EAGAN, Minn. – A pair of new coaches are eager to get to work with Minnesota's defense.
The Vikings on Thursday announced the hiring of defensive backs coach Karl Scott, who most recently coached cornerbacks at Alabama, and senior defensive assistant Paul Guenther, who spent the past three seasons as the Raiders defensive coordinator.
Guenther and Scott each spoke with Twin Cities media members Thursday afternoon.
"I'm very thankful for [Vikings Head Coach] Zimmer and [General Manager] Rick Spielman for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this organization," Scott said. "[My] and Coach Zimmer's philosophy on defensive back play very much align, as far as what we like and what we look for in a defensive back, as far as being tough, physical and smart. So definitely looking forward to the opportunity ahead of us."
Guenther, meanwhile, will be reuniting with Zimmer after the two spent six seasons together with the Bengals (2008-13).
Guenther is well-versed in Zimmer's defensive system, which he helped build up in Cincinnati.
"Just really excited to get back with him. A guy I'm real familiar with," Guenther said. "His core values, the way he runs the team, the way he runs the program here. Real excited to be joining forces again."
Asked about how Zimmer has changed over the past 13 years, Guenther quipped that Zimmer "is probably more stubborn" now than in the pair's early days working together.
"No, he is a great football coach, has got great core values – not much has changed," Guenther said. "You see a lot of guys become head coaches and change, and Mike has really been the same strong guy, strong football coach, strong man that I once knew when we worked together in Cincinnati.
"We had time in the offseason when we were [with different teams] to get together and share some ideas," he added. "I'm excited to be back with him."
Guenther and Scott will be working with a Vikings defense that in 2020 welcomed several new, young faces.
In the defensive backs room, Scott will be able to help mold young draft picks Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler, who both experienced growing pains throughout their rookie campaign but showed improvement throughout the season.
Scott hasn't yet had the opportunity to do a deep-dive on the youngsters' tape but is excited to do so.
"I definitely look forward to dissecting the film and picking apart those guys and looking at some of their strengths and some of their weaknesses," he said, "and hopefully work together with those guys to improve and maximize their talents."
Here are four other takeaways from media sessions with Minnesota's newest defensive coaches:
Scott on similarity between the defenses at Alabama and Minnesota
After three seasons with the Crimson Tide, Scott sees crossover between Alabama's scheme and what the Vikings run under Zimmer.
"At the end of the day, it's football, and we're all doing pretty much the same thing but calling it different things," Scott said. "[But] when you look at the film of Alabama and you look at Coach Zimmer's defense, honestly there are a lot of things that marry together. So I'm definitely looking forward to being a part of this and getting back to where [the Vikings] used to be."
Guenther on his role on the Vikings coaching staff
Guenther was asked about his anticipated role as the Vikings senior defensive assistant. He noted that he only arrived in Minnesota on Wednesday and will be ironing out finer details in the days to come.
"Well, it's early on in the process," Guenther said, "but from what I understand it's helping out all three levels of the defense. I've been able to coach those three levels throughout my career. Maybe help out some things situationally game day, packages, whether it'll be situational packages, just the overall details of the scheme and the players within it.
"We have to be looking for guys who can fit our scheme, whether it be in free agency or the draft and those type of things," he added.
Scott on working with Harrison Smith
In joining the Vikings, Scott will be working with veteran safety Harrison Smith, a five-time Pro Bowler who has consistently played a crucial role in Minnesota's defense.
"Kind of like I said with … the young guys, I haven't had a chance to really dive in and dissect the film, but from afar, Harrison Smith is a guy that you probably term as a 'perennial pro,' " Scott said. "A guy that you look at who handles his business the right way and goes about it the right way. I'm excited to be a part of that journey, and I look forward to extending his career."
Guenther on tweaking existing defensive scheme
Familiarity with Zimmer's defense will be beneficial for Guenther transitioning into a new organization, and he was asked about the possibility of adding new wrinkles to the system.
"I think you've got to kind of keep moving because the offenses are changing so much in the NFL, and that's what we're going through right now … looking at how we want to tweak things based upon the landscape of the offenses that we're seeing each week," Guenther said. "It might've been different back in 2013 or '14 to now, or even a year ago, with what offenses are trying to do to the defenses. So we're always looking to find ways to improve the schematics, the techniques, the fundamentals of what we're trying to teach within this scheme. So that's what we're doing right now – full force."