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Transcript: DeFilippo Introduces Himself to the Twin Cities

Posted Feb 9, 2018

Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo  

Just want to thank everyone for joining in. I am really looking forward to working with everybody and having a good working relationship and being honest and up front with each other. I couldn’t thank the Wilf Family and Coach Mike Zimmer enough for allowing me to be the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. It’s an unbelievable opportunity for me and my wife, Kari. We are so looking forward to getting up there and being a part of the Twin Cities community, the Minnesota state community. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of what we know we want to experience, what we just experienced in Philadelphia yesterday, which was bringing a world championship home to the state of Minnesota. But I just wanted to start off by saying how excited myself and my family are to be part of such a special organization.

Q: Can you just fill us in on how it all came together yesterday when you met with the Vikings?

A: It did. I had the opportunity this offseason to go to a bunch of different opportunities. Obviously, I interviewed for two head coaching jobs. I went in another direction. There were a few other opportunities to be an offensive coordinator in the league. I’m not going to name names, but when the Minnesota Vikings want to talk to you, that is a whole different ball game. We just got done playing them three weeks ago in the NFC Championship. As an offensive coach, I’ve never been more on edge planning for a defense than in the last two years. Obviously we came out on top those two games, but game planning against that defense and that team is not an easy thing to do. It was obviously a special opportunity to work for Coach [Mike] Zimmer and learn from him and work for another great head coach in another opportunity for myself to call plays. All of those things that I just said made the job very, very appealing.

Q: As you start to go through this, how much do you expect to bring with you from the Eagles offense and how much do you think it will be from other places you’ve been?

A: I’ve been very fortunate. That is a great question. I’ve been very fortunate to be around a lot of really good coaches. I call myself young, but I’ll be 40 in April. At a very young age in the coaching world, I’ve been exposed to a lot of different offenses. The first thing we are going to do is sit down and see what the Minnesota Vikings did well last year. If they did something really, really well and their players are good at it, there is no reason to change it. We are going to take pieces from other places I’ve been, then take pieces from Philadelphia. At the same time, obviously, there are a lot of good things that the Minnesota Vikings did that we are going to continue to do. We are going to mesh a bunch of different ideas and things that the players will be comfortable with, number one and things the coaching staff will be comfortable with, number two.

Q: With some of the quarterback decisions to make, what sort of a quarterback do you like to work with your offense?

A: That is another good question. I’ll tell you what, I said this in my interview and I say this all the time. I said this in my media sessions in Minneapolis at the Super Bowl. Character is number one for me. If you have character at that position, you have a chance to succeed. If you don’t have it, you have zero chance to succeed. So number one, we are going to look for a person that is going to represent our football team and conduct himself the way we want him on and off the football field. That is very, very important. Number two, the three most important attributes of playing the quarterback position are decision making, timing and accuracy. We are going to heavily research into those three factors with whoever is the quarterback next year in Minnesota and really dig into those three areas. Finally, it’s a guy that shows some form of leadership. You don’t need to be a rah-rah guy all the time, but you need to show some form of leadership so other guys will follow you, look up to you and when times get tough, will play for you. All of those things I just mentioned are very important components for the quarterback position. 

Q: How much does athleticism play into it for you?

A: That is part of it. There is no doubt. Athleticism is a unique trait for a quarterback. There are different types of athleticism for a quarterback. There are guys like the Michael Vick types and those things. Then there are guys that have great athleticism moving their feet in the pocket that keep plays alive to extend plays. I am not a big believer in quarterbacks that are sticks in the mud back there. They’re in cement back there at seven and a half yards deep. Our quarterbacks are going to need to show some form of athleticism, yes.

Q: Did you get any sense in your meetings with Coach Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman in how much say you will have in helping collect your next quarterback this offseason?

A: Yes, I did. I am going to have some say and I am going to have as much say as they want me to. I am a team player. I am going to do whatever they ask me to do in terms of researching the players we are going to research. I am going to leave no stone unturned. Like I said, we talked about it last night, it is going to be a collaborative effort. Something that we all agree on because when it’s divided, I’ve been through this situation before searching for Derek Carr and Carson Wentz. I’ve had some experience in this situation in trying to find your quarterback to lead your football team. As much or as little of my input that they want I will give them. But I know whatever information I give them will be very educated and very researched. 

Q: Can you walk us through your day yesterday?

A: It was an unbelievable day. It was an unbelievable day. I mean how many guys can say they participated in a Super bowl parade in the morning and became 1 of 32 play callers in the National Football League that night? I think that’s a pretty good deal. So, I mean it was a whirlwind, yes. It was a whirlwind that was 100% worth it. I’ll tell you that was professionally and personally, my wife and I, I would say besides the day we got married it was probably one of our better days as a married couple. 

Q: Can you talk about your offensive philosophies and your mindset in the red zone?

A: We’re going to have a touchdown-check down mentality in the red zone. We’re going to throw the ball in the end zone if it’s there and it’s not there we’re going to check the ball down. The two best traits of red zone teams in the National Football League is number one, your ability to run the football in the red zone, because there’s safeties are going to be on you. There’s 22 guys in a tight space. Our backs are going to have to do a great a job of running through the unblocked players and then that’s the nature of NFL red zone football. Is your backs taking on that extra player and making them miss, running them over, whatever you have to do to get in the end zone. And the same time we’re going to have plays where all the quarterbacks feel comfortable with because of certain coverages we’re seeing from team to team to be able to cut the ball loose in tight windows down there.

Q: Who would you say best epitomizes the guy you want at quarterback from the guys you have coached?

