Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Good to see you guys again. Again, it's been great being here in Mankato for camp with the facilities, and the weather has cooperated with us, and fan support, it's all been great. The university with the supplies that they have done as far as the meals, and the meeting rooms, just all of those things have been great so far, and our guys have been able to really concentrate and focus on what we are trying to do football wise. That is always a big plus, not something that we want to take for granted, and say we are grateful for that. We're into camp now a little bit here with the vets, going on a week now, so we are starting to get into the meat of some things. We got Saturday night, we will get after it a little bit with the night practice and then will we come back the next week looking forward to our first preseason game.
Q: It seems like you bring in a lot of guys to play opposite side of Harrison Smith's spot, but Andrew Sendejo always seems to win that competition every year. What is the key for him?
A: I'll tell you one thing about Sendejo; he's a true professional, he's very consistent day-in and day-out, and you know what you are getting with him. So, that's a credit to him with his accountability to not only his teammates but to us, as far as what we try to do schematically, calls and communication, all of those things. I think everyone knows his accountability and what he is going to bring to the football field. He is a tough, physical football player that is very accountable and does a good job for us.
Q: Can you describe him as a professional and how he has evolved over the years?
A: I think the big thing is that he pays attention to all of the little details. He's going to do everything. When you say he's a professional, he's going to eat right, he's going to take care of his body, he's going to get rest, he's going to be in the playbook. We can go from the classroom to the field. You're going to see it, you're going to hear it exactly the way that we put it in, and I think that makes everybody around him comfortable. One thing about him, when the ball turns over now, he's going 100 miles per hour, which that is what we're trying to emphasize. Everyone playing aggressive, everyone getting to the football, and he eludes that everyday.
Q: Does he have to tap the brakes every once in a while?
A: With certain situations with play X's and O's type of things, if he is disciplined with his eyes, playing in the middle of the field, those type of deals, knowing where the landmarks are, eliminating threats, and those kind of deals, but we all have things we have got to improve on and like I said, he has a lot of strengths that he brings to the table.
Q: Coach Zimmer the other day talked about getting a few looks at Ben Gedeon in the base. What have you seen from him that you have liked throughout camp so far?
A: The thing you see about him, is he comes out. He makes a lot of plays for us. He does a good job in the run game of getting on and off blocks. He's got a good understanding of the passing game as far as the matchups underneath. We are trying to get our best three guys out there and we're just having a competition, and we'll just see as it progresses through the preseason, through camp, but he's earned a spot to get up there and compete with those guys. He's done a good job of coming to work everyday and knowing what to do and the temperament we want to do it with.
Q: Was yesterday's weather ideal for a defense?
A: That helps us. Any time the wind is blowing, it can help with the accuracy of the quarterback and those kind of things. We'll take it. We'll take it, but no, it's been great weather here. Yesterday was a little cold, but that was a good experience for our guys to get out here. It's not going to change. Coach talks about it all of the time, times are going to change when we play games, elements are going to change when we play games, so that is one of those situations you've got to come out and stay focused on what it is we are trying to get accomplished.
Q: With the players getting into their fourth year of the defense, what are some things you can do now that you couldn't in years one and two?
A: I think the more familiarity they have with it the more they aren't thinking quite as much. They can line up and play because they have been through some experiences as far as adjustments and different things offenses try to do. I think the one thing we can do as we keep going with it is using the strengths of our players, getting them in the best position to make plays, and whatever we feel like from week to week being able to adjust other teams are trying to do to us and matchups.
Q: Are you going to be more aggressive with the playing calling with you and Mike Zimmer?
A: I think the big thing is our players feel comfortable with situational football. Coaches spend an enormous amount of time with situational football in the offseason and now. I think you put that with the calls that we are going to use in those situations. They are a lot more comfortable with them that when they come up in a game that they have been through it and they understand what we are trying to get accomplished in the situation. We will react a lot faster.
Q: In the modern NFL, why is it so important to have a player like Linval Joseph?
A: Linval Joseph is an exceptional player. He's not only got the bulk to play the position, the block awareness, balance, contact balance, and all those things but just the attitude that he brings to it every day. You look at college football right now you don't see a lot of nose guards because there's a lot of spread. Having a guy like that in the middle of your defense that brings that type of work ethic and pride to what he's trying to get accomplished is definitely a plus. I think Coach has said it and I'll say it, he's one of the best I've ever been around. I mean he's really a dominate force in there, does it exactly how you try to get it taught every day, and the consistency he brings to practice and takes the game that's a big plus for us.
Q: Given the way it is college; do you think the nose guard position is going to survive on in the NFL?
