Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo
Huge game for us on the road Sunday night. Playing in the division, the Bears defense is very, very good. They have speed and size, all over the field. They’re well coached and they create a ton of turnovers. We are going to have to do a great job in protection to win this football game. It is going to start up front for us to have success.
Q: How much different with Khalil Mack and the entire Bears defense of a challenge is this?
A: We’ve, I don’t want to say fortunate, but we’ve faced some elite pass rushers so far this season. Seems like every week we’ve got one. I think our plan on how to handle it has been somewhat solid. It’s been somewhat solid. We haven’t been perfect, but we’ve been pretty good. Khalil is obviously, I know him on a personal level because I was in Oakland when we drafted him. I know him up close and personal how good he is and how good his skillset is. We have our hands full.
Q: Do you anticipate Dalvin Cook being full go or is he still on a snap count?
A: To us, Dalvin is full go. To us, Dalvin is full go. Obviously you are going to see how the game is played out and those things. But Dalvin is anticipating on being full go.
Q: How does coming from a similar coaching tree with Matt Nagy and seeing that offensive concept with what Andy Reid has done in Kansas City grow throughout the league?
A: Matt and I have played against each other in college. We’ve been friends for a long time. He is a great guy and a great coach. We are both from Pennsylvania as well so he is a great guy. I think you are seeing a lot of those concepts spread around the league now. I think you are just always looking for innovative ways to move the football and different ways to put your playmakers in space. Whether it is old school west coast, whether it is new school spread offense, I think you are always looking for creative ways to put your playmakers in space. Those guys are doing a heck of a job with it. I think you saw that trickle over with some of the things we did in Philadelphia. Obviously with Coach Reid and Coach [Doug] Pederson’s relationship with Coach Reid. Those guys are doing a great job and I think you’re just seeing it because it puts your best playmakers in space.
Q: What are the adjustments for you when they move Khalil Mack around?
A: That is the number one thing we need to see is, “Where is he?” We are going to have ways to protect both sides. I don’t want to get too much into scheme before the game but I think our plan will be solid. I know our plan will be solid.
Q: How do you create your schemes without having a complete influence from one coach?
A: Each situation, each team is very unique because the guys on your team have different skillsets than the guys in Philly, Kansas City, Chicago. I think the definition of coaching to me is putting your best players in space and doing what they do well. I think you find that out and I think you have enough in your arsenal to be able to do that and do it well. That is what we are doing here. There are some things that I really liked with what we did in say Philly or Cleveland or in Oakland that we did that just it doesn’t fit here. I think if you can wait through all those things, you can have a nice mix of things you felt comfortable you’ve done in the past and obviously new ideas as well.
Q: How much is it having a young quarterback and taking plays from the college game?
A: I think there’s some. I think there’s some. I don’t know if it’s as much as everyone thinks it is but there is some, there’s no doubt. What you are seeing less in the NFL is two-back football. That is what you are seeing less of. You are seeing 12-personnel. You are still seeing 11-personnel. To run the football on 11 personnel, you have to have an answer for that seventh guy in the box. I think that’s where a lot of this started and getting creative. How do we just block that seventh guy if they are going to load the box on us, which most teams do now in the league. It is a single safety middle league. Unless you are on third-and-long, very little two-high. Except some of those corners pressed teams where the safeties are basically behind linebacker depth. This is a single safety middle league, now. You have to account for that extra player and that is kind of how it started. Some of the RPO world, some of the you leave a guy unblocked and you read him. I think a lot of it has trickled up because some of the things of the guys in college are doing and also because this league has turned into a single safety middle league.
Q: What do you think about Ameer Abdullah fitting into the mix?
A: I am still learning him. I am still learning him. He had a really good practice yesterday. He is really, really fast and quick. He is really quick. He has great hands. I went back and watched some of his film from a few years ago. He is a really good player. The more comfortable he gets back there with our offense and when he can go out and execute, he is going to play.
Q: How much of a focus is it for you when Kirk Cousins speaks up about getting better in the red zone and third downs?
