EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo faced his new team twice over the past two seasons — once in the regular season and once in the playoffs.
And while DeFilippo was on the winning side both times as the Eagles quarterbacks coach, he recently revealed that the days leading up to both games against Minnesota were some of his most challenging in the NFL.
Because the thought of going up against Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and his vaunted defense gave him nightmares.
"As an offensive coach, I've never been more on edge planning for a defense than in the last two years," DeFilippo said Friday on a conference call with the Twin Cities media. "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] Zimmer and learn from him and work for another great head coach in another opportunity for myself to call plays," DeFilippo added. "All of those things that I just said made the job very, very appealing."
The Vikings announced DeFilippo's hiring on Friday morning. Minnesota had an opening at the position after Pat Shurmur was hired as the Giants head coach.
View images of Vikings new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo from his days with the Eagles, Browns, Raiders and Jets.
DeFilippo, who is entering his 12th total season in the NFL, spent the past two seasons in Philadelphia. He also made stops in Cleveland, Oakland (twice) and with the New York Giants and Jets.
The Vikings produced the best defense in the league — and one of the best in franchise history — during a stellar 2017 season. Minnesota ranked first in points allowed (15.8), the first time it had done so since 1970. The Vikings also allowed the fewest yards per game (275.9), the team's best mark since 1993.
If that wasn't enough, Minnesota also had the best third-down defense in NFL history (the stat started being tracked in 1991). The Vikings allowed just 51 conversions on 202 attempts (25.2 percent).
Zimmer, who is 39-25 in four seasons with the Vikings, welcome DeFilippo on board to Minnesota.
"We are very excited to add John to our staff," Zimmer said in a statement released Friday. "We took our time with the search and made sure we left no stone unturned to get the right fit.
"He has a track record of success and has proven to be a great teacher," Zimmer added. "We feel John will have good chemistry with our team, and we are all eager to get to work."
In his conference call with local reporters, DeFilippo praised Zimmer's coaching ability and gushed about the amount of respect he has for the Vikings fourth-year head coach.
"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," DeFilippo said. "Making you stay up late trying to figure out a way to block some of the [double-A gap] 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 [while game planning for the Vikings defense]. It was just more of a mutual respect thing there with coach Zimmer, but we hit it off either way," DeFilippo added.