Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Just finished up practice in preparation for this weekend's game against Chicago. Offensively they've kind of struggled some, but the one thing about (Mitchell) Trubisky is he's still moving around in the pocket to run it, he's moving around in the pocket to throw the ball down the field. We've got to do a good job, a better job versus the run, then play good situational football.
Q: Have you seen Chicago lean more on the read-option?
A: Yeah, I mean they have. They've always run the RPOs and stuff with him (Mitchell Trubisky), zone reads with him, and they've built some passing game off of it. That makes it tough when you're talking about the run and the play-action off of it. We got to do a good job staying focused on our keys and playing good technique.
Q: You had some issues against the run in the Seattle game as well as on Monday. Were they some of the same factors?
A: I think it was a combination of factors. I think our guys understand that we got to clean up the technique and the fundamentals, we got to make sure that we clean up the run support on the edges, a lot of balls have bounced outside to the edges. And just in our pursuit, staying inside-out with our angles in the open field and everybody just going out and doing their job.
Q: How did you like how the young linebackers stepped up after the injuries that occurred during Monday's game?
A: Yeah, they did a good job of stepping in. Eric (Kendricks) went down during the course of the game, so Eric Wilson stepped in. He's played some in the past for us, last year he played quite a bit. So it's the next man up mentality, he stepped up and played, and they Kentrell Brothers, I mean he ended up having to step in because we had another injury late. Very good for those guys to be able to step in there and understand what we're trying to get done schematically, and understand what we're trying to get accomplished in the ball game.
Q: What is the biggest benefit of those types of reps for guys that don't get a lot of regular season playing time?
A: I think when they get a chance to get into the game when their number does get called, that they're not surprised by it and they feel a lot more at ease. Schematically they understand what we're trying to get accomplished as far as adjustments and those type of things, the matchups going into that week. So our coaches do a good job of preparing our backups, and any reps that they get during the course of the season, but when they're asked to step up and have to play significant time, we count on those guys to go in there and be able to execute.
Q: What are some of the traits that Danielle Hunter has that allow him to be a clean player who isn't penalized often?
A: I think the biggest thing is the physical attributes that he has, and then his attention to detail as he prepares going into each week. I think he does a great job and spends a lot of time preparing for our opponent from week to week. I think his understanding from week to week of what's getting called and what people are looking to call, the emphasis we go through when talking about penalties, and then just his innate ability to use his athleticism to pressure quarterbacks, be able to get off the run in the run game. He's been very solid in all of those areas throughout the course of the season.
Q: We've seen a cornerback rotation quite a bit in the past few weeks. What is the thinking there in terms of how that helps your guys?
A: Well I think it's been a combination of things. Mike (Hughes) is going in there to rotate. We've just been rotating those guys, we've had some injuries over the course of it, and those guys understand the rotation and stepping in. Nobody is really playing every snap as it goes. It's kind of like you get into the game, you have a rotation in mind, certain things happen. But no different than our linebackers having to step in and play, we're expecting our corners to be able to do the same thing. Step in, be able to play, make the most of those opportunities to understand what we're trying to do, situational football that week and go out and execute.
Q: How does Allen Robinson stack up among the receivers that you've seen?
A: I mean, he's got the speed, he can take of the top of it, and he's a great route runner, so we definitely got to pay a lot of attention to him this week. They move him into different spots, so we got to do a good job of understanding what they're trying to do with him in the different positions that they try to put him in.
Q: What can you say about the instincts of Anthony Harris this year, with six interceptions?
A: He's done an outstanding job. I think with Anthony, one thing that we knew coming out was that he's a very smart guy. He came off and had some injuries his senior year in college, but came in and just worked diligently, and every time he got an opportunity he stepped up. I think that's carried over, you can see him from week to week as far as his preparation. What you see is what you get out on the field, so we're glad we have him.
Q: How has Kris Boyd looked in practice this year, and do you like his long term potential as a guy who could develop?
A: Yeah, Kris has a lot of speed, he can get in and out of a cut. The big thing is that schematically, I think this is his first time through. So he's gotten better each week, and we just look for him to keep improving as he keeps getting reps.
Q: In terms of Mike Hughes, how tough is it for a guy that misses training camp to come back and jump right in? How far has he come since he returned?
A: I think he's come a long way. I think you got to understand he was injured last year, injured pretty much throughout the whole offseason. I think the confidence of coming back, getting started, it's different from being in the classroom and coming out on the field and doing it from day to day. I think that's added to his confidence, but I think his confidence has built throughout the course of the season, the more reps that he's gotten, the more competition that he's been in. The one thing about Mike, he's a true competitor, and he wants to do well and you can see that whether he's working out here at practice or when he gets in a game.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski
Good afternoon. A big challenge this week with Chicago coming into our building. A very good defense statistically, the personnel is outstanding across the board at every level with Khalil (Mack) and Leonard Floyd, the corners, the safeties. I know they have a couple backup linebackers, guys that we have played, number 44 (Nick Kwiatkoski), who are really good football players. Big challenge, and I think our guys are going to be ready for the task.
Q: What sort of issues did Kirk Cousins have getting the ball out fast enough against Green Bay?
A: I think there's a bunch of things when you look back that we could have done better, and I'll start with myself, that I could have done better. Those are things when we get back in here on Tuesday, we identify them, we correct them and move on. A host of things, but it would start with me.
Q: Are you speaking in terms of the game plan or the play calling?