A: A lot. It is very helpful that Coach [Mike] Zimmer allowed us to really look at those numbers. Over the bye week, we really adjusted our practice schedule to accompany that. We got down in the red zone a lot. We had a third and four-to-six period. It was great for Coach to allow us to be able to get better in those areas and we do need to get better in those areas along with a few others. But those are the ones that do stick out. It was great for Coach to allow us to do that.
Q: How do you manage the risk of throwing the ball and teams stopping the run inside the 10-yard line?
A: Best red zone teams in the NFL have two things in common. Number one, they can run the football down there inside the 10. Number two, they throw the ball in the end zone. It’s not a dink and dunk. I am talking about even from the 20 in. So they throw the ball in the end zone. There is certain things and certain ways to throw the ball in the end zone, in the red zone. A lot of it is personnel driven. What I mean by that is there is going to be an extra player in there. When you watch teams run the ball in the red zone, it is usually the back runs somebody over, the back makes somebody miss. There is going to be an extra guy there. The backs know that and they have to be able to have that collision at the goal line. I think you are seeing that with us with Latavius [Murray] this year. Either that or make them miss. You just have to know that extra player is going to be there.
Q: How do you balance where to use Latavius Murray versus Dalvin Cook inside the 15-yard line?
A: We are lucky. Both of those guys, there is not one run those guys can’t do. But there are some that they do better than others. I think you try to concentrate on the ones they do really, really well so they see the hole. Whether it be we need a little bit more juice for the run or a little bit more power for the run. Those are ways you determine who is running the football. At the end of the day, we have confidence in both of those guys running it. We will get better running it down there the second half of the season, no doubt.
Q: What has Chad Beebe shown in practice that impressed the coaching staff?
A: It started back in training camp. It really did. It started back in training camp. You could just tell this kid understood football. I don’t know, he obviously has great bloodlines. He is a great kid. He doesn’t say anything. All he wants to do is learn. It started back in training camp where you’re like, “Wow, this guy just keeps making plays.” The more you give him, the more he makes plays and, “Wow, this guy can handle playing a lot of spots.” So he is versatile, the more he can do, we always talk about. It started back in training camp. As it got into the season when he was running against our defense, which is no walk in the park on an everyday basis, he kept making plays. I would go back and watch some of the scout team practice on Friday afternoons. That is part of my Friday routine is watching some of that stuff and he just kept making play after play after play. We are fortunate that we were allowed to get him up. I think you saw him in his first action the other night against Detroit and going in there and make a huge fourth down catch, a third down catch. He did a great job. I think the more he can handle and the more he shows he can handle, the bigger his role will be.
Q: When did you start to notice the separation Chad Beebe created?
A: I think just being comfortable in the offense and knowing what he is doing. He is just like any rookie, you have to adjust to the speed of the game and how the game is played at this level. Chad just was really a fast learner, a real fast learner. It was, I don’t want to say it was easy for him, but I think it happened faster for him than some other guys because he is a fast learner.
Q: What is it about Chad Beebe’s movement skill that allows him to get separation?
A: He is really, really quick. He’s got quick feet. You know the old saying, which I wasn’t sure I believed in, but guys that say, “He is quicker than fast.” Well, I believe it now. He is fast, but he is legitimate quick. And he is a fast decision maker. You saw him run that choice route on fourth-and-two and he made a quick decision. It was a big play in that football game. We ended up going down and scoring that touchdown. It was a huge play. He did a great job.
Q: Why is it that receivers are the position that end up being the late round picks or not drafted and become stars?
A: That is a good question. I’ve never thought about that. That is a really good question. I’ll have to get back to you on that. I’ve never thought about that but that is interesting. I think the other position to me would be running back. Receivers and running backs. I’ve never really thought about that but I am going to look into that, no doubt.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Going to Chicago, tough division game. Offensively they’re really doing a lot of different things, using a lot of personnel groupings. We’ll have our work cut out for us this week. They’re running the ball well, the quarterback is doing a great job of throwing it and running it. They don’t turn the ball over very much, so as we’re going through the week of preparation we’re trying to be conscience of all the things we got to get accomplished this weekend.
