Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Just finished practice in preparation for Green Bay this week. A tough division game against a common opponent that we've faced numerous time. Offensively, they're really doing a good job of taking care of the football. They're doing a good job of moving it down the field in the red zone situations, so we'll have to do a good job of getting after them and getting off to a fast start this week.
Q: How has Green Bay's offense changed now that Aaron Rodgers isn't throwing it quite as much?
A: I think I saw that the number of throws are down, but he's still effective throwing the ball, he's still effective moving in the pocket, getting the ball down field. A lot of explosive plays, their running game has really come along. Those guys are really doing a good job executing runs, so we'll have our work cut out for us between the runs and the play-action passes, especially in the early downs.
Q: Matt LaFleur said in a conference call that the Vikings are a totally different team in all three phases from the one that played Green Bay in Week 2. How is the Vikings different then it was in Week 2?
A: I think as the season has grown, you start to see a common thread between opposing offenses. This is a copycat league, and you start seeing some of the things that people are trying to do to exploit what you do. We've had to adjust throughout the course of the season. That's what this league is, it's a league of adjustments. You look at them offensively, they've added a lot of new wrinkles as the season has progressed. It'll be a good matchup this weekend, and hopefully we'll come out and be prepared to start fast, because that was a big telling start of the last football game.
Q: What has been the key to your defense getting more takeaways this year?
A: I think a big part of it is we're emphasizing it more. I think our guys (are) buying in. The one thing is, from week to week we've been showing them different turnovers around the league and just making a concentrated effort that once we get there and we got the guy wrapped up, to go after the football. I think our pass rush being able to strip the ball off some of the quarterbacks has been huge. I think tips and overthrows, all those things we've tried to emphasize, and I think our guys making a concentrated effort and paying attention to the details have been able to come up with some.
Q: Is that something new this year, showing them turnovers on film?
A: No, I mean that's something we've used in the past. We've talked about them in the past. I'd just say we've probably emphasized it a lot more.
Q: Usually you'd do it on a Friday, but this week you'll watch film on Saturday?
A: Yeah, I mean it's a Monday night game, so everything is pushed back one day.
Q: What makes Aaron Rodgers so good at avoiding interceptions?
A: I think he does a good job of taking care of the ball. I think his mobility in the pocket allows routes to get down the field. Him being able to step up, and then his ability to take off and run. He hasn't run as much as he has in the past, but make no joke about it now, I think he's averaging like 4.5 (yards) anytime he pulls it down and runs it. We definitely have to be alert and be conscience of our rush plan and understanding what it's going to take to rush him and pressure him.
Q: Is this the best running game Green Bay has had with Rodgers as the quarterback?
A: Maybe our first year here, I remember that Thursday night game they ran the ball pretty efficiently. But they've been consistent all year running the football. That's a big part of what they do, a lot more play-action then they've had in the past. So we'll have our work cut out for us in those early downs.
Q: Is it hard to prepare for Rodgers when he has this kind of running game?
A: Anytime somebody is more balanced in certain downs and distances, it's a lot harder to prepare for them just because you're guessing whether it's pass or run. So we really got to pay attention to the details, understand what is happening in the run game, and then his play action passes off of it, we got to do a good job of transitioning into a pass rush and understanding keeping the leverage and the coverage down the field, because there are a lot of deep passes.
Q: The numbers between the two offenses playing on Monday are very similar. What is the biggest similarity between the Packers' offense and the one here in Minnesota?
A: I think that's with the common balance, being able to run the ball, being persistent with running the ball, and then being able to take shots down the field off of it.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski
Alright, good afternoon. Big challenge this week. I think our guys are very excited for the challenge that this poses versus a really good football team. Going to be exciting in front of our fans, Monday Night Football, so I think we're rearing to go. It's a division opponent that we know, but we played them way back in Week 2, so we really have to hunker down and spend a lot of time with this opponent. Really stressing with our players to get in their playbooks, study and really get to know these guys.
Q: How much more enlightenment do you have on the key new pieces they added in the offseason?
A: We have a ton of tape now to go back through, probably too much tape to pour over, but the two edge players, the two Smiths (Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith) are excellent, 55 and 91. They're going to give us a full 60 minutes worth of effort on Monday night, and I think our guys will be ready for it. Just an impressive stable of guys over there that can rush the passer.
Q: What do you think you're better at as an offense now than in Week 2?
A: A lot. It's everything. I think in any season, quarterly, you're kind of figuring out about yourself. I think there's things we know about our offense now that we didn't know six games ago. I think we're constantly trying to evolve and adapt and pivot and do all those things. I think you needed almost quarterly to look at those type of things.
Q: How is Kirk Cousins better now than in that first quarter?
