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Transcript: Coordinators Addressed the Media Thursday

*Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards *

Another division opponent. Tough opponent coming in. Glad to be back home and be able to play them here in this last ball game. Offensively, Mitch Trubisky has had a lot more experience within their offense. Seems to have a better grip for what they want to get accomplished. Their running game is still as strong as ever. We'll have our work cut out for us this weekend.

Q: What makes Jordan Howard so effective?

A: His strong running in between the tackles, he has the speed to get out on the edge. He's a complete back. He does a great job with what they ask him to do. He's a good screen runner. He's good in protection. Like I said, he's a strong runner in between the tackles and has the ability and speed to get on the edge. 

Q: Coach Zimmer mentioned yesterday about Jordan Howard's play speed, not time speed. Can you elaborate on that?

A: You see him so many times, the hole gets cluttered inside and he has good vision and good patience. Then you will see him bounce the ball to the perimeter and then he is running by guys. I think that is what he is talking about. It's not 4.6 speed that we're looking at. We have to do a good job of handling our gap responsibility, getting on and off blocks and everybody running to the football.

Q: How often does that happen where you watch a guy run a 40 or watch him in a combine drill and the speed showed on film looks different?

A: It happens. It does happen. It's different game speed and different guys. They may have something wrong with them that day that they got timed or whatever. A lot of times going by the tape is the best judge of what type of runner he is.

Q: What did you see that was so effective with the defense holding opponents on fourth downs?

A: I think certain teams have certain tendencies and using their personnel in certain ways. Our guys did a good job of studying their tendencies that week and were able to go out and execute it during the game. 

Q: Chicago opened up the trick play book the last time you played them. Is that something you always expect from this Bears team?

A: Yes, they've got some things that have gotten us in the past that they haven't shown coming into our game. We have to pay attention to the details and play the rules of the coverages and things that we have. Like I said, it will be a true test for our guys. They'll have to really focus in. They've been doing a good job thus far as far as their preparation. We have to finish strong here going into the game before they can line up and play fast.

Q: When Harrison Smith has a game like Green Bay, do you see that early that you just know if he starts a game that way it's going to get better and better?

A: I think Harrison Smith is one of the most consistent players that we have. The one thing you can count on, you know what you're getting every day with him. His preparation going into a football game is going to allow him to line up and decipher what they're doing and also be able to communicate with other guys what to anticipate and what is going on. I think he is one of the best safeties around. What he brings to the table is definitely a benefit for us. 

Q: What does it mean to finally get a shutout for the first time in 23 years?

A: That's great. It's credit to our guys. They really worked their butts off for preparation for that game. Dealt with the elements, dealt with the adjustments that we had to make and went out and executed. I'm happy for those guys to be able to go out and do it. 

Q: What do you think of now being number one in the league in total defense and scoring defense?

A: We've heard but our focus and concentration right now is solely on getting ready for Chicago because we know we've got to go get this running game stopped and be able to contain them in the passing game. We've got our work cut out for us this week. 

*Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer   *

Hope everybody is doing well. Hope everybody had a great Christmas. In terms of the Green Bay game, obviously, David Morgan did a great job stepping up. I'm real proud of him and really a lot of guys stepped up. The guards on punt team had to help David in protection and guards on the field goal protection team had to help him in the field goal protection. The holder and kicker did a great job and obviously [Ryan] Quigley did a great job as the punter too. A lot of people had to step up for us to help us be successful when Kevin [McDermott] went down with that injury.

Q: Have you had David Morgan practice long snapping before this?

A: We tried him out last year when he first got here. We always try the rookie tight ends, maybe the defensive ends if they have any prior experience. He was pretty bad when he first got here, but he's really worked hard at it. We started him up again in this spring. Because in the past I've had Chad Greenway could snap, obviously before him Jared Allen could snap. Audie Cole was a good snapper, he was always a backup. Probably people didn't know that but he would have been the next guy in. But David this year was our guy because we lost the other guys and then Blake Bell came in and did a nice job for us. And he would have been the next guy in, so he (David Morgan) kind of got more reps in starting a couple weeks ago. But he was always kind of on the depth chart and we've been working with him ever since. Really Kevin McDermott deserves a lot of the credit because works with him every Thursday, like he did it again today. That was huge for us. I told him at halftime and he didn't even bat an eye. He was ready to roll. Came out the first few snaps coming out of halftime we were a little bit squirrely and maybe a little bit nervous, but we moved Ryan [Quigley] up about a yard or so and just told him to focus on the snap and the protection will come second. And then the field goal snaps were as good as can be expected.