Q: How has the use of the RPO changed from last year to this year?
A: That’s the thing, it’s a lot more of them [RPOs] that they use within their offensive scheme this year. I think the quarterback [Mitchell Trubisky] has got a good grasp of it, a good feel for it. I think he did it his whole college career, so I think he’s comfortable with it. But when you look at teams, and especially in our division, a lot of them have been doing RPOs for a long time. You look at Detroit, you look at Green Bay, those guys have all been running RPOs really since we’ve been here, when you look at it. I think they’ve made that a part of their offense, I think it fits their personnel really good. They’re very athletic at receiver, they’re running back [Jordan Howard] is a hard runner up inside, or wide running plays with [Tarik] Cohen. It fits their personnel good, and they do a good job of intermixing it within their scheme of things.
Q: What’s the key defensively when you play a team with this much speed at the skill positions?
A: I think number one, we’ve definitely got to be very disciplined as far as our leverage in the different coverages that we run. Guys understanding what we’re asking them to do technique and fundamental wise, by formation and by personnel matchup. I think pass rush and coverage go hand-in-hand, and I think our guys understand that, how we got to rush this guy. For us, it’s more about making sure we’re detailed in our alignments and our assignments and are detailed about what we’re trying to get accomplished with each call.
Q: How differently are they using Tarik Cohen this year?
A: They used him a lot last year. Totally different scheme, but you saw his skill set to be out in space as a receiver, you saw him in the backfield with the toughness to run between the tackles, the vision to be able to bounce or cut back to get on the perimeter. His skill set, they’re using it in a lot of different ways. Rarely similar, he’s going to be a receiver now, he can be a tailback where he’s back there getting the handoff. In empty he’s out there isolated one-on-one. You’ve definitely got to do a good job of the matchups and be careful with what you’re asking them to do. This team is going to come in with new formations and new personnel groups, some different formations. It’s that way every week, so we understand that. A big thing for our guys is just understand what we’re trying to get accomplished defensively in the matchups and the leverage and the coverage.
Q: Coach Zimmer joked that Chicago has 800 different plays they could run every week. What is different about Coach Nagy’s scheme? What has he adapted and brought over from Kansas City?
A: I don’t think he was joking about the number of plays. It seems like it when you start looking at it. They have a different game plan probably for each team as far as how they match up defensively. They’re also going to add new concepts to what they do from week-to-week off of what they think could isolate you in the coverages and those types of deals. Nagy has brought in a lot of good concepts, whether it’s in the passing game or in the running game. The big thing for us is again, it’s more about us getting lined up and being able to execute our defensive call and knowing what’s coming at us, and then also during the course of the game, which our guys have done a good job of, being able to adjust if they’re something new that we have to adjust to.
Q: When you get that volume of stuff coming at you, how do you manage the week to get guys ready?
A: Well you have to prioritize what it is that you want to get prepared for. There’s some carry over from game to game, certain things that seem to carry over as far as the concepts of their offense. But for us, our biggest thing again is making sure our guys can get lined up, focus in on what we’re trying to get accomplished and aren’t so worried about everything else that’s going on. Because if not, you watch out, you’re lining up and you’re playing. Our biggest thing is when the ball turns over we want to be going 100 miles per hour, going forward with the front and the coverage and making sure that we understand the leverage and the coverage.
Q: What have you learned about Sheldon Richardson’s personality since he’s been here?
A: Sheldon has been an ultimate pro since he’s been here, with his work habits and the things that he brings to the table with his skill set. He’s bought in to what we’re trying to get accomplished defensively, and he really has helped us a lot inside. Against the run game, he’s very stout against the run, you’re not going to move him off the ball. In the passing game he’s getting push in the pocket. I know his sack numbers aren’t as high as he’d like them to be right now, but I can tell you that he’s right there and the quarterback feels his push inside, which will be big for us this week with this guy [Trubisky] and the way he tries to escape out of the pocket. He’s been doing a great job of those things. He’s been unselfish, he’s paid attention to the details of what we’re trying to do, whether it’s our rush plan with the different techniques that we try to play versus the runs that we’re getting from week-to-week. He’s been a big plus for us inside.
