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Transcript: Coordinators Addressed the Media on Thursday

Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards

Okay, division game at home this week versus Detroit. In preparation for it. Offensively, I know they've had some personnel changes due to injury, but they've really done a good job of adjusting and adapting, getting the most out of their personnel. We've got a tough challenge this week. We'll go out and get them stopped.

Q: Why do you think there's been that overall defensive slippage in yards allowed over the last few games?

A: I think a big part of it is as we've gone through and looked at it is that anywhere from mistakes as far as matchups, as far as guys not being where they're supposed to be, screw up in technique. A lot of different things. It's not just one thing, and so that's collectively what we're trying to do as a group is go out and improve each and every group as far as what we're bringing to it for that down and distance situation.

Q: You guys are 16*th* in total defense. Does that kind of sting knowing you've been in the top five consistently in previous years?

A: Right now we've got to play better than what we're playing right now. That's our main focus. We're not worried about stats. What we're concerned about is helping our team win and in order to do that, we've got to play better football. We can't go out and give out that many yards rushing, not getting off the field on third down and those kind of things. That's where our focus and concentration is getting better at each group for whatever it is we're trying to get accomplished.

Q: What has Armon Watts done to get more playing time?

A: I'll tell you what, he's really done a nice job in the run game. He's done a nice job. He tipped a pass last week that ended up going for an interception, so he's really shown an ability to be able to go and adjust and adapt to what it is we're asking him to do. He's been pretty successful with what we're asking him to do.

Q: What in your opinion went into the struggles against the run last week?

A: Again, I think it goes back to us not being where we needed to be. Sometimes it was run support from outside, sometimes it was out of gap inside, sometimes it was poor tackling. So, it was a culmination of things that went wrong that we've got to get cleaned up.

Q: What was your thought on the cornerback play?

A: Again, I'm not into evaluating or talk about evaluation of our players in the media. We've got things that we need to get better at.

Q: Coach Zimmer mentioned yesterday that some of the guys might have gotten out of what they were supposed to do in the run defense?

A: I think it's kind of human nature sometimes for us that, alright, a bad play happens and then you want to come back and you want to get better on the next play to make a bigger play to kind of subsidize what we gave up on that one. Again, I think it's a matter of us focusing and concentrating on what it is we're asking each and everybody to do. Everybody is locked in and on the same page for what we're trying to get accomplished and we're just working diligently to get that corrected this week.

Q: What do you see out of Detroit's running backs?

A: I'll tell you, they're rushing over 105 yards a game. I think (Bo) Scarborough, the new back 43, I think he's like over four (yards) a carry. They're both over 4.0 (yards) a carry. Our work will be cut out for us in understanding the matchups, what type of runs they like to run. Again, they've had one of the running backs out now, they've got him up and he's come in and done a good job for them.

Q: What can you say in general about what it's been like over the years to coach Harrison Smith with his consistency? It looks like he's maybe down for a fifth-straight Pro Bowl.

A: I'll tell you what, he's a pleasure to be around every day. His work ethic, his professionalism, helping, communicating, all those types of deals, allowing us to adjust to certain things matchup-wise. He's a pleasure to be around and glad we've got him.

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski

Alright, looking forward to the challenge this week against Detroit. A really good defense that we're going to be up against. We're really looking forward to getting in front of our fans on Sunday. It's a great feeling being out there Sunday at noon with our guys, with our crew having our back. I know our players are excited for that.

Q: With all the rookies that you've had to use, what has been the thing that's made it easier for that group to be able to contribute?

A: Speaking of picking things up, there's a lot that's involved in this thing. Fortunately, our rookie class is very smart. I think you can go across the board on each one of those guys. We knew that because we got in front of them, we interviewed them, but there's so much information that you need to get across to them in a timely fashion for them to contribute. I think those guys took the bit and I give a ton of credit to their position coaches. They spent a lot of time together and they grind on it, so that's the number one thing and then number two, speaking of having smart players, then you have guys that really love football, that love the grind of this thing. As we're speaking, there's a couple rookies out here still working. I think that's just the mentality that they've understood that that's what's required if you're going to contribute as a rookie.

Q: What are some of the things that we don't see that Sean Mannion and Jake Browning do to help Kirk Cousins?

A: Those position meeting rooms are so tight, and it's really every position, but the quarterback room, you only have three of you, so you're spending every waking moment together just the three of you. I just think they just have a really good rapport and Kirk (Cousins) mentioned it, I'll pop my head in there off hours and all three of them are in there and they're doing a group study session, so to speak. I think they challenge each other. Each one of them is very intelligent, so it kind of becomes a game of who can memorize the game plan more than the other. I think they just push each other and it's a room, though, where I think that they all are working very hard to make sure Kirk's ready and at the same token, that those two guys are ready to go.

Q:  Is it important that they like each other and get along?

A: I guess I'd say it's easier for sure. With this business with football, we're in it for winning and sometimes that's not always the case. As far as I know, those three get along.

Q: So far Adam Thielen isn't practicing this week. Did he have a minor set back?

A: I think we'll see by the end of this week, get through these practices. I think Coach Zim (Mike Zimmer) and the medical staff will huddle up and make a decision on Adam (Thielen) and really we've got a bunch of guys that in this week where we are, you're going to have some guys that are battling things and you're pushing to make it to Sunday. We'll see, but I think that's Coach Zim and the medical staff.

