Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski
Good to see everybody. Big challenge this week, heading back to Seattle. Have a ton of respect for their players, their coaches. They do a heck of a job out there, so I think our guys know that this is a big week of preparation. We had a nice day today and then get another day tomorrow, then get on the plane. A big week, but I think our guys will be up for the challenge.
Q: What is it about that stadium that makes communication difficult?
A: It's really loud, which is impressive for an open-air building to be as loud as it is. Their fans do a great job, so we've practiced with the crowd noise in here and will continue to do that. Like you said, communication is at a premium, and the guys need to do a great job in the huddle and the quarterback really needs to annunciate and make eye contact with the players. And then on the sideline, we have to have the correct personnel's going in and out. It's really just being aware of it, and then knowing that's what it's going to be and focusing on our job.
Q: What makes Seattle successful in creating turnovers?
A: They obviously stress it. I know that's one of the things with Coach (Pete) Carroll's defense, they're all about the ball. They work really hard at stripping at it, they work hard at getting hands on it. So conversely, we work real hard on being about our business when it comes to techniques. So anyone who's carrying the ball, whether it's a tight end, running back, wide receiver or the quarterback in the pocket, using proper technique, having two hands on the ball. And then just having an awareness of if it's a zone defense, oftentimes, and they got their eyes on the quarterback. So it does present a challenge, but it is something that we have to work on really hard this week.
Q: What does potentially getting Adam Thielen back do for the offense, and what is the additional benefit of other players stepping up in Adam Thielen's absence?
A: I think all of our guys do a nice job of coming in here, and are ready to contribute in any way, shape or form. I think you've seen some young guys step up, and we've asked a lot of them. Certainly a guy of Adam's caliber, if you add him to the mix, is certainly somebody that we're excited about what he can do. We'll see where it goes over the next couple of days, but it's no different from a preparation standpoint for our young players, our backups that have to be ready to roll in any case.
Q: Coming into the season, how big of a fan of multiple tight end packages where you, and has the success that you've had with your tight ends of late made you more interested in them?
A: I think it's always been part of our DNA here. I think really what matters is the players that you have, and we're fortunate to have really good tight ends. So for us, it's about getting our best players on the field. I know a lot of teams aren't doing that, and I think that's your own team's prerogative based on who your players are. It's a really good room, a room that we're going to continue to count on, because what it allows you to do is have a physical run game and then it sets up some play action. So it does allow you some versatility.
Q: You've used C.J. Ham a lot in the main packages that you put on the field. How valuable has Ham been, not only in the run game but in the offense as a whole?
A: I think what it speaks again to is versatility and the way we attack defenses, and C.J. (Ham) is someone who is smart and obviously tough, playing that position, but where you can line him up out wide and bring him back into the formation, or keep him out wide, just gives you a couple of different things that you can do to make yourself hard to defend. And then C.J. as a player and as a leader of this football team, somebody who is in on special teams, just that mentality and that toughness fits what Coach Zimmer wants this team to be about. So any time we can put him on the field, I think it adds an element of toughness to our team.
Q: How much do Dalvin Cook's abilities allow you to sustain long drives?
A: Well I think Kennedy Polamalu does a great job of platooning those guys early, and we just got to keep 33 (Dalvin Cook) fresh as the game and the season goes on. Certainly a player of his caliber, you'd love to keep him out there every play, obviously, but that's not a prudent decision. So Kennedy does a nice job of rolling those guys in, and Dalvin has shown, and it's no secret, that he's a really good football player with the ball in his hands. So any time that we can work to get him the ball in the pass game and in the run game, you're going to have the ability to sustain some drives. But then again, that's where I lean on K.P. (Polamalu) to know when to ride him for another play and know when to get him out of there.
Q: Back to C.J. Ham, is he having a Pro Bowl season?
A: Absolutely. I'll champion all our guys. C.J. (Ham) is an easy one. I would just encourage people to turn on the tape. The tape is your resume in this business and I think he's got some really good tape. He's doing a very nice job.
Q: Seattle has three quality linebackers, how does that change the way you guys play?
A: I think they have good players at every level. They play their base defense to everything and it's because they have three good players. They don't want to take those guys off the field, and I can't argue that. I have a ton of respect, having played these guys over the years, how they go about their business, how they fly to the ball. It's an impressive group. Our guys have to be up to the challenge because when you go play Coach (Pete) Carroll's defense and the way these guys fly to football, it's going to be a 60-minute affair.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Okay, hopefully everybody had a good Thanksgiving yesterday. Going up against a tough Seattle offense this week that's really running the ball very good, at like 5.0 (yards) a carry. Their runners are doing a good job there. Their offensive line, they have been able to come off and get movement with people. They've been pretty consistent that way, averaging over 137 yards (rushing) per game. In the passing game, (Russell) Wilson is having a great year, really explosive passes in the early downs. They've done a good job of situational football especially in the red zone so we've got our work cut out for us as we're getting prepared this week.