Q: While you were self-scouting during the bye week, was there anything that showed up that you want to emphasize in particular in the second half of the year?
A: Yeah, we worked on those things last week and we’ll continue to work on those things as we progress through the course of the season.
*Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer *
Going to Chicago this week. That’s been a difficult place for us the last couple of years to play, not just the weather or the venue. It’s their football team. They are built to be a tough team. They are built for that venue, for that atmosphere maybe rainy, cold or whatever it’s going to be Sunday night. They are a good football team. They are well coached. They’ve got Mr. [Tarik] Cohen, number 29, who has kept me up the last two weeks. I’ve had him in my brain for a couple weeks. Great punt returner, probably the best one we face this year. We got to protect, we got to get off blocks, our gunner has got to show up. Our punt team we got to go make a bunch of plays against this fine young returner and obviously, we have our work cut out for us in all the phases, but that’s probably they’re best phase – they’re punt return unit.
Q: What would you rank the surface at Soldier Field?
A: Well, they used to keep it long. I don’t know if it’s long anymore. I know last year I think it was fairly short, fairly common. I don’t know if they did that for a competitive advantage for whoever the running back. I don’t know what the case was there, but at night it’s a little bit slick. Our guys have to be ready for that. I don’t know if it’s going to be rain, snow, mixture, whatever it’s going to be, windy. We’ve had cold windy weather here. We practiced outside yesterday. I took the guys out on Monday they weren’t very happy about that, the punter and kicker. Got them to punt and kick a little bit there, but they performed well in that atmosphere in that type of conditions. Hopefully that will bode well for Sunday night.
Q: What have you heard or seen this year about the surface?
A: I don’t think there’s any problems. I think their grounds crew does a phenomenal job. They always have. I know it’s very difficult. I think they replaced the sod maybe a week or so ago. You guys would probably know that more than me. I think they’ve always done a good job there. There’s never been bad conditions even late in the year I think they do a good job. I know they have high school games there later in the year, probably playoff time like right about now, but they’ve always done a good job with it. I don’t think it’s ever really been a major issue.
Q: Does Ameer Adbullah enter the mix as a kickoff returner?
Q: Could he be the guy?
A: He could be the guy. We have to wait and see if he’s going to be active or not, obviously that’s up to Coach Zimmer and what he wants to do with the roster, but we if we have his services available I would like to use him as a kickoff returner. I know he’ll fit right into what we want at that position and the big thing for Ameer is obviously, ball security and we’re going to continue to preach that to him. That’s been one of the issues he’s had in the past and I don’t think it’s been a major issue for him but like any young returner and to me he’s still a young returner – you got to emphasis how important that ball security is and along with running the returns we need him to run and performing how we need him to perform.
Q: What impresses you about his return ability?
A: Yeah, he was really good coming out. He was our number one returner we had ranked coming out of Nebraska that year. The thing that Ameer does, he’s got what I like to call – you guys have heard me say it before, running back vision. I mean he’s a running back that has that type of vision as a returner not every returner has that. I think the good ones do and the ones that are so-so don’t have it because they can’t foresee what’s coming. They can’t see it and I think Ameer has that ability and he’s got quickness and he’s got strength. He has the ability to hit the seams, he’s got courage, and I think you’ve got to be a tough guy to hit those seams that are going to be there, hopefully they’re there, but they’re going to close up pretty quick. He has the ability to hit those seams before they close up. I think he brings a lot to the table at that position.
Q: What kind of adjustment is that for a guy to learn how you block?