A: He's playing at a high level. He's doing the things that we're asking him to do. He's the same guy walking into the building and he's putting in the effort every day. I just think Kirk (Cousins), individually, collectively as an offensive, I think the guys are playing fast. I think they're playing to their strengths, and I think you've seen over the course of the season, Kirk's play has been stellar. I think you can go across the board and point out a bunch of guys that have really rose to the occasion.
Q: Was he affected in any way by that play in the red zone at Green Bay where there were comments about him needing to pull the trigger?
A: I don't think so, Mark (Craig). I think as quarterbacks you learn from every one of those turnovers and they stay with you. You learn more from them than you do touchdown passes. I know for Kirk (Cousins), he's so conscientious he could probably rattle off every interception he's had in his career. I think he learns from all of them, but I've never gotten the sense that one play in a given game is going to affect him the next week.
Q: In terms of how much they try to take away the bootlegs in Week 2, how much have you seen of teams copy that approach?
A: I'd say it was somewhat unique. Week-to-week the schemes that you face are so different. This week's scheme is completely different than last week's scheme. I think teams go into it and they play their defense. They play to their strengths and then they also look at us and they say, "What do we want to stop? Do we want to stop the run? Do we want to stop this, etc.?" We'll see what their plan is. I think that's the fun part of this business for us is we have a plan going into it and then we have to be ready to adapt and see what they're doing and just kind of make sure we're unpredictable in that regard.
Q: If Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison can't go, does the offense change much with Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah taking over?
A: I think week-to-week what we do is put a game plan specific attack for that defense and I think that's no different this week whether you're talking run or pass. We have a plan to attack these guys, like we talked about, maybe have to adjust based on how they're playing you, but regardless of who's in there, our guys are ready to enact that plan.
Q: Do you think having to deal with Adam Thielen being out for a time and adjusting to missing one of those key guys that if Dalvin Cook is not able to go, you're offense is better prepared to handle that?
A: I just think it's a credit to our players. They understand this business that during the course of a 16-week season, you're going to have guys that are in and out of your lineup and that's the nature of the beast. Fortunately for us, I think our depth at a bunch of positions is really strong and if guys are called upon, they're ready to roll. That's been the story of this league for a long time. I think our guys have embraced that.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf
I was happy with the results from last week, a great team effort. Good situational awareness last week as well. This week we have a big week ahead of us. Congrats to Dan (Bailey) for winning another Player of the Week for the NFC, special for him. But I think this environment this week at home should be fun to watch, and I hope we bring those fans that we took over to L.A. with us back, and then some, because I'll tell you what, they made a difference last week. Hopefully it'll be a fun environment to see this week.
Q: Green Bay's punt return game has really taken off since they added Tyler Ervin. What threat does he pose?
A: He (Tyler Ervin) is a very athletic guy, and he brings another speed, really like another gear that the guy that they used to have didn't have when we played them the first game. It's important that we are fundamentally sound in our coverage this week more than ever. Every week poses a new problem and a new challenge, but yeah, he's an electric guy. They got him on kickoff return as well, so we have to be very smart in our coverage lanes and respect his speed and his athleticism.
Q: What impact have you seen Kris Boyd make on the coverage units?
A: I'll tell you what, he (Kris Boyd) is an unbelievable guy. He's come a long way for a rookie, he really has. I think he leads our team in special teams tackles right now, and he's really honed in his technique a lot. He's bought into it since really day one, and I think he's just gotten better every week. We've been giving him some reps, he's one of our gunners, and he's done a really good job. It's kind of fun to watch him and see what he does next, really.
Q: How much of Dan Bailey's consistency has to do with the operation as a whole coming together?
A: I think it has a big part. I think Britton (Colquitt) has done a really good job with the holds, and I think the guy that goes under the radar is really Austin (Cutting) as well, because that makes a huge difference. What he (Cutting) has done with his level of consistency is really good for a rookie. I look at all these guys, even the guys that made the Pro Bowl and stuff like that, I'd put him in front of anybody, really. I think he's beyond his years, he's an incredibly intelligent guy, and he's got the mentality you want in a long snapper. The best part is usually not talking about somebody like him, but he deserves the recognition just as much as Britton and Dan (Bailey), really.
Q: What is it about Austin Cutting's approach that seems beyond his years?
A: I think he's just very level-headed. There's no highs and lows, there's no peaks and valleys. There's no situation that is too big for him. We try to put him in as many different game situations as possible just to get him ready for it. He steps up to the challenge, really.
Q: What are your special teams units different and better than they were in Week 2?
A: You know, I think we had a lot of young guys. I think we've have a lot more young guys then in the past, and I think just developing those guys from Week 2 to where we're at right now is huge. I think that's where I see us the most, since Week 2 we've gotten guys healthy, we've got different returners, we've got a bunch of different guys back there as well. It really is a different team, and their team's improved as well. One of the key points I told our guys when we were talking about their personnel and introducing them, it's not the same team that we played in week two. They've gotten better, they're fundamentally sound, and they've got good specialists. We've got to be ready for anything with those guys.