Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Just finishing up practice for the Chargers here this week. Offensively and personnel wise, (Phillip) Rivers is playing at a high level, as always. Very competitive, can make all the throws. Their running backs, they got two running backs that are really having a good year. (Austin) Ekeler last week went for 100 yards rushing and 100 yards (receiving). (Melvin) Gordon has been good for a long time, and has gotten back going for them. We'll have our work cut out for us.
Q: What are the advantages to rotating cornerbacks the way you did against Detroit?
A: I think it's a combination of things. We've had some guys that have had to go in and out of the lineup, and we think just guys have gotten better the more that they've been in our system and been able to come in and rotate and been able to help. That's been a good thing for us.
Q: As a defensive coach, do you like the feistiness that Phillip Rivers plays with?
A: Oh, yeah. He's always been a competitor. He's always been tough when we go against him, as far as what they're trying to get accomplished and understanding some of the things that we do. You're not going to trick him very much, because he's seen a lot of ball during his days. 38 years old, he's seen a lot of football. We look forward to it, I think our guys look forward to it, and it should be an interesting contest this weekend.
Q: What are your earliest memories of Danielle Hunter?
A: The one thing about Danielle that I'll say about it, no matter if we were looking at him when he came out of the draft, or in his rookie year or where he's at now, the one thing he's always been is consistent. He has a great work ethic, he pays attention to the detail, and does a great job of preparing each week for each opponent we go against.
Q: How do you instruct your defense when playing against a running back that can catch passes like Austin Ekeler can?
A: We got to do a good job of leveraging him in the coverage, understand what they're trying to get accomplished with him route-wise. Like I said, we have our work cut out for us this week.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski
Alright, good afternoon. Going on the road to California here against a really good defense. I'm so impressed watching the tape. These guys play fast. It's a physical group. They're good against the run, good against the pass and they really have very good players at every level of the defense. We're going to have our work cut out for us, and we've had a good couple days here, and then put the finishing touches on it tomorrow and Saturday and then get on the plane.
Q: As you watch Derwin James, what is it about him that makes him such a game wrecker?
A: Very physical player. He's down around the line of scrimmage quite often. He can play the run like a linebacker. He can play the pass like a corner, so a physically gifted player. What's really impressive about this player, is he plays really hard all the time. He's flying around there, quintessential ball hawk and he's got our attention.
Q: What coverage does Stefon Diggs face when Adam Thielen is on the field versus off of it?
A: I wouldn't say that it's always this or always that, but for a defensive coordinator, I'm sure when you have Stefon (Diggs) and Adam (Thielen) on the field together, it gets harder when they're balancing out the formation like that. Certainly, when you have one guy, if they perceive that they have one guy, which I don't necessarily think we do, but if they think we have one guy that can hurt them, it's a little bit easier to send a safety that way or rotate the coverage that way. When you balance out of your formation from our perspective, it give defenses a hard job. By the same token, that's why you trust your tight ends, you trust your running backs in the pass game and we've had some other wide receivers step up and make some plays.
Q: Is this kind of what you imagined in the offseason when you guys were building this thing that you wouldn't have that drop-off?
A: Certainly, that's the goal, and I think we brought in a bunch of really good young players to help us in that department. I think across the board from the offensive line, to the quarterbacks, to the running backs, I think we have guys that work really hard during the week so that when their numbers called, they're ready. Often times you don't know, it may be the first play of the game or it may be the last play of the game. I think the mentality that our guys have with their position coaches has been to really grind and make sure they're ready when their number's called.
Q: What would it mean to have Adam Thielen back?
A: I think we'll see as the week goes and see how he looks tomorrow and then Coach Zim (Mike Zimmer) can make a decision on that. Obviously, everybody know the the caliber player that Adam (Thielen) is and on top of that, I think his teammates love the kid because he just works like crazy. I think it's fun to see him back out here and working and if he is up on Sunday, he's another option for us, but we'll let that play out as the week goes.
Q: In terms of playing at the Chargers' small stadium, how different is it to the advantage of the offense because there's less fans to make noise?
A: I've never been there, so I don't know. I've talked to a few people that have been there. We'll after the first few series have a plan for going on silent or not. That's kind of once we get in there, we'll make a decision. It is a unique building with only 27,000, so I know we're excited to get out there. Bottom line is for us, we still have to maintain that road mentality. That's so important when you're playing on the road.
Q: Are there major parts of your gameplan that changes depending on whether Adam Thielen is out or in?