A: I met with him last for a little bit and we talked about it. We’re going to install kickoff return today. I’m going to continue to meet with him and kind of be in his ear five minutes here, ten minutes here just to show him a little bit of tape. I asked him what he’s been successful at and what he’s been comfortable with before when he was with Detroit and even in college for that matter. We’ve had good discussion. I think the mental part is not going to be hard for him, it’s just understanding how we block, what our schemes are – we’re not very complicated we just got to go out and do our job and give him those seams that he needs. Like I said, a guy like him because he’s got such great running back type of vision he should be able to pick that up a lot quicker than a lot of other guys should.
Q: How much did his special teams impact factor into claiming him off waivers?
A: I talked to George Paton about it and they obviously knew how I felt about it. George went back and looked at my ranking before he even came and talked to me, before we had our discussion he went back and looked back at the comments and ranking I had him when he was coming out of Nebraska. Obviously, that was a big sell for our guys. He brings a lot to the table as an athlete. We might use him on other phases for that matter. If he’s your third running back you need him on other special teams which he has not done, that’s where the training part comes in more so than as kickoff returner but being on the punt return unit, being on the kickoff unit, being on the punt team unit. We’re already training him as a gunner. He had one rep in Detroit. It didn’t look very good, but I don’t know how much experience he had prior to that in terms of practicing and meeting time with him. We’re going to keep working with him. You don’t take an athlete like that and just have stand next to me on the sideline. You want him out there as much as possible.
Q: Would it be tougher to rank college returners with all the fair catches?
A: Yeah. Kickoffs are absolutely, but I think the good ones, the good ones are going to say, “Hey if we have the opportunity lets go and return them”. You’ll know the good ones that are out there and if any college coach, obviously they want to win and they’re smart coaches. If you got a guy like Abdullah or guy like Mike Hughes come out of Central Florida last year, you’re not going to fair catch kickoffs. Those guys return everyone that you can, even ones that are in the end zone if you’re good at blocking. The middle of the road guys, maybe and maybe the punt returners. Those are the ones that are tough for us to evaluate because of line drive punt, the rugby punts, the high-short punts. They roll out 15 yards and then punt it down field. The punters and returners for that matter that are hard to evaluate that way.
Q: What is the worst you’ve seen the field at Solider Field?
A: I don’t remember. I know we’ve had two years ago or maybe three years ago it was snowing, but the turf held up really good. Like I said, I think their grounds crew does a really good job. I know that’s got to be difficult on a cold weather city. It’s like Green Bay they do a good job there too. Sometimes late in the year they might have to spray paint some of the field green to make it look good for TV, but for the most part I don’t remember the field ever being really bad.
Q: How do you prepare for the windy conditions going into Soldier Field?
A: It’s a little bit unpredictable, but what we do, and I have the specialist do it as well. They study the tape from all the games. There’s a certain direction that Cody [Parkey] likes to kickoff when it’s right to left from our bench – our tunnel’s right here and here’s our bench. Right to left he’d like to kick a certain direction, left to right he’d like to kick a certain direction, so there are tendencies that our kicker for kickoff purposes can pick up on. For our punter you can study their punter doing the same thing that [Pat] O’Donnell when he’s going one direction from the right hash he likes to kick a certain direction and the left hash another direction or whatever the case might be. We study all those tendencies. Don’t really want to over think those or over evaluate those and then on Sunday we’ll go out there and make our own adjustments from there.
Q: Do you still have the charts for Blair Walsh and Jeff Locke?
A: I’m sure they’re in my files somewhere. Are you talking about the old TCF charts when they did that?
Q: That was at TCF and not Solider Field?
A: They probably did it for all the fields, but I remember specifically the TCF fields. They went down there and did all these crazy studies, whatever I don’t know.
Q: What do you tell your kicker after he hits the uprights three or four times?
