EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Media sessions with Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur, Defensive Coordinator George Edwards and Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer on Thursday made it clear that the Rams are one of the most complete teams in the NFL.
There are reasons in each phase of the game for why Los Angeles is 7-2 after finishing 2016 with a 4-12 mark.
The Vikings also are 7-2, thanks to a five-game win streak that continued last Sunday with a 38-30 victory over the Redskins.
Case Keenum completed 21 of 29 passes for 304 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 117.0. Keenum's big day garnered him FedEx Air Player of the Week honors.
Shurmur said he's seen Keenum, who is 5-2 as a starter this season, make improvements each week.
"That's what happens when you get a guy that plays game, after game, after game," Shurmur said. "He's earned the trust of players he plays with, the team, the coaches, and we're looking forward to him going out this week and even playing better."
Shurmur said Keenum has picked thinks up quickly this season because of his commitment and instincts that quarterbacks often have.
"Well I think quarterbacks, most quarterbacks have been in different systems, and by the nature of the position, they're smart, instinctive guys," Shurmur said. "They're used to learning new offenses and new ways to say things, and they're kind of conceptual in how they approach it. And that's helped Case and served him well having been other places. Then it's just a matter of committing yourself and devoting yourself to what we do and how we call it and how we want to function, and he's done all that as well."
Here are other topics discussed by Vikings coordinators on Thursday:
Rams Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips (@sonofbum on Twitter) has 154,000 followers who are entertained quite often by his quips.
Going against a Phillips defense, however, is no laughing matter.
Shurmur said the Rams are already "a classic Wade Phillips defense," switching from a 4-3 to 3-4 base since Phillips arrived this offseason.
"They're very tough to attack. They've got really good players," Shurmur said. "They play five on the line quite a bit, but they will play nickel. They've got good coverage in the back end, so they'll play as much man as they like they want to against you. They're a team that gets negative factor plays for the offense. You see it in lots of sacks, turnovers, lots of bad stuff for the offense. We've got to try to minimize or eliminate those kind of plays so we can stay on schedule."
The Rams have recorded 28 sacks, made 12 interceptions and recovered seven fumbles.
A sequel of sorts
Edwards said the Rams offense is similar to the Redskins, "no doubt about it."
The reason for that is because Los Angeles Head Coach Sean McVay was Washington's offensive coordinator the past three seasons and previously worked with Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden.
Minnesota prevailed at Washington last week to avenge a 26-20 loss in the nation's capital in 2016.
"There is a lot of carry-over, a lot of similarities and some of the concepts that we will see out of them offensively," Edwards said. "Especially when you start looking at certain areas, whether it's third down, red zone, two minute, those kind of things.
"This team, personnel-wise, is really good," Edwards continued. "They've got a really good back in [Todd] Gurley, the receivers are doing a great job. [Jared] Goff is doing a great job of getting the ball out to those guys in those situations. He seems to be reading the defenses pretty good and getting the ball out."
The Rams already have more points (296) than they did in all of 2016 when they totaled 224. Los Angeles is leading the NFL in points per game (32.9) a season after ranking last in the category.
Edwards said the Rams have improved their efficiency through situations.
"[Goff] has improved on a lot of areas," Edwards said. "Look at his quarterback rating. Situational football, understanding what people are trying to do to him. The offensive line is protecting him, and he's able to get the ball out quick. That's the thing that you see. When they come up to the line, you better be ready. They're snapping it, and he's unloading the ball. We have to do a good job of being on our Ps and Qs in those situations."
Rams special on special teams
When McVay was hired by Los Angeles, the Rams made multiple changes on offense and defense but retained Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel.
The Rams special teams units have been consistently good at kicking and punting, as well as returning and covering kicks. They also still pose threats of fake punts or exotic trick plays on returns.
"[McVay] did a great job of keeping Coach Fassel around, and he's done a phenomenal job over the years of keeping people off balance with the fakes and to be quite honest, they're really good in every phase," Priefer said. "They're well coached, they do a great job with their techniques. They're a highly penalized team on punt returns. They block in the back and hold a lot. Hopefully we can take advantage of that by playing faster than them. They're trying to take chances, and they're very, very impressive in everything that they do. So, we need to be up to the challenge."
Quite a kicking display
Vikings kicker Kai Forbath has the second-best accuracy rate on field goals in the NFL in 2017. Forbath is 22-of-23 on 3-pointers this season (95.7 percent). Forbath is 10-for-10 on kicks of 40-plus yards this season and has a pair of 53-yarders.
The only player ahead of him is Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein, who has made 28 of 29 field goals. Zuerlein's only miss was from 36 against Seattle in Week 5. He's 13-for-13 from 40-plus yards with a long of 56.
Priefer credited Forbath for making a "game-winning type of clinching field goal" at Washington to give Minnesota an 11-point lead with 7:45 remaining.
"Kai is having a very good year, he's confident," Priefer said. "He had a really good pregame. He had been there before, he had kicked in that stadium many times, obviously, when he was with the Redskins. His confidence is really good right now. We've just got to keep protecting, keep snapping and holding like we're doing and hopefully keep making kicks."
Priefer said field position will be important Sunday because if the Rams cross an opponent's 40-yard line, then Zuerlein is "almost automatic."