A: Just in general. I mean, any time we don't contribute in a meaningful way to go get a win, it's my job to put our guys in a position to go make a play and succeed. I'm always going to be introspective in that regard, and I think our players, to their credit, also say, "What could we have done better?" I think that was a really good conversation that we had on Tuesday, and as we move into this week you identify those things, you talk about what you would do differently the next time, but then we got to move on because we have a game coming up here versus Chicago.
Q: Are you surprised that this happened in a key late-season game?
A: I think we need to look at the game critically, and I think you have to do that whether it was in Week 1 or in Week 10 from that standpoint, because in this league it's about that week. Obviously coming off of a loss, offensively I'm speaking now, where we didn't do enough to help the team win, certainly is something that we need to own and get to the bottom of, and really just have to move forward.
Q: Are you going to approach Sunday the same way as any other regular season game in terms of playing the starters the entire time?
A: Yeah. This is a big challenge, a really good defense coming into our building, so our guys I think worked really hard today, and they know that they're keeping score on Sunday, and it's a big game. So our guys are excited about that, and I think we'll see as the week goes and put a plan together.
Q: Is that a difficult situation, knowing you want to get some offensive momentum back but don't want to risk injury?
A: That's for Coach Zimmer to address. What we've done is try to put a game plan together to go play fast and have some success and really just worry about this game.
Q: What did you see from both Mike Boone and the blocking in the run game?
A: I think we had some opportunities for some plays, and then credit to them more than anything, hat tip to that defense who played us well. I think it's always a combination of things, it's never an easy answer. Certainly I thought Mike (Boone) competed hard, and that's the way we look at it, is we have a stable of running backs. It's never going to be about one person, so I think we're looking forward to again, getting back out there this week and giving those guys more turns, more looks at it, and I think that can only help.
Q: On Monday you didn't run many play actions. How do you do what you do best while not allowing the opponent to take that away?
A: It is a balance, and that's our job to attack that defense that presents itself. I think you mentioned the play actions, there's always going to be ways that we can do what we do best, regardless of the defensive scheme. It's a little bit of everything, honest, in that regard, but we just have to look at it critically, say what we would do differently the next time so we can put our guys in a position to go succeed.
Q: How much does the game planning process change given the desire to beat the Bears while not revealing what you could do in the playoffs?
A: I think there's plenty of plays. I think we're going to go put a plan together to go win and contribute, and there's no shortage of plays where you're worried about holding things back at this point.
Q: Would you expect Sean Mannion to get any work at any point in the game?
A: We'll see. Honestly I think Coach Zimmer will address those type of things as this week goes on, but I think whoever is out there, and I think our guys know that they got to be ready to roll, and that's for every backup at every position in every game. So Sean (Mannion) has to be ready to roll like he was two weeks ago and ten weeks ago.
Q: Did you like how the Philly Special play worked, except for the throw by Stefon Diggs?
A: Yeah, it wasn't the Philly Special. But going back to that play, I'm going to trust our players, and we didn't connect on that play. But one play doesn't make a game, so when you have the players that we have we're going to continue to give them opportunities to go make a play. Certainly that one didn't happen, but I don't think you can get discouraged and say you're never going to do something like that again, because again, talking about there's no shortage of plays. You're trying to attack a defense and make yourself hard to defend, so looking forward to a bunch more games where we can put our guys in position to do those type of things.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf
Just getting ready to play Chicago. Two really good returners. Probably the best duo in the league and working our coverage units and making sure that we have to be fundamentally sound against these guys. They can both change a game very easily and that's one thing we want to try to avoid. Very well coached, good special teams unit there. Very good fundamentally sound, so we've got our work cut out for us this week.
Q: Is Cordarrelle Patterson willing to take a ball out even if he catches it a little bit deeper?
A: 100 percent. 100 percent, yes. Yes. That's why we have to be extremely vigilant when it comes to our coverage. Our guys have to run by him every single play. Just because it's kicked 10-deep, I've seen times where he's tried to keep it from going through the back of the end zone. With him, anything and everything is possible.
Q: Do you think his size is part of what's made him successful or is it he's good and he just happens to be bigger?
A: Yes. Yes on both accounts. The thing about him is once he gets his momentum going, that's when he becomes really dangerous and you have to be so fundamentally sound. It sounds like a cliché, but when you tackle him, if you tackle him high, he's going to run right over you. You have to be really fundamentally sound as far as getting his legs, wrapping him and rolling. You've seen examples of him putting guys on the ground that go too high, they just bounce right off of him. Fundamentals this week is extremely important for us.
Q: Overall this year, how satisfied are you with your coverage units?
A: There's always things that we can work on. That's a good question. I like where we're at with our punt coverage. I like where our young guys are. I like where we're developing our young guys. I think things can always be better on the kickoff side. I think there's been a couple situations where before the half, we should have probably been a little bit tighter in coverage and I think that's cost us a little bit statistically. I think if you take those away, for the most part I've been pretty pleased with the guys and their effort.
Q: Where has Kris Boyd grown the most as a special teamer?
A: I think his mindset from what he thought special teams was coming in here. In Texas, he was a starter and he was aggressive there. We want to keep that same aggressiveness, but I know the one thing, I think I answered last week, too, is the penalties. We've cleaned up a lot of his penalties and just worked on his technique, but he leads our team in special teams tackles and he does a great job for us. I just expect him to keep getting better and better every week and to keep growing.