Q: Do you have to have a Plan B, Plan C more this time of year?

A: We do. You always sit there on Monday and Tuesday and you're working with the training staff on who they think might be available, so you're putting a plan together and you have a, "If this guy is ready, we'll do it out of this formation and if he's not, it'll be this formation." So, certainly something that we're talking about throughout the week and even on game day you have to have those conversations. Luckily, I have a really good coaching staff that can help me through that and say, "Alright, hey, we've lost this guy, now we're out of that personnel group. Now the next time you want to do that, let's do it out of this personnel group."

Q: What's the plan if you don't have Riley Reiff? Do you have to tweak things or is Rashod Hill good enough to handle whatever Riley handled?

A: I think Rashod (Hill) has proven to be very versatile. He's our swing tackle, so he has to be ready to go in on the right side, on the left side. You saw in that game he came in and I thought performed pretty well. Riley's a captain of this team, certainly want him out there. If he's not available to go, that's why you have backups that are on point like Rashod like he showed this last week. Rashod is certainly a guy that we've leaned on. He's came in during a game before. He's come in during the week. He's really taken the bit as being a player that is always ready to go.

Q: One of your former co-workers Scott Turner got promoted and is going to have an opportunity to call plays. What was your reaction when you saw the news for him?

A: Excited for him. Never good in this business when people are losing jobs to get an opportunity that way, that's not the fun way to do it, but any of us and you're getting your first opportunity to call plays, I think is exciting. I think you have to lean on your assistant coaches. I think he has a really group down there to help him out.

Q: Do you have any advice as somebody who was in a similar boat a year ago to being a first-time play caller?

A: It's like anything else, you haven't done it until you do it. You just kind of trust in your players more than anything and put your finger on the call sheet and call that play.

Q: If Dalvin Cook doesn't play Sunday, how much changes from your perspective with Alexander Mattison?

A: Yeah, I think you saw at the end of this last ballgame we didn't have Dalvin (Cook) and we're in a two-minute throwing session and not much changes, And really, that's the drop-off that we see at every position. It can't be much. We don't look at it like that. We look at it as our backups know the game plan cold and they're ready to go. Are they the same player as a Dalvin Cook? No. We understand that, but we're not going to limit ourselves and what we can do without any one of our players.

Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf

Just getting ready to play the Detroit Lions. They have a really good group of specialists, and excellent returner in (Jamal) Agnew, (Danny) Amendola, a lot of good special teams players, a lot of good team speed. We've been working hard in our coverage phases this week to make sure that we can try to neutralize those guys as much as possible. Clean up some of the things that we need to clean up, get our return game going a little bit more, and just kind of go from there.

Q: What are the coaching points you've worked on with Mike Hughes to eliminate the muffed punts that have occurred?

A: We've been putting him in situations actually in practice where's there a lot of guys around him. I think that's probably been a really good thing. I think hopefully the more reps we get in that phase, the more he feels comfortable, and I know he feels a lot more comfortable in practice. We tried to put him in some situations where it's probably not realistic in a game, so a little bit more contact in practice, and he's done really well there. Hopefully we just get a chance and the opportunity to carry it over to the game.

Q: How close do you feel like you guys are on some of those kickoff and punt returns?

A: The last game, all it takes is for one guy to miss his man. And then the timing and the spacing of kickoff return, the two opportunities we got in the last game, we were close. It's just that one guy, and that's the most important thing. That's what we've been stressing, making sure that all 11 guys are on the same page and how one guy can ruin a return, and that's just the reality of it. Our guys have been doing a good job. I like to think our game plan changes every week, and we keep it simple for us and try to make it difficult for the opponent. We're close.

Q: What happened on the fake punt?

A: That's on me. That's totally on me. I think I probably was trying to be a little bit too aggressive. Our players did a good job of lining up. I think I was just trying to force the situation where we should have probably been a little bit more conservative. We saw a couple things on film earlier in the week, I don't necessarily want to share right now in case we have to play them again, but I think we were trying to go after something and it probably wasn't the right time.

Q: Field goal kickers across the league are below 80 percent for the first time in 16 years. Is there anything you can put your finger on that's contributing to that?

A: I don't know what everybody's operation looks like. I know our guys do a good job. I think that's extremely important. That's a great question. I saw that stat the other day. As long as our guy stays above the average, I'm okay with that. That's everybody else's problem. As a matter of fact, we'd like to contribute to everybody else's problem. But we just try to take care of ourselves and make sure that our guys are in a good spot. I know that Dan (Bailey) missed one the other night, and it was a simple over-rotation with him. I know if he had the chance to take it back he would have definitely made the (PAT). He'd tell you the same thing.

Q: There's been more young kickers getting chances in the league than ever before this season. What are some of the challenges that new kickers, undrafted kickers might experience coming into the league?

A: I think it depends on what type of kicker you are. If you're somebody that watches the ball or watches the spot, I think it starts there. I think your timing, your tempo to the ball, if that's not consistent. I'm not talking about the entire operation, I'm talking about literally the kicker's tempo to the spot, to the ball. If that changes a lot and if that's not consistent, then just like a golf swing, it's going to change the trajectory of the kick and it could affect everything. I think it's just a matter of, and you see it too, I think some of the best kickers in the league peak at year 12 or 13 and 14, and I think that might still be one of the trends.