Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Finished up with practice in preparation for Dallas, a very tough offense to defend. Very good running game, very good in the play actions. They’re like 50 percent on third down, they’re number one in the league. You look at them statistically, they’re number one in a lot of statistics. They do very good in situational football, so this will be a big challenge for us. We’re excited as we’re working through the week to handle those situations, and just look to finish up strong as we keep preparing through the week.
Q: How ready do you sense that Andrew Sendejo is to potentially contribute to your defense?
A: We think a lot of Sendejo, always have. He’s a smart, tough, physical football player. I think he brings a lot to us as a team, so we’ll just have to see how he does, catching him back up. He’s been away all season, so we’ll see where he’s at mentally and what we can do package-wise as far as looking at him as we progress through the course of the week.
Q: Is he healthy enough right now?
A: Like I said, we’ll just have to see how it goes through the rest of the week and make that decision as we get to the game.
Q: You guys obviously have a lot of familiarity with Randall Cobb. What have you seen from him this year in Dallas?
A: He’s done a lot. He’s playing slot receiver for them some, they move him out to the Z at certain times. He’s doing a lot of different things for them. Like you said, we know him just from playing against him for so many years in the division, so it’ll be a good contest with him, a good matchup. We just got to make sure we know where he’s located within the scheme of things that they’re trying to do.
Q: What do you remember about calling plays against Dallas three years ago, against a lot of the same offensive players that they still have?
A: That’s the one thing you look at them offensively, consistently personnel-wise, they’re pretty much the same. You look at them across the board, offensive line is playing tremendous right now, as good as anybody in the run and in pass protection. The running back, you can see that he’s grown and he’s been very consistent over the last couple of years. The quarterback, really impressed with Dak (Prescott) and how he’s throwing the ball outside, and his consistency throwing the ball. That’ll be a big test for us, and like I said, they’ve changed coaching staffs around on the offense, but very similar concepts to what they’re doing offensively.
Q: Is this the best offensive line that you guys have faced?
A: I’d say yeah. I mean, every week is the best offensive line we’ve faced, you know what I mean? But you look at them, both tackles are really good players. (La’el) Collins, I know he got injured for a little while, but he’s back. (Tyron) Smith has been tremendous all throughout when he’s played, I think he missed one game. Then you look at Zack Martin inside, they’re very good, they’ve played together for a long time. You can see the cohesiveness in the run blocking. You can see they’re on the same page as far as protection, so this will be a big challenge for our guys this weekend. I think we’ll be up for the challenge. Look forward to seeing those guys go out and playing on Sunday.
Q: When they lost to the Jets without both they’re starting tackles, did you see a noticeable difference in the play of that offensive line?
A: There’s no question about it. You take those two tackles out of there, that makes a big difference, and I think that’s with anybody throughout the course of any time you’re missing starters, especially the caliber of tackles that you’re talking about. You’re going to see a difference in what they’re asked to do.
Q: Do you think Jason Witten picked up where he left off after the year out of football?
A: No question about it. I mean, he came back in, got right back into his role. You look at him right now, I think he’s the second-leading receiver on their football team, so they’re getting him the ball, especially in the different situations.
Q: How much of an easy decision was it to bring Andrew Sendejo back, just based on the familiarity and his skill set?
A: I think that was the big thing. Familiarity with him, what he brings to the table as far as a football player, that we all know he’s a smart football player. He’s aggressive, and I really think he’s a good teammate and a good guy to have in the meeting rooms. What you see is what you get out of him, and we like what we see out of him.
Q: What about experience wise with special teams?
A: Yeah, that’s another avenue. We always say, the more you can do in this league, the longer you’re around, so him being able to come in and contribute in a lot of different roles with the skill set that he has should be beneficial to us as we move forward.
Q: Can you work him in any faster than someone who you’re bringing in with no prior experience with the team?
A: Well it’s very beneficial to know the calls, communications, adjustments and all those things, and I think his teammates will lend a helping hand with anything we’ve adjusted new.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanksi
Just had a good Thursday out there. Good second day of preparation getting ready for a big game down in Dallas, versus a really good quality opponent. Briefly last week, we weren’t able to get the W on the road which we desired, and we’re looking forward to finding a way to get down there and come away with a win.
Q: When you look at Dallas’ pass rush, what stands out about that group?
A: Very aggressive. They’re looking to collapse the pocket. There’s a ton of movement from their defensive tackles, from their defensive ends, whether with pressure or without. They’re moving, they’re changing gaps, but they’re coming off the ball. It’s an extremely impressive group talent-wise. I think the scheme is excellent. So we’re going to have our work cut out for us.
Q: With that movement, does that stress the communication maybe up front a little more than with different opponents?
A: Communication’s always so important. Knowing which way the center’s going. Is the guard coming with me? Is there a tight end? Where’s the running back? That’s paramount all the time.
Q: Does their defense change if Leighton Vander Esch isn’t in there? What does he bring to the table?
A: I’m not sure if they change. I just know 55 (Vander Esch) is a really good football player. He’s so active. He’s so long. He always finds his way around the ball, long limbs. He fits this scheme really well, and just a high energy player. Really that’s all their linebackers. You talk about all those guys going from sideline to sideline, it’s impressive.