Q: With tight ends and defensive ends, is it because they're big enough to get ahead of the block?

A: Yes, the body type. Nick Easton would have been an option for us as a field goal snapper because he's done that before. Of course he got hurt, so we were kind of down there. But, it worked out really well and I'm proud of everybody and how we reacted and really in a tight game like that we needed as many good snaps as we could possibly get.

Q: Do you anticipate Kevin McDermott being back and ready to go for the playoffs?

A: I don't know about that. They've told me he has a chance and other than that we're going to go business as usual with a new snapper and go as long as we need to go with Jeff [Overbaugh] and he'll do a great job for us. When Kevin is ready, he'll be ready.

Q: What led you to choose Jeff Overbaugh?

A: I just think he had a little bit more consistent workout. I think Justin [Drescher] did a great job as well. They were the two best guys available that we thought. In fact, George Paton and I met for about 45 minutes afterward we got back from Green Bay the other night. We were looking at the list and then we started watching tape on Sunday morning after the game. We decided those were the two best guys and I think Jeff probably had a little bit more consistent workout than Justin. Although, it was very close.

Q: Did he stick out to you at all at the Senior Bowl a year ago?

A: I did. I thought his accuracy was outstanding. We had done all the tape work on him of course before the Senior Bowl, like we do on those specialist that go down there. I just remember him being a very consistent snapper and I know that he's being doing the snapping kind of workout and a bunch of workouts. And that's a good sign too when a guy's getting a lot of workouts a lot of people think he's a solid snapper. I went back and watched all his games with the Rams in the preseason and one game with Chicago in the preseason. We thought he's got a shot. He came here and did a good job in the workout and he's had two good days so far. 

Q: What's the process for incorporating a guy like that? Is there one area that sticks out?

A: The communication is very important. The protection on punts is very important and field goals too, but it's not as complicated as punts. Making sure he's got a good rapport with the holder and kicker – make sure their timing is all right and all the things that they go through. They went down to the stadium and worked on for a good hour, hour and a half yesterday. They got a good workout yesterday, got some good work today. We'll work again tomorrow. But just the timing, the communication, the protection, the little things that come with the territory. The good thing is it's not like a receiver, quarterback, linebacker that has to learn a whole bunch of stuff mentally. It's more of the physical part of it and minor details and kind of the little things that we have to make sure we cover before the game on Sunday. 

Q: Does the most critical stuff get done at the stadium on Sunday?

A: I think so. It's the first time Jeff's ever been there. That's quite a building, so when you walk in there it's quite a monstrosity. It's a beautiful building. But we've kind of got that shock and awe, "Okay, wow. It's U.S. Bank Stadium." Now we're going to get work done on Sunday. That was critical yesterday and then today, with the team, with the field goals, yesterday with the punts, with the protection and everything. There was good tempo for him. Jeff had never gone through that tempo he said in punt protection and in coverage and everything. That was good work yesterday.  

Q: Kai Forbath nailed a 49-yarder in the first half. That was an impressive kick under those conditions. Was it imperative to get closer to the uprights when David Morgan was snapping as the game conditions took over?

A: Yes, I think a 49-yarder with David would not have been attempted. We may have either punted or gone for it on fourth down, but depending on situation. If we needed one at the end of the game, of course. But I told Kai, in front of the whole group when we had our field goal meeting and showed that tape from Saturday night, that there's not many kickers in the NFL, in NFL history, that have gone into Lambeau and kicked a 49-yarder in those conditions. I mean that was a heck of a kick and a huge kick for us in that game. 

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur

Q: How important was it for Stefon Diggs to get off to a hot start last week?

