Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Headed out to Seattle, tough road trip this weekend. Offensively they do a lot of good things as far as running the football, the play action game off of it, they’re excellent in the red zone. We got a lot of things where we have to pay attention to the details and go out and execute.
Q: What makes Russell Wilson so tough to defend against?
A: Well number one, he’s got the arm to make all the throws. He throws a really good deep ball, has a good grasp of what they’re doing offensively, you can tell that directly. Being able to move around in the pocket and buy time for guys to lose leverage down the field. We’ve got to do a good job in that area of number one, with our pass rush plan to make sure we keep him in the pocket contained, and we got to do a good job down the field covering the receivers. They start to scramble around when he moves around.
Q: What things did New England do to keep the pressure off of Tom Brady, and how do you look to now get pressure on Wilson?
A: I think you look at what they did, especially on third down. We got a lot of screens, a lot of runs, those kind of things that kind of mimicked what we got the week before. 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 two to four, running the football and those kind of things. This team is very similar in third and two to four, or when you get in longer yardages, they’ll run the football. We got to do a good job of putting ourselves ahead of the sticks on first and second down too.
Q: How does Seattle’s running game keep the pass rush off balance?
A: They’re exceptional at running the football. They do a good job with their offensive line up front, they’re physical, and they get to the second level very well. The running back has great vision, he’s able to see all the cuts. He can make all the cuts, he can get out of the perimeter, he’s a tough tackle for a defensive back. He’s got the strength to hit it up inside, those types of deals. We’ve got our work cut out for us in the run game this week, and it’s one of the things we’re emphasizing this week.
Q: How has their approach changed with the running game under Brian Schottenheimer?
A: I think you look at them over the first couple games of the season, they were a different team. I think what they did was settle down and say, “This is what we’re good at.” That’s what they do. That’s why they’re second in the league rushing, or 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.
Q: Seattle has one of the highest designed run percentages in the league. Does that make it more difficult to prepare when you know it is going to be a 50-50 split of pass and run?
A: Any time there’s not a high percentage, where you’re going into it as a caller knowing if there’s going to be a pass or run and playing the tendencies, that makes it a little bit tougher. But you look at all of their situations, they’re good at running the football. We’re going to have to really hone in on that this week and reestablish the line of scrimmage and do a great job of tackling.
Q: As a coach, what goes through your mind when you see coaches getting fired?
A: That’s a part of this profession and we all understand it. The big thing is that you got to lock in and focus on what it is that you got going that week. Really, it’s a part of our business, and it is what it is. I think we know what we signed on for. You don’t like it to happen for anybody, especially when you’re talking about a coach and his family and all the things that are involved in it, but you also understand that it’s a part of the business.
Q: Do you ever feel like you’re going to walk away on your own terms. Or is every day just one day closer to being fired?
A: I’ll be honest with you, I never have really thought about it. I try to stay focused on the task at hand from day to day, and that takes up every bit of my time. I don’t really sit around and think about that if I do this, this is going to happen, or if I do that, that’s going to happen. Really it’s just staying focused on the task at hand and looking at what you have to handle as far as communication with the players and getting prepared for that week.
Q: What do you think has been the key to having a better pass defense the last month?
A: I think it’s a combination of our pass rush and our coverage. When those things are working together we seem to be a lot more successful, especially when you start looking at the different situations whether it’s in the red zone, whether it’s in third down, the play actions that we were getting on first and second down. I think the detail that the guys have put into their work as far as preparation has paid off and has seen that improvement.
Q: Do you feel good about being to limit explosive plays in recent weeks?
A: That’s one of the things we’ve been working on continually throughout the course of the year and from week to week, looking at the big plays that we gave up early in the season and trying to limit those as we progress through the course of the season.
Q: What can you say about Eric Kendrick’s game last Sunday?
A: Eric did a tremendous job, which he usually does from week to week. He pays attention to the detail, he understands what we’re doing in the coverage as far as matching the routes. The break that he got on the interception was exceptional. When he’s in position to make a play, going to make a play, whether it’s been in the run game or being able to get the people in the open field or whatever the situation has been.
Q: What was the key to his career-high number of tackles?
A: I think it was a part of number one, what they were doing, and a part of when his number was called he was able to finish the play. That’s the big key to it, there’s a lot of guys who get in position and don’t finish the play. He got in position and finished the play.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo
Great to see everybody. We are looking forward to having the opportunity to play Monday night in Seattle. The environment is going to be great. It’s going to be really loud. It’s important to handle the environment, especially early. We are going to need to play really, really well to beat these guys and stay on schedule and do good things.
