EAGAN, Minn. — George Iloka’s initial impact with the Vikings deflected a Seahawks pass into the hands of Anthony Harris.
The tipped ball may be just the tip of the iceberg, however, for the veteran who was added last week by the Vikings after his release from Cincinnati.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards said Monday that Iloka has quickly shown that “he’s a true professional” as well as a familiarity with the system that is similar to what Head Coach Mike Zimmer used as defensive coordinator of the Bengals. Iloka played for Zimmer from 2012-13 in Cincinnati.
“You can see his work ethic; he’s very familiar with what we’re doing systematically and just matchup-wise and the things we ask our safeties to do, the different packages we’re using,” Edwards said. “He’s picked up on those things pretty quick. We’re excited to have him and look forward to keep progressing.”
In the evolving chess matches between defenses and offenses, Iloka could possibly be implemented as part of a three-safety package. One example of how that might help is against a team that likes to use a two-tight end set.
Edwards likened Iloka’s understanding of the Vikings system to when Terence Newman joined Minnesota in 2015. Newman played for Zimmer from 2003-06 in Dallas and from 2012-13 in Cincinnati.
“You come in, and you’ve been exposed to the system and you understand the calls, you understand where to get lined up, so you’re not having to think quite as much, you know, having to think about the verbiage of the different things from system to system that get called,” Edwards said. “He’s come in and jumped right in. There’s some things technically and fundamentally that we may do a little bit different, just from the time that he’s been away from Coach Zimmer. But I think for the most part, he’s got a good grasp of what we’re looking for – individually from his position and from the different things we’re asking him to do.”
Here are five other topics addressed by Vikings coordinators:
1. It’s a trap
Seattle experienced success on running up the middle of the Vikings defense on Friday with a trap play.
Zimmer said after the game that it appeared the Seahawks had designed that play with the Vikings in mind. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was with Seattle in 2017 before signing with Minnesota. Former Vikings defensive tackles Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen signed with the Seahawks this offseason.
After a couple of chunk runs for the Seahawks, the Vikings made some adjustments.
“I’ll tell you what, they did a nice job schematically,” Edwards said. “We didn’t play it very good, we didn’t execute it very good, we didn’t react to it very good. Once we got to the sideline, if you’ll think back, after the second one they ran, when we got off to the sideline we finally got it addressed, and that really slowed it down the rest of the way.”
Edwards said it was good for the Vikings to have to make an in-game adjustment.
2. DeFilippo on return of Remmers and Hill
Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo and the Vikings have been working with numerous injuries up front. The offensive line, however, was bolstered on Friday with the return of Mike Remmers at right guard and Rashod Hill at right tackle.
Both only played the opening series, a 15-play possession that lasted for more than half of the first quarter.
“If those guys hadn’t had some experience in the past, obviously I’d be a little more concerned,” DeFilippo said. “The other night, I thought you felt those guys in the game. It was great to have those guys back. You feel their presence at the line of scrimmage. We’re really happy to have those guys back and heal up and get better.”
3. DeFilippo on the first-team offense
A week after netting 13 yards on 16 plays against Jacksonville, the Vikings first-team offense played the entire first half and netted 209 yards on 41 plays.
The Vikings drove 97 yards on their second possession and ended it with a 1-yard touchdown by Latavius Murray.
DeFilippo said the next step for the group that had three drives of 12 or more plays and one three-and-punt is to finish drives with touchdowns. Daniel Carlson was wide left on 42-yard field goals after Minnesota’s first and fourth possessions.
“I was pleased to see us start faster the other night,” DeFilippo said. “We just have to finish those drives. You don’t want to put it in the hands of your kicker whether he makes those or not. You just want to finish those drives. We have to do a better job of finishing, which we will.”
DeFilippo said the timing of a fade from Kirk Cousins to Stefon Diggs was a little off. The play, on a third-and-3 from the Seattle 24 resulted in a pass breakup by Shaquill Griffin.
4. Priefer on kicking and punting
Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said the Vikings had a disappointing night kicking and punting but he’s confident that mistakes can be mended.
“The kicker/punter situation is obviously a concern,” Priefer said. “Coach Zim’ said it was a bad night, and it was a bad night. We didn’t punt well. I think we had one good punt out of five and one good kickoff out of three, and we missed two field goals and made a PAT. Obviously unacceptable.
“Guys came back with a good attitude yesterday,” Priefer continued. “We had a really good punting and kicking session, snapping obviously with Kevin [McDermott]. They both did a great job. We did work indoors, we did work outdoors and got a lot of good, quality work in. We’ve come back in refocused and ready to roll. I’ve gone back and showed some tape from last year to [punter Ryan] Quigley to see some of the directional punts that he was successful at and what makes him tick, and he’s not far off. He’s very, very close. I think he’s thinking a little too much. Daniel, on his misses, he probably tried a little too hard or tried to swing a little bit too hard, and he doesn’t need to do that because his leg strength is as advertised.”
5. Priefer on Beebe’s punt return
Chad Beebe caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Sloter in the game’s final minute, and Sloter followed with a 2-point conversion pass to Jake Wieneke for the deciding margin in the 21-20 victory.
Somewhat understated in the late-game heroics was Beebe’s punt return that preceded the drive.
Rookie Michael Dickson boomed a 61-yarder that outkicked Seattle’s coverage. Beebe fielded the ball at the Minnesota 13-yard line and returned it 34 yards.
“[It was] a great job by Chad of going to get that ball and a great set by him,” Priefer said. “He got to the outside of the wall, and if the punter doesn’t make a nice play, that would have been a touchdown because we had a line of blockers. It was well-played by Chad and that whole punt return team, which were a lot of the young guys, so I’m very pleased with how we finished that game. It wasn’t a great game for us across the board, but I’ve got to accentuate the positives along with correcting the negatives.”