A: One thing about it, is to stop the run in the NFL you're going to need a guy that can sit there and handle the double teams yet still be able to move his feet when he's getting the flat scoops and those kinds of things. I see that as being a cog within a defensive scheme as things move forward.
Q: In terms of finding nose guards?
A: Now finding it is a little bit different thing. There's only a few of them that come out every year but guys develop as they go through it and that's what you have to hope to do.
Q: How does Mackensie Alexander look to you?
A: He's really worked hard and has played pretty consistent for us throughout training camp so far. Again, that process is just evaluation every day. When we get under the lights tomorrow and when we get to the preseason games. That's just going to continue on but to his credit he's really worked hard. You can tell he's in tune to what we are asking him to do. Calls and communication he's been good and he just has to keep progressing, learning, and keep improving each day.
Q: What more do you want to see out of him before you're comfortable in that role?
A: With everybody right now we have a lot of competition on our side of the ball. It's just going to be a process when the lights come on playing in a preseason game and when we get opportunities to compete out here in practice, we want to see consistency every single day not only from us but from the players in that position and making sure that the guys around him feel comfortable that he's going to get his job done.
Q: You mentioned the lights tomorrow night. Do you approach it any different than a normal practice?
A: No, we aren't approaching it any differently. It's the first time we have practiced at night and a lot of our preseason games are at night. Whether its special teams catching the ball in the lights or defensive backs making sure we our eyes are focused on what it is. It's just another evaluation of something that is going to come up in the preseason but also come up during the season. We have Monday night games, Thursday night games and we are going to have a Sunday night game. With those situations we just have make sure it stays focused and stay consistent throughout the process.
Q: Will Mike Zimmer call plays in buffalo?
A: You will have to talk to Coach [Zimmer] about that.
Q: What's the difference between calling the defense in the preseason verse the regular season?
A: I think in the preseason it's about where we are with the install. It's not as much game planning and we are spending a lot more time trying to get what we are trying to get done going into the season. We are evaluating a lot of different guys. It's not as specific as far as matchups. From that aspect of it, it is an evaluation but we also want to go out and play good defense, play good fundamentals and techniques, and have guys fly around and make plays.
Q: Do you have a feel for what it would be like to call the plays?
A: As a signal caller, whether calling defense in the preseason or regular season, you're calling them to win. You're trying to get guys in the best position. Again, it's not like we went through and tried to stop a specific play that they run. You get into a preseason game and it's more about executing what it is that you do have called. Whether it's we have a base coverage call or sub, blitz or whatever it is. The biggest thing is to get lined up and execute what we're trying to do. Like I said, there's no magical calls its about our guys lining up and executing.
Q: Are you going to try and use Anthony Barr as a pass rusher than a stand-up linebacker?
A: We'll just have to see as we keep progressing down the road. Again, we're trying to get these guy in the best advantageous position to take advantage of their skill set. Anthony wears a lot of different hats and he's pretty good at wearing those hats and he's really had a good camp so far. We'll look forward as we keep moving forward through camp and keep progressing down the road.
Q: How often does Coach Zimmer consult with you during games about plays?
A: Coach Zimmer has called plays for a long time. The biggest thing is anytime something comes up we want to have a response to be able to answer it. Therefore if we don't get it stopped it's going to keep coming the rest of the day so I think it's collective amongst our staff of guys handling their areas that they concentrate and focus on and it's about a group effort of all of us trying to get our guys in the best position to be successful.
Q: What have you learned about Coach Zimmer's ability to play call in the heat of the moment calling plays?
A: I think the preparation going into it is key when it comes to play calling, you do a lot of preparation over the course of the week. Again, we're working the situations out here during training camp. Situations about what certain teams like to do, offenses like to do and certain situations are critical as anything when you're making those calls. Just like anything else, when you're in the game you're going to have to adjust. It goes hand in hand, I think guys do a great job of handling their areas, understanding what it is we're trying to get accomplished and guys going out there and executing a call.
Q: How has the run defense looked so far?
A: We had a day the other day where we weren't as consistent especially when we were in some of our shell coverages. We'll continue to work on those things and the fundamentals of it. Hopefully we'll continue throughout this camp, throughout preseason and we'll continue to get better when guys get on and off blocks and make plays. We're not going to be able to line up an eight man front of blitz and do those kinds of things. From our aspect of it we have to be able to line up in our zone coverage as guys get on and off blocks make plays.
Q: Is Ben Gedeon a guy who's shown up in those areas?
A: Ben's done a good job. He's a very instinctive football player and like any other position the biggest deal is handling your responsibility and go find a ball. He has been able to find a football here at training camp thus far.