Q: What were some of your takeaways from last game after watching the film?
A: A lot of things. I think in the first half, I thought we were fairly balanced. We came out in the second half and there are a few things that went on, that obviously, I didn’t do a good enough job. We need to do a better job of executing. It was just a lot of things that went on we needed to do a better job.
Q: Do you agree with Coach Zimmer’s assessment of wanting to run the ball more?
A: Yes. I thought in the first half we were pretty balanced. When you take out the third downs and those things. But during that mock drive there were probably, I went back and self-scouted myself. There were two or three instances where we threw the football, like on that first-and-ten from around the 26, that we probably should’ve run the football. I made that aware to him 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 yourself and looking for ways to get better.
Q: What do you think when you hear that the coach and offensive coordinator may not be on the same page?
A: Coach and I are in constant communication of how to make this offense better. We talk all the time. There is certain things that he believes in and that I believe in as well. We are always looking for ways to tighten things up, make things simpler. But at the same time, make it hard for the defense. That is a fine line. We work very, very closely together to make sure that that happens.
Q: You came from working with a very offensive minded coach. Has it been strange stepping into a role where you have more freedom?
A: I wouldn’t say it’s strange. I’ve been in this situation before. Last time I was a coordinator I worked for a defensive head coach. I really enjoy working for offensive head coaches, defensive head coaches because they all provide a different way of seeing the game. I’ve learned a ton from Coach Zimmer. 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 everyday has made me a better coach personally.
Q: Is there communication on the sidelines afterwards Kirk Cousins has audibled out of run plays?
A: Kirk really hasn’t audibled out of a ton of runs. Here is what we have. I don’t like to talk too much scheme in here. We have what we call kills, which they could be run-to-run, run-to-pass, pass-to-run. We go into the game depending on the look of the defense if they are giving us a certain look, we are going to run the football. If they are going to give us a certain look, we are going to pass the football. I thought New England did a really nice job of kind of disguising what they were doing, especially on third downs. There were times we had a pass-run check on and we threw it. They got out and played cover-two. One time we hit them on a nice run when we got out of a pass and killed it to a run. You’re going to get fooled every once in a while on some of those kills, especially when you’re going up against a defense like the Patriots. Kirk has done a great job with those all season. That is not on Kirk.
Q: How difficult is it to pull the trigger on a run call when you don’t have an offensive line that’s established itself?
A: I think we’ve gotten better as the season has gone on. I think the last few weeks you’ve seen us pop some good gains. I think a lot of that has to do with finding some cohesion on the offensive line. I think that has to deal a lot with Dalvin [Cook] finally being back to, I don’t want to speak for him, but looking kind of back to what he looked early last season. I think as we go along here I think you will see more of that. Obviously, we just have to keep grinding away at it.
Q: Is the hope to increase the amount of time Dalvin Cook carries the ball?
A: Sure. Yes, absolutely. Obviously, 20 carries, that’s a lot. We try, we don’t always succeed, but we try to find Dalvin creative ways to get the football in space. Sometimes that is not just handing the ball off from the back field. Sometimes that is throwing him a swing screen or trying to get him out in the flat. We did that on first down the other night for a gain of five. If you are in the run world, it’s an efficient run. There are different ways to try to get an athlete like that in space. It’s just always not just from the back field. But yes, would we like to see him carry the ball more? Absolutely.
Q: When the Seahawks put eight in the box as often as they do, does that make it tougher to run the ball downhill?
A: Sure, it does. I think that you are seeing the majority of the NFL in an eight-man box now, or if you are in 11-personnel is what we call a hard seven-man box. 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. 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.
Q: Is a 50/50 split between run and pass realistic in today’s NFL? What do you view as an ideal split?
A: Here is the way I view balance. To me, I think each game is different. I really do. I am a firm believer in that. Each way you attack an opponent is different. I think if you just go in with the same plan to attack an opponent each week, I don’t think at times that is going to give you the best chance for success. I think you try to exploit the weakness whatever you view that defense is and find different ways to exploit that part of the defense. Just like the way the defenses do against the offense. If you are struggling against the blitz, they are going to blitz you. If you are struggling against cover-two, they are going to play cover-two. It is very similar back and forth between the offense and the defense in terms of each week is different. Balance to me is going to be different each week.
