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Final Thoughts: Coaches Emphasize Importance of Preseason Game No. 4 for Vikings

If for even a second one wondered whether – after months of the offseason program, Organized Team Activities, minicamps and then training camp – those within the walls of TCO Performance Center were taking their foot off the gas for the final preseason game, the Vikings coordinators promptly and profoundly dispelled any thought of it.

“This is an important game for a lot of people Thursday,” offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said with a great deal of solemnity. “It’s an important game. Anytime you have a chance to put tape on of yourself in the National Football League, you want to put obviously the best tape you can put on.

“I don’t care if you’re going to be a starter on this team and you’re playing a little bit on Thursday. I don’t care if you’re a guy that’s trying to make the team. You’ve got to be careful what you put on tape because it’s on tape for a long time, forever. This is an important game for a lot of our guys on Thursday.”

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer was no less insistent on the importance of Thursday’s preseason finale, particularly given some miscues that have occurred with the Vikings special teams in the first three games.

“I think for [Daniel Carlson] and (Ryan) Quigley and all of our guys, to them it is the Super Bowl. They have to go out and play hard,” Priefer said. “They have to play to the best of their ability and prepare themselves for Week 1 or they are going to be somewhere else. I am talking about the other special teams guys. They could be somewhere else or not in the NFL at all. They have to go out and play hard. I am going to put the onus on them that they have to play fast and physical, cut it loose and go have some fun.”

With so many people on the outside downplaying or downright ignoring the fourth preseason game, it is surely invigorating and reassuring for those who will participate in the game to hear coaches speak so passionately about the opportunity that lies ahead on Thursday night.

Run defense versus Seattle

The Vikings boasted the NFL’s No. 2 rushing defense last season, surrendering 83.6 yards per game on the ground. They were also No. 5 in yards per carry allowed at 3.7. Nearly everyone is back from last season’s lineup plus the team added defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. That’s why it was noteworthy that in last week’s preseason contest the Seattle Seahawks were able to find some running room in the middle of Mike Zimmer’s defense.

Over the course of two series in the first half, Seattle ran the ball eight times for 41 yards, good for 5.1 per carry and a touchdown. Was it acceptable? No. Is it cause for grave concern going forward? That’s also a no. Defensive Coordinator George Edwards explained why.

“I’ll tell you what, they [Seattle] did a nice job schematically. They came in and ran the trap, and we didn’t play it very good, we didn’t execute it very good, and we didn’t react to it very good,” Edwards explained. “So once we got to the sideline, if you’ll think back, after the second one that they ran we got off to the sideline and we finally got it addressed, and that really slowed it down the rest of the way. But they did a good job schematically of attacking that, and we’ve got react to it better and coach better for our guys to recognize it quicker and better.”

Seattle ran right at the heart of the Vikings defense on the second play of the 3rd quarter, but Sheldon Richardson was there to make the stop for a gain of just two yards.

“So that was a good learning experience for us,” Edwards pointed out. “I think it was a good learning experience for our players of being able to come to the sideline, look at the pictures, get it adjusted and then go back out and stop the play.”

Mailbag

How explosive will the Minnesota Vikings offense be?

-- Abdi Aden

There’s no question the Vikings have playmakers at the skill positions to generate explosive plays both on the ground and through the air. At this point, though, it wouldn’t surprise me to see more explosive plays early on the season on the ground, with more an intermediate and short passing game to complement it. Then, once the Vikings establish a productive running game and defenses adjust, I can see the passing game taking off by using play action passes and by taking advantage of defenses that crowd the line of scrimmage to try to limit Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray.

Quotable

“I think just being comfortable with going from that side. The biggest thing is your footwork, especially taking on the run game, the foot that you got up and how you’re coming off. I think that’s primarily it, but Everson [Griffen] has played on both sides, Danielle has played on both sides, so that’s good that we have the flexibility of being able to move those guys around during the course of the season.”

That was Edwards, speaking about Danielle Hunter playing right defensive end of late with Everson Griffen missing time due to injury. How important is stopping the run to this Vikings coaching staff? When talking about one of the best pass rushers moving to the premier pass rushing spot, all Edwards could talk about was footwork and defending the run.

NFL Game Pass

Out of market? Don’t worry, you’re not out of luck this preseason. You can watch live out-of-market Vikings preseason games and replays of every game online via NFL Game Pass. Click here to start your free seven-day trial.

You can customize your viewing experience with NFL Game Pass. Want more than just the highlights, but don't have time for the full broadcast? Watch a Condensed Game in ~45 minutes. Want to watch tape like the pros with coaches’ film? There’s an all-22 version of the replay, too.

Broadcast Information

TV: FOX 9

Play-by-Play: Paul Allen

Analyst: Pete Bercich

Sideline: Greg Coleman, Ben Leber

Radio: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130

Play-by-Play: Paul Allen

Analyst: Pete Bercich

Sideline: Greg Coleman, Ben Leber

Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman – 5:00 pm CT

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