A: It's important, he needs to be involved in the game plan, he needs to get his touches. We were fortunate to get him the ball early. Certainly, he did a nice job on the touchdown catch as well. A very competitive, energetic guy. He certainly has meant a lot to us this season. So, we need to get him involved early and keep him involved throughout the game.

Q: What versatility does having so many weapons on offense give you?

A: Well, philosophically, I think it's important, number one, we run the ball well. Then that sets up a lot of different things. Obviously, you're able to throw the ball, especially play-actions, movements, nakeds and what not. It's also important that you attack the whole field and that you spread the ball around so that they've got to cover all your eligible guys. We're just really fortunate here that we've got a lot of skill players that can make plays. So, that's how we set this thing up. We've got a game plan each week where we can go in and throw the ball to any and all of them. For the most part, they've all done a good job.

Q: What has Case Keenum's mobility done for the offense?

A: Number one, people think first of his ability to extend plays, which he's been able to do. I think it's super important that you move the pocket for the quarterback. There's various ways to do that, we try to employ many of them. I think he moves in the pocket well, where he clears his sight lines so he can make a throw. Those are all the elements of mobility. At some point, when it breaks down and he has to take off and run, he does a good job of getting positive yardage. Typically, if you're going to drive the ball against these good defenses, somewhere in a long scoring drive, the quarterback has to do something with his feet. He's been able to do that.

Q: Would you agree that the strength of your offense is adaptability?

A: There's no question. I think this game is about the players and we're fortunate to have a lot of good players. Each guy does certain things well. So, we're constantly looking at and trying to focus on the things that they do well. I'll be the first one to tell you that I'm a big fan of plays that work. Typically, the players make them work. So, we're willing to change and morph and do what we have to do to run things that our players can do. It's a credit to them because we didn't just plop down a playbook and say this is what we're going to do. We're constantly changing and morphing, trying to get to the best plays that work against the defense that we're facing.

Q: How much has Pat Elflein meant to this offense?

A: Well, quite a bit. I have a huge appreciation for what a center does. I played the position and having watched it over the years, football is like baseball, you need to be strong up the middle. You've got to have a good catcher and a good pitcher. A center being able to obviously block his guy but direct the offense is critical. There's too much that goes on with regard to defense. He's got to be able to get us going in the right direction. You've got to be able to blink fast, make a good decision. If we're going to run off the cliff, we're going to all go the same direction. I think Pat is willing to do that. Typically, he's right. 

Q: Do you aspire to be an NFL head coach again?

A: I think I'm staying in the moment. I think that's an important piece. I'm not sure what a good hire you would be if you weren't focusing on the job that you have. I think that's where I'm at. I certainly enjoyed being a head coach. There's a lot that goes into it and I learned a lot from the first time around. There's time for that, this is not like college where you have to quickly hire someone and get to recruiting. We've got a lot of football left to play hopefully. That's what are focus is. If something like that comes down the road, you get to the business of hiring a staff and rolling. At this point, I'm certainly staying in the moment and worrying about playing and beating Chicago.

Q: Are you ready personally if a team wanted to interview you?

A: At some point, if somebody wants to sit down and visit about being the head coach, I can talk about a job that I've already done and about how I'm better since I did that job. That's sort of what the conversation would be about.

Q: Jerick McKinnon is close to 1,000 total yards, how much more now are running backs asked to help in the receiving game?

A: I think because you have to be able to catch the football at all the skill positions, you're seeing more and more and more where teams are utilizing the running back as a receiver. Lots of empty sets, a lot of running back primary throws from the backfield. Then, the utilization of the running back as a check down when you're trying to get the ball down field and you can't for whatever reason. He's able to do that where he's primary or he's a checkdown, or we extend him as a receiver. I think that's important and I think it helps you play good offense. Quite frankly, there's not much role for a skill player on offense if he can't catch the ball, the running back is no different.

Q: Would Joe Berger be the center if Pat Elflein can't play?

A:  Yeah, we'll just have to see how that plays out. He's our backup center at this point.

Q: Who would be Berger's backup at center in that situation?

A:  We're working on it. 

Q: Who else on the roster can play center?

A: Well, we're going to find out as we go here. I'll let Coach decide.

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