Q: What triggered the shift from having two high safeties to the single high look?
A: That’s a good question. Probably they just try to make you a little more one dimensional. I think maybe that is why you see some of the passing numbers up. They are giving you more free access on the outside to throw a six-yard hitch, to throw what we call an Omaha, which is a six-yard out. You’re getting some of those throws which equate into runs. Very rarely now unless teams are playing low quarters where those safeties are right at the line of scrimmage, are you getting a lot of two high, two minute drill some, yes. Sometimes in the red zone you’ll play a red two team or a red four team. Very rarely in the open field now are you getting a lot of two high safety. I think it’s the defensive mentality of trying to make you one dimensional. Hopefully I’m sure in their mind they have the horses up front to try to get after the passer.
Q: When your name is being mentioned for head coaching jobs, how do you handle the outside noise?
A: I really am very fortunate. I am pretty much in this building about 18-20 hours a day. I don’t hear a lot of that outside noise, good or bad. I am just dead set on doing my job right now. We have a quarter of our season left that is a very, very important quarter. For me to think of anything besides our football would be doing a lot of people a disservice.
Q: What goes through your mind when you see more and more weeks where head coaches, coordinators and position coaches are being fired?
A: I don’t like to see anybody get fired. I hate this time of year. I hate this time of year. Because you have a lot of good coaches that are your friends that maybe you’ve worked with or you work with currently or in the past that you see that happen to. What gets lost in this whole thing to me and I am a little biased to it because I was one of those kids. There is a family side to this thing. There is a person side to this thing that people to me, do not factor into it at all. That actually makes me a little upset at times. I was one of those kids. I grew up this way. I am a little bit sensitive to it. I don’t like anybody seeing anybody get fired. I hate this time of year. Absolutely hate it because it brings back memories of my childhood and the way I grew up. Seeing my dad in the paper getting bashed. I don’t like it. It is a tough time of year.
Q: Looking back at the first 12 games of the season, what do you think you need to improve on offensively?
A: Just consistency. Consistency in the red zone on third downs. I apologize for getting heated up there. I didn’t mean to. That one hit home a little bit. Just consistency in the red zone on third downs. That is what we need to work on. The thing about the whole running the ball thing to me is, a lot of that, when you saw us against Green Bay we were 7-of-14 on third downs. That allows you to have more plays. We were 1-of-5 in the first half against New England. I think we were 3-of-13 or 4-of-13 overall. It just doesn’t allow you to have any consistent drives. That is what we need to just keep always striving to do is just stay consistent with third down red zone situational football because that allows you to extend drives and extend plays.
Q: Is there anything you do to prepare your players for a wet, cold weather game?
A: You have a wet ball drill at the end of the week. To me, I think it’s like anything. I don’t want to say overhype something. But if you over, “Hey, it’s going to rain. Let’s talk about rain all week. Rain, rain, rain.” Our quarterback has played in the Big Ten. He has played in some inclement weather. He is from Michigan. He’s played in inclement weather before so we are fortunate that he can throw it pretty good with a wet ball.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Obviously, very big weekend coming up get a chance to head out west tomorrow and excited to get the opportunity to play on Monday Night Football. I grew up watching as a young guy. I would sneak out of bed after my parents went to bed and try to watch a few games over the years and probably got caught a bunch of times, too. Got in a lot of trouble. I love Monday Night Football. I think it’s exciting for the players, exciting for the coaches because it’s the only game in town. Especially the meaning this game has for both football teams, so it’s going to be fun.
Q: You’ve gotten a chance to see Ameer Abdullah take back a few kicks. What do you like about his ability in the return game?
A: Ameer has come in and he’s done a great job of acclimating himself with the locker room and the players and he’s a fine young man. He’s smart, he’s got great ability, got great athletic ability. 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, blocking schemes, 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. I’m excited about seeing him get going hopefully, a little bit more this weekend. We had a real nice return out to the 34 or 35 the other day, one block away from a big play. A guy came over the top and forced him outside late. The second one was okay, 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 continuing that trend, especially with our kickoff return unit.
Q: What was the miscommunication when Matt Wile was late out to Dan Bailey’s 52-yard field goal attempt?