A: Knock on wood. I’ve never really had that happen. Put it right down the middle, maybe? I don’t know. That kid is a good kicker. Cody [Parkey] is a good kicker. We had him highly evaluated coming out as a free agent this year. It might be one of those deals like Mason [Crosby] had a few a weeks ago in the dome at Detroit. I mean you just have one of those bad days. I think everybody has one of those bad days. I hope Cody has back-to-back bad days to help us, but I think he’s a good young kicker and a guy like him, I’m sure they’re going to stick with him he’s got a lot of talent. It might be more mental. I watched that game. I was trying to get out of a honey-do list on Sunday, so I was watching as much of that game as I could. But I was watching that game and I couldn’t believe it. I think he was trying to force it and I think he was thinking too much. Once he missed the second one it was really getting into his head a little bit and it’s hard, it’s hard to bounce back from stuff like that in that game.
Q: Does Dan Bailey have a sense of calmness?
A: Well, I think with Dan he’s such a veteran. He comes in, he doesn’t over think things he’s just going to come in and do his job. The more he works with Kevin [McDermott] and Matt [Wile] the better he’s going to be. That’s not an easy thing to do to come in Week 2.
I mean Matt was brand new too as well, so now we got three guys working, and I’m not making any excuses, you’ve got three new guys working together. It takes a while to get that sense of calm, I don’t know if calm is the right word, but confidence that everything is going to be exactly how you want it – like guys would having working together two, three, four plus years. We’re getting closer and Matt’s working really hard as a holder. Kevin’s been obviously a solid snapper and his finger is much better. He’s been more consistent. Once Dan feels more confidence in those two and himself that’s going to help him become a more consistent kicker for us. I think he’s done a great job so far for us.
Q: Is there any miss that has worried you?
A: The wind stopped when he hit that one [at New York Jets]. He wouldn’t change the way he hit it, he told me that. I think he’s told you guys that as well. I think the only one is maybe the Philly one when it hit the left upright and there may have been other factors other than just a kick there. I think Dan’s a pro. We went out yesterday and I think he hit all but one, the wind blew it and it hit the left upright. He was like 15/16 outside yesterday. He had a great day. Today we’ll go outside again. He’ll warm up inside and come outside and we’ll have a field goal period with our whole unit today and then we’ll kick some more on the side and be ready to go.
Q: Do you back and watch the trick plays with Bryce Callahan?
A: Yeah, the funny thing, you can ask our guys I’m still mad about that one honestly. We had talked about that every time we played Chicago. We talked about that play. They had run that type of play two other times in the last four years and we show them those clips all the time. Saturday night before that game last year in late December we talked about that, “Fellas, they’re going to pull out all the stops here we got to be ready for everything including this type of play we call a bluff play. Bryce did a great job, snuck off the sideline. We should have seen it, we were prepared for it, we had practiced against it and our guys got to execute better. They’ve already done it this year too. You can tell their special teams coordinator. I know. It’s a new special teams coordinator and they’ve already tried one. They tried one earlier in the year. On a plus 50 situation and he kind of just drifts over. We’ve got to do a great job of finding the football. We’ve got to do our job and we got to snap, we got to punt well, we got to protect well, we’ve got to cover well, we’ve got go to find the football, we’ve got to take away fake punts. We got caught on it against Detroit. A fake punt we practiced all week and our right end didn’t do a good enough job of setting the edge and we should of stopped it. Those are the things that frustrate me when you cover them over and over and over again and you don’t’ stop them. That’s hard for me as a coach to watch, but it’s ultimately my responsibility. Apparently we didn’t cover it enough, but we’ve covered it all week and we’re going to keep covering it the rest of the year and we’re going to stop anybody’s fake hopefully. Not only by scheme, but by doing our job and doing our techniques right and understanding and having great awareness of what the play is.
Q: How much time do you spend on trick plays during the week?
A: It depends on the coach. This coach coming from Cleveland he had a lot of trick plays, surprise onsides. He’s done it all and we need to be prepared for that type stuff. Other coaches don’t do it as much, but you still kind of have an awareness. You never want to forget about that stuff because you never know when they might throw a fake punt, fake field goal, surprise onside kick, whatever the case may be. Always aware of that, but when you play certain coaches you’re specific in covering those type of plays.