Q: Coach Mike Zimmer mentioned before the bye week the emphasis on the pass defense and going back to some technique things. Where do you start when you're looking to fix some of the areas you weren't so happy with in the first half?
A: Well, the one thing we do is just do a self-evaluation number one of what we're doing schematically, what we're asking our guys to do technique and fundamental at each position, so that's pretty much what it pertained to.
Q: Coach Mike Zimmer was talking about how well Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris play back there together. If one or both of them is out, how does that change things as far as communication in the backfield?
A: It just happened in the last ballgame. We had both of them got to a situation where they ended up out of the game. It's next man up. With Jayron Kearse and with (Andrew) Sendejo coming back into the fold, both of those guys came in and executed pretty well for us last week.
Q: How has Jayron Kearse done at safety recently?
A: I'd say down the stretch, he came in and finished the game up for us, made some really big plays for us, especially matching up in man coverage on their tight end last week. He's doing a good job. He understands systematically what we're trying to get accomplished and he works hard at it.
Q: What has been the key to developing guys like Stephen Weatherly, Jayron Kearse and Eric Wilson who were late picks or undrafted and can step in and take the roles of star players?
A: I think philosophy wise, I think Coach (Mike) Zimmer and our position coaches do a great job of paying attention to the details of what we're asking those guys to do. When they're being picked, Rick (Spielman) and his staff do a good job of selecting guys with the skillsets that we're looking for. Everybody is on the same page that way. I'd say our coaches developing those guys from day one and realizing that, hey, you're just a play or two away that you're going to have to step up and play. I think our guys do a good job of focusing on what we've got to get taught as far as fundamentally and technique and not so much just overall scheme.
Q: When a team can be so multi-dimensional in its attack, where do you start defending it?
A: They're very good, like I said, running the ball and throwing the ball. For us, we've got to do a very good job of being able to line up and play good fundamental technique, run to the football and make sure we have good pursuit, not give them big explosive plays. The second thing, in the passing game we've got to do a great job as far our rush plan, going in against (Russell) Wilson, and then also staying on top of our routes and being able to finish plays down the field.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf
Getting ready for Seattle and getting ready for their special teams unit. They have really good team speed. Good returner in [Tyler] Lockett, good specialists. Familiar with [Jason] Myers from my time in Miami playing him when he was with the Jets. Guys have been doing a good job and we are just preparing.
Q. With Tyler Lockett's continued use even with his involvement in the offense, is he just so good and able to handle both?
A. Absolutely. They had two other guys doing it the last game who are extremely talented, 83 [David Moore] and 25 [Travis Homer]. We have to prepare for all of them. That is the biggest thing. Lockett does a really good job, explosive guy, great vision, great movement, can start and stop very fast. Coverage is an emphasis this week.
Q. Does venue concern you?
A. It's loud. Absolutely. That is always a concern. So far we've prepared for the noise. I don't think you can ever mimic the noise that they do there. Their fans get into it. The thing that we can hopefully try to help with is keeping them as quiet as possible. It's always an interesting place to play. They have an unbelievable fan base and we have to prepare for that. So do ours. We hear it every week just on the opposite end so that is kind of good for us.
Q. What is a self-scout like for special teams?
A. We actually try to do a self-scout more often than not. It was basically just updating it during the bye week. We like to look at our tendencies and see what we are doing on all the phases and do a good job of keeping our opponent guessing. That is what the point of a self-scout is and we do the exact same thing that our offense and defense do as well.
Q. How do you guard against what they can do with their field goal blocks?
A. We definitely have to prepare for that. We talked to our guys this morning in our meeting what to expect. It's really expect everything. Everything and anything. There are still jumpers every single week in the NFL. I think it is something that we have to identify before the play starts and just communicate and make sure everybody is on the same page and recognize it. I think recognition is the key.
Q. What is allowed with leverage?
A. You really can't create leverage by pushing off anyone. Whether you graze somebody, that is a different deal and basically how you start. You have to be on the line of scrimmage, you have to be legal, you have to be outside of the framework of the center if you are going to jump through that gap. With these guys, they jumped a different gap last year. We have to find who that guy is going to be and identify him. It's not a given he is going be in the A-gap. It could be any gap. We have to be ready for that.