A: He [Matt Wile] told me he thought it was third down. He’s just got to stay focused. He’s got a lot to think about. I just talked to him on second down and said, “Okay, we’re going to be in field goal range here. Let’s stay focused.” He’s worked real hard at becoming a better holder. He’s never been taught how to hold and he’s at times struggled with it, but he’s really starting to come along and Dan’s starting to trust him a lot more. We just got to make sure he’s out there to make sure the rhythm is good. I think that’s the only thing that happened. He still went out there. There’s 15, 16 seconds left so I didn’t recommend a timeout to the head coach and I’m not sure if he would have called one anyway. At the end of the day we got to be focused, we got to be paying attention on the sideline to do our job.
Q: Is it possible to evaluate a hold in-game?
A: It is hard unless I’m looking at it. I try to look at as much as I can. I try to go behind and look at all the protection, the hold, everything, but it is difficult and you look at the pictures, but sometimes it’s hard to tell exactly where the hold is. It’s even hard to tell on video tape and we slow it down here back at home. Usually the kicker will communicate with the holder if something’s a little bit off.
Q: When you have time to go back and look on film, how many of Dan Bailey’s missed kicks been due to the hold?
A: You know what the great thing about Dan is he would never blame it on the hold, unless the ball was oblong sitting on its side. Could Matt [Wile] have had a few that were a little bit off? Sure. They could have been a little bit better, could that have helped Dan put the ball through? Sure. There’s a lot of kickers in this league that have had a lot worse holds that have put the ball through the uprights and that’s the great thing about Dan. That’s him talking to me saying, “Coach I got to put that through.” He’s a pro and that’s his job, he’s paid to make field goals and PATs, kickoff for us and that’s what he’ll continue to do.
Q: Punters are being used as the holder more often than ever before, rather than a backup quarterback. Why is that?
A: Because of all the time those three guys, the snappers, the holder, and the kicker – all the time that they spend together, that’s number one. Number two, the punters have become better athletes over the years too. I think there’s been some great punters, don’t get me wrong, Ray Guy, Greg Coleman’s a great athlete. All those guys have been great athletes over the years, but they’ve really refined the skill because they work so much together. They have so much free time together, where the quarterback is always involved with the offense with game plan, practicing. There’s not as much time. If the punter is able to do it then that’s the guy you want to use.
Q: How have you felt about Dan Bailey’s overall season?
A: There’s obviously a couple you want him to make and he knows that and we’ve talked about that. Like I said, he’s a pro and he gets it. I think he’s kicked off quite well for us overall. 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. 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. Sunday against New England we didn’t play well enough to win to be quite honest with you. Was it horrible? No, but we need to cover that one punt that got 23 yards, we had a missed tackle it would of been a 10 yard return. Cordarrelle [Patterson] returned one to the 26-yard line, we had a missed tackle at the 20-yard line it would have been an inside the 25 type of tackle. So, little things that we have to continue to do get better. That’s been my focus all week, that’s been our focus for all six phases to be quite honest with you, and we have to get better. We have to do better on Monday Night to help us win.
Q: As a coach, what goes through your mind when you’re seeing coaches getting fired during the season?
A: To me, it’s sad when guys get fired during the season. I’m not sure all of a sudden they’re a bad coach or half way through the year they’re a bad coach where they were hired to begin with, either that year or a few years before that, whatever the case may be. That’s not something I focus on or I worry about. I know I’m going to get up every day, thank God for the opportunity I have to coach football, and thank him for having the opportunity to coach these young men I have the honor to coach. In terms of the other guys, that’s tough for me to look at or to watch because there’s a lot of good men that have lost jobs over the years. You’d like to see them finish out the year, but I understand there’s fans involved, there’s owners involved, GMs involved, the head coach is involved, obviously, in a lot of those decisions. It’s hard to me. It’s hard, I get it. I get where those guys are coming from, where they’ve been, and all the hard work that they’ve put in.
Q: As a coach do you feel that you control what’s going to happen to you or is every day you coach one day closer to being fired?
A: No, I don’t look at it that way at all. I look at it as a great opportunity to go out and coach. Whatever happens, happens. I’m going to go out and do the best I can and I know the coaches I work with on this staff do the same exact thing. We got a great staff, we got a bunch of guys that work really, really hard at our craft and I don’t look at it as one day closer to getting fired at all. I look at it as an opportunity to get a championship. Every year is a new year. You’re never going to know where you’re going to be one year to the next. I think that’s part coaching, that’s part of the profession, but like I said I thank God every day for this opportunity. It’s awesome.