A: Well, I wish I could build like a robot quarterback. They all have different traits. I’ll be honest with you I’m not big on player comparisons. I never have been because each player’s situation is very, very different and I would be doing a disservice to the really, really amount of good players that I’ve coached if I get into player comparisons. So, I tend to stay away from those.

Q: How well did you know Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman before this? How well did you know Tony Sparano?

A: Obviously, I know Tony the best because he and I worked together two years while I was in Oakland. He was our head coach for 12 of our remaining games during my third season there. So obviously I’m very close with coach Sparano, his wife, Jeanette, and their family. Kari and I have a wonderful relationship with their family. Rick Spielman and the DeFilippo family go back a long, long way and my father used to recruit Rick’s dad in high school back in Ohio. Our families go back a long way. It was the first time I got to sit down and talk with Rick last night, face to face. But there’s no doubt he comes from a football family. I mean it’s just easy football talk. And then coach Zimmer is just a guy that I’ve always admired from afar going up against him. He’s kicked my butt a lot on teams that I’ve been on. Making you stay up late trying to figure out a way to block some of the double A packages, some of that odd stuff he shows. My initial reaction with coach Zimmer was I was a lot more tired on Friday night than other weeks. It was just more mutual respect thing there with coach Zimmer, but we hit it off either way, because the three of us had one thing in mind – we all love football. And that’s a good thing when your general manager, your head coach, and your offensive coordinator are sitting there and talking football and all three love the game and love to talk football, there’s just a lot good things that can happen out of that.

Q: Was there one particular thing that you shared with Nick Foles before the playoffs that you saw pay off?

A: Two things. Number one, I sat him down and made him list me, with our coaching staff, what are your best concepts, what do you see yourself do well? Because I’m not, myself, Frank Reich, Doug Pederson are not throwing the ball. He is. And so, we really sat down and spent some time with Nick and formulated game plans based on what he felt comfortable doing. And to me that’s coaching. Why would you ask your player to do something that he’s not comfortable with? Nick was open and honest about things that we wasn’t comfortable with and things that he was comfortable with and we’re very fortunate as a team, it wasn’t all just Nick. Nick played a very big part in it, but as a team obviously we went on to win the super Bowl.

Q: How has your experience in a lot of different places and situations benefitted your career?

A: I think that’s a major reason why I’m sitting here talking to you today. It started way before my coaching career. I think I lost count, you can go back and do some research, I’m turning 40 in April, I think this is my 19th move, it’s either 18 or 19, I’ve lost count. I think as a kid, when you grow up in this, and you’re forced to put yourself in different situations, meeting people, making friends. It forces you to kind of put yourself out there a little bit. The same way as a coach, I think the more you expose yourself, the more you’re exposed to different things, I think the more you learn. I’ve had situations like this one but moved on after obviously, being promoted, and I’ve had situations, where I’ve been on and I’ve had to move and staffs that have been let go. Unfortunately, and fortunately, that’s kind of the nature of the beast in today’s NFL. I look at it as a positive. I’m a glass half-full guy. I think the more everyone is around me, you’ll realize that, I’m very positive. I hold our players accountable but at the same time, I’m very positive. I look at it as a good thing and not a bad thing.

Q: When you’ve already received interest for head coaching jobs, how long do you view yourself potentially staying here?

A: I’ve been very fortunate, my mom and dad blessed me with a one-day-at-a-time mindset. I try to do my job to the best of my ability every single day. There were certain things that came up during the Super Bowl week and my agent tried to call me, he and I didn’t even talk. I said, ‘I don’t even want to talk about it, don’t even want to talk about it.’ Because the more I talk about it, that’s how much time I take away from the quarterbacks of the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s not fair to them and that’s not fair to the team. So I’ve been very blessed with a one day at a time mindset. There’s been times in my career that I’ve had to pick myself up, dust myself off. There’s been times I’ve ridden down Broad Street in a super Bowl parade and everywhere in between. I’m very fortunate that I keep things one day at a time.

Q: What was the biggest difference between Carson Wentz’ first year and this year?

A: His 16 games he played as a rookie, there’s no doubt. When you draft a guy that high, at number two, number one, whatever. In my opinion, get his butt in there. Because there’s nothing you can do at the quarterback position besides playing. Situational football is a big piece of winning football games in the NFL. There were times where Carson wasn’t so great in situational football as a rookie but he’s one of those type of guys that writes things down, he logs things in the back of his memory. He’s not what I call a repeat offender, he’s not going to make the same mistake twice. He logged those experiences. He and I had a very long sit down at the end of last year on five or six things that we really needed to focus on in the offseason. He really bought into those five or six things. I know that was a small piece in his success this season. The major piece was just getting him in there and letting him make mistakes, letting him make great plays and anything in between. I think you can’t discount us just throwing him in there and letting him play.

Q: When you looked at the Vikings offense, what did you find appealing and what areas do you think you need to concentrate on as you take over?

A: The things I found appealing were, obviously it was a team that was 13-3 last year, filled with a lot of good players. Personally, I don’t want to comment on anything with the Philadelphia Eagles in terms of the draft. Personally, I loved Dalvin Cook coming out of that draft, I loved him. I knew he was a very special player. Obviously, going against and playing against this team the last two years, the skill players on the outside are special guys that can really play. [Kyle] Rudolph is a really good player, the offensive line has been greatly improved from the first time we played them to this go-around. All of those things were very, very enticing about the job and on top of just the team itself.

Q: Are you allowed to reach out to offensive players to introduce yourself?

A: I’m going to wait until I get up to Minnesota to do any of that. Because I want clarification on that myself.  As football coaches we’re concerned about one thing and that’s football. I want to get with the guys that know all those specific rules and this and that before I do anything. The last thing I want to do is do something that is going to hurt the team before I even get up there.