*Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf*
Hey everyone. Good to see everyone. Real happy with the effort that we gave last week, a good team win. Now, we're getting ready to face a really good Broncos special teams unit, very good players, very well coached, very good specialists. We've got our hands full this week.
Q: What's your biggest concern?
A: Biggest concern, just cleaning up our coverage units, I think. I think there's always concern with the coverage units, especially when you play against good returners. They have a couple good returners back there. They do a good job. They're very fundamentally sound. They do a lot. They're a little bit of a gimmicky team. They'll come out with a strange formation or something that you haven't seen before, so we have to adjust to that. I think that's the biggest thing that our guys have to get used to and prepare for.
Q: With Dan Bailey being a point away from 1,000 career points, I know that's something that he doesn't focus too much on numbers, but just being a coordinator in the league, what does that benchmark mean for somebody?
A: Sure, that's a great accomplishment. Think of how long NFL careers are now. He's put a good body of work together, and he's done a good job here so far this year. I think the thing that he wants to focus on, just like you said, is just making sure that he follows his routine, he's on point with everything. All the accolades and everything that happens afterwards, I'm sure he'll celebrate it after the season.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Just finished up practice here today in preparation for this week's game against Denver. The guys are locking in, trying to handle the situations we're working on today and keep moving forward.
Q: What's the challenge of getting ready for a quarterback on his second game like Brandon Allen? What are you seeing from him?
A: He played pretty good for them last game. Offensively, it looked like he ran their offense pretty well. Not a lot of tape on him, that's the only start we've got on him. In the preseason he was with the Rams, so we got a chance to see him operate within their system of things, but last week, seeing with the players with Denver and just some of the things they like to do with him. Very athletic, can make all the throws, so we've got our work cut out for us.
Q: Coach Zimmer said earlier this week that Denver's record is not indicative of the talent that they have on their team. What can you say about them on the offensive side of the ball?
A: The big thing is that you saw them last game, they were able to convert on third downs, they moved the ball on Cleveland pretty well. The running backs were a big part of it. They've got two running backs that are really good. We've got to do a good job in the run game, so yeah, their record doesn't indicate how well they're playing. They are playing pretty strong, and they're playing cohesively as a unit.
Q: What have you noticed about the different ways that they use those two backs, Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman?
A: You look at (Phillip) Lindsay, you see him in first and second down, you see him on third down out there. Both backs, (Royce) Freeman is the same way. They both have the capability of playing in all situations, so we got to be on our P's and Q's to win there in the football game in the different situations that they use their skill sets.
Q: What are your thoughts on some of these road games and the Vikings fans that have been there? In Kansas City the crowd noise helped force a Chiefs false start.
A: Yeah, I tell you what, we're very fortunate, and we really, knock on wood, enjoy when we've got that type of fan support, especially on the road but also at home. It's definitely a competitive advantage for us defensively, just feeling our energy and working together off of that has been a big plus for us.
Q: Mike Zimmer was giving some of the defensive backs are hard time on Monday about some of the near-interceptions they had in the Dallas game. What do you see those guys doing to work on their hands?
A: I think the big thing for us this week is we have to refocus back in and pay attention to the details of the different techniques and the matchups and those kind of things of what people are going to try to do to us. We've identified what some of those things were, and really just went to work this week to try to improve our chances this week as we prepare for this football game.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski
* Big challenge this week, got a great defense coming into U.S. Bank stadium. They're fourth-ranked overall, and it's for a reason. You turn on the tape, and it's really just an impressive group of players. We know the scheme, and have a ton of respect for the scheme, what Coach (Vic) Fangio does with these guys. Really looking forward to the challenge, and I'll take any questions.*
Q: How has it been working with Gary Kubiak? What have you learned from him this season, and what has he learned from you?
A: I think it's been great having him around. It's been invaluable to me, as this is my first year doing this. Having somebody that I can bounce ideas off of both during the week and during the game. And then on top of that, you guys know Gary (Kubiak). Great person, so in terms of working together I think he among all of our staff, I'd point out to every single one of our coaches, I think it's really a great working environment where we can get a lot done and respect each other's ideas and thoughts, and Gary is certainly at the forefront of that.
Q: How much does it help that he knows that Broncos defense so well?
A: We have nine games worth of tape on this opponent, so certainly I think we have enough to go on, but it can't hurt when you have somebody coming from a different team that can provide a little bit of insight.
Q: Dalvin Cook came into the 2017 NFL Draft with perceived character flaws. In the three years that you've been with him, is there anything that you've seen that could make you question his character?