A: It's a little bit of both. There's certain things that a specific player like Adam does really well and you're going to do it with Adam (Thielen). I could say the same thing about some of our tight ends and our running backs, so there's some things in mind as you put a plan together that you really have him in mind for. If he's not up, you move on to the next guy and maybe there's a couple formations that if this player is playing, we'll call X formation. If he's not playing, we'll call Z formation. We're ready to move. That's why you have contingency plans. I think the coaches are on top of that.
Q: What does Mike Boone bring to the table compared to Alexander Mattison?
A: I think Mike (Boone) has had a really good year going back to training camp. I think he's worked very hard, maybe no player has come as far as he has. I think credit to the kid. Credit to Kennedy Polamalu on bringing him along, I think the skillset you in the preseason, you see a really skilled runner, a guy that can be explosive, can make plays when they're blocked well, can make plays when they're not blocked so well. If he's called upon this week, I think he'll be ready to go. He's another option for us like I really look at that whole stable of running backs that depending on Alexander's (Mattison) availability, all those guys have to be ready.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf
Happy with the performance we had last week against Detroit. A good team win for us, and now we're getting ready for the challenge of heading out to Los Angeles to play the Chargers. I think they have a very solid group. Good specialists, good returner in (Desmond) King. Just getting ready for them.
Q: What can be done to put a spark into the return game?
A: I think we got a little bit of a spark last week with Mike Hughes returning on a punt return. He had a nice return. It starts with the entire team, field position, making sure that hopefully our opponent is backed up as much as possible, giving us the opportunity to call a return and go on from there. Now on kickoff return, it's so hard, a lot of teams are kicking touchbacks, so we've got to communicate with our guys on when we want to take it out, the situation, where we're at. If there's two minutes before the half, it's got to be the right look in order for us to take it out. Just little situations like that. I think there's individual moments where we can get it going, but I do like the guys that we have in our return phases right now and where they're playing. I think they're a little bit more comfortable, and hopefully we get an opportunity to this week.
Q: Are touchbacks throughout the league up?
A: I feel like they are. I don't have the exact stats, but I feel like they are a little bit more this year than years past.
Q: It seems like returners are not bringing the ball out as often as they have the last few years.
A: I think you're 100 percent right. I think it's by a team-by-team basis, depending on who your returner is, who you have back there, how aggressive you want to be. Now when December football is playing outdoors, I think that's going to be a factor too. The weather is going to be a factor, and there's probably going to be a little bit more returnable balls if you're playing outdoors. We play indoors three out of the last four games, so we'll see what happens.
Q: I believe four of Britton Colquitt's six punts against Detroit were inside the 20 yard line. Were you hoping to pin some of those a little bit further back?
A: Absolutely. Yeah, that's something that we've addressed with Britton (Colquitt) and that he's worked on in practice this week. I think just cleaning up his technique a little bit and getting them possibly inside the 10 instead of the 15 to the 20 mark is definitely going to be an improvement hopefully this week.
Q: Is that kind of an outdated goal now, being inside the 20?
A: A little bit, yeah. That's a good point. You want to be inside the 10 as much as possible. I think hang time, every punter is different. I think Britton has a good hang time ball inside with our going in balls, those are our pooch balls. I think that poses a different perspective for our opponents, but yeah, you want to get as close to the goal line without being too selfish as possible. I think the worst thing that could happen is watching a returner let that thing go, and then it goes for a touchback. Thank god we haven't had many this year.
Q: Do you gear everything you do to be inside the 10?
A: We try to get as close to the 10 as possible.
Q: Every venue is different each week, but talk about the challenges of playing in the Chargers' stadium this weekend.
A: Yeah, it's definitely a different place. This will be my third time playing there. Some of our guys have never been there yet. It's a very unique place, I'm hoping our fans travel well. It's a nice place to visit this weekend, so I'm hoping they all decide to come out there, because you can definitely feel their presence if they do. But as far as the field goes, it's mostly been for soccer, and it's not a bad field. I think they maintain it very well. But we're playing most of our games on turf, so we've got to adapt to that, and having a good solid pregame is important for our specialist. But yeah, the whole place definitely poses a different atmosphere. It's a lot different, it's small.
Q: What where the fans like when you were there?
A: I tell you what, if I remember correctly, I was with Miami, and they were loud. I mean, they have a good following there, but I just remember we always traveled well I Miami, and being here for a year now and watching our fans on the road, you seen them right away, especially on the lower bowl part in pregame. And then all of a sudden you just see a sea of purple, and that's what I'm hoping we have this weekend.