Kevin Williams.
Interceptions happen in a variety of ways. A quarterback locks onto a receiver and the defense reacts. The defensive line brings pressure and a pass is thrown too quickly. A pass is tipped at the line of scrimmage. A pass is deflected in between the thrower and the target. A receiver falls making his cut. A quarterback simply doesn't see a lurking defender ready to cut off a route. A defensive back jumps a route. Somebody makes a play on a jump ball.
The Vikings have witnessed all of those varieties of interceptions over the last six games. But they've been by other defenses on passes thrown by Vikings quarterbacks.
In untested Packers QB Scott Tolzien the Vikings have every opportunity to get any variety of those different types of cause-based interceptions. Will they be able to make good on that promise with a banged up secondary and a pass rush that hasn't been as consistent as expected?
You can blame the final minute of halves as a reason the Vikings haven't been able to get their 2013 season going in the direction they want. But if there is a statistic that can explain why the Vikings haven't reclaimed their season after a 1-3 start, it could be the lack of interceptions to stop the opponent.
Just as the Vikings offense needs to make a decisive decision, perhaps its time for the Vikings defense to dial up an ultra-aggressive blitz package to try to get sacks, create turnovers and force Tolzien to make instantaneous decisions. There may be no better opportunity to force the issue to reverse a bad stat.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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