A: That might be the easiest question I've ever gotten – no. I think the kid is outstanding. He comes to work every day, he leads by example. The way he works on his body with Sug (Eric Sugarman) and Uye (Mark Uyeyame) and taking care of himself in the meeting room, he does a great job. And he sets the tone for our team out here in practice. Nobody works harder. We watched him practice on Wednesday, and we say, "How is that guy moving that fast?" after the carries he had in the previous game. I just couldn't be more happy with Dalvin, the person, as a leader of this football team.
Q: What were some of the questions on him within the building? Do you remember how you guys sorted through that?
A: I really don't. I wasn't coaching the running backs at the time, but again, great leader, and for what he's accomplished as a player, obviously speaks for itself. But the way he goes about his business is really impressive.
Q: Is this the year he transitioned from just a talented player to also a team leader?
A: Probably, and for young players it will take a second there. You're trying to prove yourself first before you can take on that leadership role. We've talked about it going back to the spring, I know Kennedy (Polamalu) has talked to him and I've talked to him about his role on this team in year three, it's your team as much as it is anybody else's.
Q: He's a quiet guy. How do you lead when you're quiet?
A: I don't think you need to be boisterous or loud to lead. I think players follow your example. When you do talk, it matters for a quiet guy, like you said. But he's certainly someone that there's never any doubt to his work ethic, and I think that rubs off on his teammates.
Q: What are some of the keys to making up for the loss of Adam Thielen in recent weeks?
A: Anytime you lose a player like Adam (Thielen), and going back to Detroit you lost him during the game, that's why our guys are ready to be called upon. You never know when your number is going to get called. Sometimes as a backup or a starter, doesn't matter. You go into a game and you think maybe as a coach that you have an idea where the ball might go due to their coverage, and then you come out of the game and you didn't see that coming. I think all of our guys stand at the ready, and I think credit to our personnel group putting together the players that we have at each one of our positions. I think we feel strongly that we have a bunch of guys that can affect the game in a positive way.
Q: Coach Zimmer talked earlier this week about Gary Kubiak having a desire to see his offense carry into the future. What are the ways that you've seen him try to do that?
A: I don't know. I think Gary certainly is a big part of what we're doing from day one, and a big part of how I've mined him for everything he's worth. I think ultimately Gary mentioned this and I think Coach (Zimmer) mentioned it yesterday, I think Gary likes being back in the room, being back in the fight, and he mentioned that to us when we first brought him here. Having him part of that, I think he'd probably answer that better than I could, but I just think it's fun to be in the room with him, bouncing ideas off of each other and ultimately trying to put a plan together each week.
You guys kind of play with 12-personnel, utilizing fullbacks a lot and you have a quarterback under center. Is there a feeling that that way of playing offense, not an endangered species, but you see how rare it is?
A: What we're trying to do is what's best for us. I know what's out there and I see it, but we just kind of look at our guys and look at what we've developed here and we chose this identity. That's who we are. It speaks to the players that we have and the ability to do what we do, ultimately comes back to having a buy-in from the players, which I think we've had from Day 1.
Q: What are the challenges of preparing for a team led by Vic Fangio
A: Extremely sound groups, who you're not going to see many mistakes on tape. They do a lot, multiple fronts, multiple coverages, but they all complement each other. I think it's an outstanding scheme. Again, one that we've seen a bunch of times from our days going against Coach (Vic Fangio) in Chicago. You see on tape, again, a very fast group, excellent situationally, really good third down, really good red zone. The way that their different coverages, different fronts complement each other, I think is very impressive.
Q: What can you say about Sean Mannion's professionalism and the way he backs up Kirk Cousins? Do you think we'll see Sean as a starting quarterback in the league someday?
A: You never know. I've said this to a bunch of backup quarterbacks. The book on those guys is never written. For Sean (Mannion), I think he does a great job in that meeting room. I think it's such an important role. We don't take it for granted, the impact that he has on the starter during the week, during the game. I think Sean has embraced that role. I think he does a great job with the scout team. Certainly, someone that we're pleased we have.
Q: Is there anyone your age that comes from as many coaching trees as you do?
A: I don't know. I will say, I don't discount how fortunate I've been to work with a bunch of different coordinators philosophically, system-wise. To be able to do that, I think, has helped me tremendously. I didn't set out for that, obviously, for it to shake out that way, but I think it's beneficial to be in different systems because everybody runs the same plays, but the coaching points and the philosophies are just slightly different. I think it's been good to hear form a couple different voices.