EAGAN, Minn. – After each game, Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo re-watches the tape and evaluates.
Along with the players’ performances, DeFilippo self-scouts play calls made throughout the contest. He was asked by Twin Cities media members about the balance of the run and pass game at New England in Week 13 and said he thought the Vikings were “pretty balanced” in the first half. There were some plays against the Patriots that DeFilippo said he’d like to have back.
“There were two or three instances where we threw the football, like on that first-and-10 from around the 26, that we probably should’ve run the football,” DeFilippo said. “I [explained that to Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer] and my thoughts on that. It’s just like anybody, I look to go out each week and improve myself. You’re always self-evaluating and looking for ways to get better.”
Zimmer had said after the Patriots game that the Vikings could have run the ball more after seeing success initially. DeFilippo emphasized that he and Zimmer are “in constant communication” on how to improve Minnesota’s offense.
Prior to joining the Vikings, DeFilippo worked as the Eagles quarterbacks coach and was under an offensive-minded head coach in Doug Pederson. DeFilippo said working with Zimmer, whose background is defensive, provides a “different way of seeing the game.”
“I’ve learned a ton from Coach Zimmer,” DeFilippo said. “You are forced to because you have to go out in the OTAs and in training camp and go out and block some of those looks and have answers for some of those looks. I’ve learned through not only just talking with him, but at the same time, going up against his scheme every day has made me a better coach personally.”
Here are other topics covered by DeFilippo, Defensive Coordinator George Edwards and Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer during their podium sessions Friday:
DeFilippo on running against the Seahawks
With the above considered, is it accurate to expect a heavier dose of the run game against the Seahawks on Monday Night Football? DeFilippo pointed out that the running has shown flashes in recent weeks and that it’s important to keep “grinding away” at it.
He was asked specifically about Seattle, the way it often stacks eight defenders in the box and if that makes it more challenging the run the ball downhill.
DeFilippo delved into his philosophy:
“I think that you are seeing the majority of the NFL in an eight-man box now, or if you are an 11-personnel, it’s what we call a hard seven-man box,” DeFilippo explained. “There are ways you can get around it. Is it simple like in the old days where they give you a two-high shell and you run the football against the favorable box? That is not the world we live in anymore.
“You have to find some creative ways to get the ball on the perimeter,” DeFilippo added. “That could be through screens, wide receiver screens, running back screens, unique ways of getting the ball on the edge. We just have to keep finding ways to do that and get our playmakers in space.”
Edwards on the Seahawks under Schottenheimer
Seattle is in its first season under Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who previously held the same role with the Jets (2006-11) and the Rams (2012-14).
Edwards said the Seahawks were a “different team” through the first couple games of the season.
“I think that they did was settle down and say, ‘This is what we’re good at.’ That’s what they do,” Edwards said. “That’s why they’re … first in the league rushing and second in the red zone. They do well in those situations. They’re a good situational offense. You can tell, they do an exceptional job of, number one, not turning the ball over, and number two, they just keep the sticks moving.”
Edwards on pressuring Wilson via third-down situations
New England’s Tom Brady and Seattle’s Russell Wilson are certainly different quarterbacks with unique skill sets, but both are talented passers who find ways to get the ball downfield.
When looking at trying to pressure either quarterback, however, Edwards said it’s important to get the team into third-and-long situations.
“We’ve got to do a good job on first and second down, to where we can make those longer situations where they’re not in third-and-2-to-4, running the football, and those kinds of things,” Edwards said. “This team is very similar in third-and-2-to-4 [as the Patriots], or when you get in longer yardages, they’ll run the football. We’ve got to do a good job of putting ourselves ahead of the sticks on first and second down, too.”
Priefer on assessing Abdullah on special teams
The Vikings last month signed running back Ameer Abdullah, and he has been seeing some success in the kick-return game for Minnesota.
Priefer called Abdullah a “fine young man” who has smoothly transitioned into a new team.
“He’s smart, he’s got great ability, got great athletic ability,” Priefer said. “I’m excited about continuing to coach him and doing the things I think we do a little bit different than some other teams in terms of how we block, how we return, how we catch the ball, how we track the ball. He’s been open to all that coaching, and he’s been great.
Priefer added that he hopes to see Abdullah get going, “hopefully” a little bit at Seattle.
“We had a real nice return out to the 34 or 35 the other day [against the Patriots], one block away from a big play,” he said. “A guy came over the top and forced him outside late. The second one was OK; New England really over played it. We cut it back, Ameer did a nice cut back and got it to about the 29-, 30-yard line. Hopefully, we can get another big play and continue that trend, especially with our kickoff return unit.”
Priefer on Bailey’s overall season
Kicker Dan Bailey is 16-of-22 on field goals and 20-of-21 on PATs since signing with the Vikings after Week 2.
Priefer was asked to assess Bailey’s overall season in Minnesota thus far.
He acknowledged that there’s “a couple you want him to make,” and said that Bailey understands the expectations.
“He’s a pro, and he gets it. I think he’s kicked off quiet well for us overall,” Priefer said. “Down the stretch, we’ll be able to do some different things with him as I feel more comfortable with him kicking, especially indoors.
“I thought he kicked off well for us the other night,” Priefer added. “We just, overall on special teams, I think we’ve had some really good games, and we’ve had some games where we didn’t play as well.”