Q: What do Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook have that is similar in regards to their styles?
A: I’m not sure. I haven’t studied Ezekiel (Elliott) enough. I just know Dalvin (Cook). Really pleased with where he is, talented football player, and I just look at a guy that while the numbers have been really impressive and will continue to be, hopefully, I just think the kid is such a good leader, such an impressive teammate to be around. I know he’s looking forward to the opportunity to go play and show what he can do.
Q: Is this a game where it could be a keep away game, because they like to run the ball and grind the clock?
A: I think every week we’d want to win that time of possession. We want to possess the ball. We talk every week about scoring any which way we can. If it’s a 10-play drive, that’s great. If it’s a one-play drive, we’ll take that too. Any which way we can do it, but ultimately it’s about us sustaining drives and staying on the field, yeah.
Q: Obviously Dalvin Cook can create a gain at any point of a game, but does it puts you in an advantageous position to get him going early?
A: Yeah, I think we definitely want to get Dalvin (Cook) going early. It’s a good problem to have. We have a lot of good players that we’re looking to get early contributions from a bunch of guys and spread the ball out among positions, spread the ball out among the perimeter and the interior. Dalvin’s never far from our thought process when we’re thinking about that.
Q: When you use a bunch formation with your receivers on one side, how can that unsettle some of the things the defense does?
A: I think a lot of times you’re trying to give the defense something maybe they haven’t seen, make them communicate, so certainly on different down-and-distance you may move into a bunch or start in a bunch and get out of it. Ultimately, there are certain plays where you can line up and go, and there’s other ones where you want to maybe show a different formation. Again, just make that defense communicate.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf
We are just getting ready to play a very good Dallas team on the road, Sunday Night Football. Important stage and been happy so far with the way our guys are practicing and getting ready and workings situations like we always do. Getting ready to take a good special teams unit on. They are very good at what they do.
Q: What stands out about their special teams?
A: Their specialists. Chris Jones does a really good job, very good punter. [Brett] Maher has a very good leg. Their specialists to start. They’ve got a veteran long snapper [Louis Philippe Ladouceur] who has been doing it at a high level for a very long time. They’ve got Tavon Austin and a very good unit of speed players which we have to match our speed with theirs.
Q: Is Andrew Sendejo a guy that will be able to help you right away?
A: I’m not really sure just yet. We have to see where he’s at with everything. I’ve only heard great things about him from him being here in the past. We are excited to have him. I think he will contribute positively in some way at some point.
Q: Do you mean in terms of special teams?
Q: Looking back to the Chiefs game, is that everything you want out of that last field goal block to get a hand on it?
A: Minus the block itself? Yes. It was a really great effort by Danielle [Hunter]. It was just an inch or two away from really being a full block instead of just tipping that ball. That’s disappointing but I love our guys, their effort and how they were into it. They knew the game plan we put forward and just came up a couple inches short.
Q: Do you get any sense that this game means something extra to Dan Bailey?
A: That’s a good question. So far, he treats it like every other game. That is just how he is. I think he would tell you the same thing. You are going to have to ask him. I’m sure there is some part of it that is special for him. He’s lived there a long time, he was there for a long time. I wouldn’t know just by the way he conducts himself through practice and stuff so that’s a good thing.
Q: What are you seeing out of Mike Hughes on the punt return unit and do you feel like he is back to normal?
A: That is a great question because you have to remember he didn’t do it in the preseason. Figure the games he’s been doing it, he needs those games underneath his belt just to get warmed up to it. I think he is starting to get there. There are still a lot of positive things he can do but I think the more opportunities he gets, the more comfortable he feels getting that ball downhill.
Q: How have you been impressed with Danielle Hunter’s work ethic since you’ve gotten to know him?
A: That’s a great question. I love that guy. He is an unbelievable pro. I’ve been around a lot of good pros. Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, a bunch of those guys in Baltimore. He comes to work everyday. You could tell him exactly what you want and he is going to do everything in his power to do it the right way. That is what you love about the guy. If I could use him more on special teams, I would. He is playing so much on defense at a high level. Every now and again we get to sprinkle him in there which is cool and he loves doing it. He is a pro’s pro. We have a lot of great guys on this team but that’s one guy I’d love to clone and keep making over and over and over again. I think every team would love to have somebody like him.
Q: Is it crazy to you that he just turned 25?
A: Yes. Think about the future and the level that he can even achieve. I think he is playing at a high level now but he is a tremendous person. Anything positive he gets he deserves from his work ethic. It’s a tribute to him.
Q: How do you determine when you are going to challenge a team on the kickoff and force them to bring it out?
A: I think it just depends. If we are inside, if there is a certain game plan, we might attack it a certain way. If we are outside, it could be the weather that dictates what we end up doing. I think in Kansas City the wind had a lot to do with it. We will try to find something that we can exploit. If it’s there, then we will challenge them. I think Mike Hughes did a good job last week and Holton [Hill]. I think we put them in the right position to help us create another possession for our offense after the half. I thought that was a big positive and we just have to keep building on that.