EAGAN, Minn. — For the second time in as many home games, the Vikings are preparing for a rookie quarterback named Josh who was selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
In Week 3, it was Buffalo’s Josh Allen, the seventh overall pick who hurt the Vikings with his legs on two touchdowns and capitalized on excellent starting field position with a touchdown pass.
On Sunday in Week 6, it will be Arizona’s Josh Rosen, the 10th overall selection.
Rosen has started the past two weeks after the Cardinals elevated him above former Viking Sam Bradford.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards said there have been some similarities and some differences with what Arizona has tried to do since changing quarterbacks.
Rosen is a “lot more active moving in the pocket, [does] a lot more bootleg in their play-action stuff, getting him on the move.”
Edwards said Rosen’s game film has been impressive.
“He’s shown the arm to be able to make all the throws,” Edwards said. “He’s very smart, you can see with his communication while getting guys lined up, getting the protection set. As a rookie, he’s doing a lot of things and doing a good job with them. He’s shown the ability to scramble and get out of situations, but he’s always looking down the field and been able to complete balls down the field.”
Rosen is 29-of-59 passing (49.2 percent) with 386 yards, two touchdowns and one interception with a passer rating of 74.5 in three games.
Here are other topics covered by Edwards, Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo and Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer on Thursday.
Edwards on Cardinals running back David Johnson
Cardinals running back David Johnson has played the Vikings twice so far in his four-season career and fared well both times.
Johnson rushed 19 times for 92 yards and caught five passes for 31 yards as a rookie in a 2015 game at Arizona.
In 2016 at U.S. Bank Stadium, he rushed 22 times for 103 yards and a score and caught seven passes for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Through five games this season, Johnson has 242 rushing yards and four scores on 74 attempts and 15 receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Edwards said Johnson poses “a big challenge.”
“He’s an excellent runner, he’s an excellent receiver out of the backfield, so those are two things we’ve really got to be conscientious of as we’re in preparation this week, and then go out and execute it on Sunday.”
DeFilippo on the final drive that helped Minnesota put the game away in Philadelphia
Minnesota built a 17-3 lead at halftime at Philadelphia last week but had just a 20-14 edge in the fourth quarter.
The offense suffered a fumble on its first possession after the Eagles scored a touchdown and two-point conversion, but the Vikings defense forced a punt after Philly took over at the Minnesota 30-yard line.
The next time that the Vikings possessed the ball, they protected it and plodded their way down the field, going 55 yards in 11 plays and 6:24. The drive that began with 9:11 remaining ended with a 52-yard field goal and whittled the clock down under the three-minute mark.
DeFilippo was asked if the Vikings goal was to kill that much time.
“Yes, that and we wanted to score. We were looking to score a touchdown,” he said. “We slowed it down a little bit. I wouldn’t say we slowed it down a ton. I went back and looked at it. There were certain plays that we snapped the ball with 14 seconds to go on the play clock. There were certain times we got inside five [seconds]. We slowed it down a little bit but not a ton. Obviously, we wanted to make sure that we called our best plays to give us a chance to at least, at worst, have an opportunity to kick a field goal.”
DeFilippo on being aggressive
The Vikings went from the defense facing a first-and-goal at its own 6-yard line to the offense snapping the ball at the Philadelphia 2 in the span of three plays. The sequence was highlighted by NFL Turning Point.
After Eric Kendricks recovered an unforced fumble by Jay Ajayi at the Minnesota 5, Kirk Cousins stood tough in the pocket in his own end zone and delivered a ball on the money to Adam Thielen, who caught the ball in stride at the 32. Thielen gained another 41 yards after the catch, streaking to the Philadelphia 27.
Cousins found Stefon Diggs for a gain of 25 yards on the following play.
DeFilippo was asked about being so aggressive with bad starting field position.
“I trust our guys. I trust our quarterback. I trust all 11 guys that are on that field,” DeFilippo said. “We are in attack mode all the time. We are staying aggressive and staying in attack. But at the same time, being smart about it.
“If you notice the protection in that, that was a max protection play,” he added. “We were being aggressive but at the same time, we gave ourselves the best chance to have that play have success at that part of the field. So yeah. Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs. You let those guys roll. Let’s go. What do we do? We came right back and got down to the 2-yard line with another deep pass. We’ve covered, I’m not very good at math, but that’s 93 yards in two plays. It gives our team a lot of confidence in my opinion.”
Priefer on Bailey’s 52-yard kick
Dan Bailey was 3-for-5 on field goals in Philadelphia, but he left no doubt on the 52-yarder that put Minnesota up by two scores.
Priefer was asked about Bailey’s resolve and credited great protection, snap, hold and kick on the play.
“Glad Dan was our kicker at the end of the game where, when Coach [Mike] Zimmer asked me, ‘Hey, can he make it?’, we got it. It was a great call by Coach [John] DeFilippo how we got third-and-long, we got it to fourth-and-manageable where we got a 52-yard field goal instead of 58-yard field goal. I would not have recommended a 58-yarder there just because it was a six-point game, but the 52, he’s got to go out and make it, and I was fully confident that he would go out and do that.
“I thought we protected well all day,” Priefer added. “For the most part, the snap and hold were good. On the first one, it was not, which is one of the reasons why he missed it. Now, if you ask Dan, he knows he should have made that. The second one he missed, he pushed it right, and hopefully that’s out of our system. We can came back yesterday in practice, and he was 22-of-22.”
Priefer on Arizona’s special teams
Arizona’s special teams include 20-year veteran kicker Phil Dawson and punter Andy Lee, who is in his 15th season. They also include a mixture of young and old on their coverage units, Priefer said.
“They’re very talented, they’re very fast, they play hard, they’re well coached,” Preifer said. “We’ve got to understand that we’ve got to match their speed, we’ve got to play as physical as Arizona will on Sunday, and we’ve got our work cut out for us. I know I say that a lot, but these guys are good. They’ve got older specialists. They’ve got a lot of young, a lot of college free agents, rookies that play hard, and then they’ve sprinkled in some veterans that play hard. We’ve got to match that speed and intensity on Sunday. We’ve got to have a great sense of urgency on Sunday in order to win this game.”
View practice images from Thursday, October 11 at the TCO Performance Center.