Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski
Looking forward to getting back out on the field. Had that day off there and the guys came out and performed pretty well yesterday. They are still learning a lot and we are still teaching. Briefly on the game the other night in New Orleans, we were pleased with the production, the run game and the passing game, but as coach pointed out, and it is great for us to coach off of, there was way too many penalties and hand placement and some technique that we can certainly clean up. That is a focus of ours moving forward.
Q: How do you gauge the effectiveness of the offense from what you saw Friday?
A: We are gauging our effectiveness every day, even out here. I look at the game as an extension of our practice, and we take a real strong look at our scheme out here versus the Vikings. Then we go out there versus New Orleans, and it’s just versus a different front, versus a few different coverages. I think we are where we want to be as we progress. Now is the point of training camp where you get out of your installs a little bit and you start to tweak things and adapt, which is where we are at right now.
Q: Do you like the way it opened up for play action and some of the outside zone game on Friday?
A: I think you certainly saw the run game and the pass game marrying together. I think that is really no secret to who we are, so I think that was good to see. But it is really hard to gauge too much off of that being that they are so vanilla and we are so vanilla. Pleased with the production, but we have a long way go.
Q: Can you take the Mike Boone touchdown run and coach off the way it was blocked downfield and at the line?
A: It was pretty good. We talk so much about effort, and you saw Khari’s [Blasingame] effort on that play was outstanding. Then you saw the wide receivers, I think there were some tight ends that were busting their tail to get down there. We make such a big deal in our meeting room that here is exactly how we want this blocked. When you get into a game and they give you a front that you didn’t see, now it’s a matter of can we play faster and harder for that play. I think there were a bunch of examples of that, where it was not perfect at times, but I saw a lot of guys where the effort was really good.
Q: How have you seen Olabisi Johnson progress from just a young guy just figuring out how to line up to a guy making plays in preseason?
A: It was good to see. We talk so often out here about making plays on the football. Our quarterbacks when there is a match up that asks for it or dictates it, they will give our guys a chance to go make a play. On Bisi’s touchdown in particular that was really good to see of him planting his feet and going up and getting the football. He has done a nice job. He is still a rookie making rookie mistakes. We are going to keep coaching him really hard, but I think you definitely see some progress from that young man.
Q: Bisi Johnson stopped on a route to set up Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson. What does that say about his ability as a rookie receiver to get a quarterback to look his way?
A: That is part of route running, there is a savviness to it. It is not going to look exactly the same every time. Certainly to the defender you want to show them a picture of this route looks like that route, and I think that double move in particular, he had a little bit of a flare. I think he may have been watching some of the older guys run that, but certainly we work really hard on the techniques and route running and there are some movements these guys are blessed with, and that was one of them.
Q: What do you like about the two backs offense? What flexibility does that give you?
A: I think our offense is multiple. We will be in two back, we will be in one back and we will be in no back. I like the variety that it allows us because we have the players to do that. Versatility is a big part of what we are looking for from our players. Certainly when you talk about the two back with our full backs it gives us the ability to stay in two back or to move out of two back. It is nice to have versatile, smart players
Q: Adam Thielen’s catch at the one-yard line, what makes him able to adjust to the ball rather than have to always catch it in stride?
A: It kind of goes back to what we were talking about before, when the ball is in the air, it’s ours. It’s a mentality. That mentality permeates throughout our room whether it’s the wide receivers, the tight ends, the running backs, we just have to have the idea that when it’s in the air, it’s ours. I think Adam has that, I think he’s shown that over the course of time, he and Stefon [Diggs] especially, when that ball is in the air, they find a way to come down with it.
Q: Is there anything you learned about the offensive line that you didn’t know prior to the game?
A: No, I wouldn’t say so. I think so much of it, we’re still in evaluation mode also. We have some young players, and it was really nice to see them get some live reps under the lights, see who stuck with their technique. Then really I thought there was some really good examples of terrific effort and that’s really a big part of what we do here.
Q: Going back to those contested catches, how do you walk the line of taking chances with your great receivers, and playing safe football?
A: It’s part of our job as coaches to let them know when we’re in the mode of taking a shot and when we’re being smart. Ultimately, that quarterback is the trigger man. We preach to him that he’s got to be aggressive and smart at the same time. We’ll do our best to let him know the opportunities that we’re giving him to go ahead and press the launch button. But certainly, that’s not going to be every play lofting it up there.
Q: This many years into the league for Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, do you notice the little things they’re trying to do in order to keep getting better with footwork and technique?
A: I do, and it happens out here in the walkthrough. Those guys stand next to each other and you can hear them talking about how they’re going to run the route, and the look that they got from the defender on that particular play, and what might be a counter-move off of that. That’s a great example of two pros taking their craft very seriously and honing it. I think it’s great for our young receivers, because we have a young room in there, and I think it’s really great that we have those two veterans showing them that the hay is never in the barn, you have to work at your craft.
Q: With the run game, how do you know how persistent to be as a play caller if it’s not working right away?
A: I think systematically, we’re going to go into every game trying to be explosive in the run and the pass game. Obviously, we’re having conversations throughout the game on what’s working and what’s not working, but that’s our job as coaches to be ready to adapt. It happens in between a series, I happens during a series, it happens at halftime. That’s our job to have success in the run and the pass game.
Q: Do you think it’s important to have Dalvin Cook get carries in the preseason in order to get him into a rhythm?
A: I think that’s up to Coach [Mike] Zimmer. We’ll talk about that. I think we’re getting a ton of great work out here. Kennedy Polomalu puts those guys through the paces in their individual period, and that’s something that coach and I will discuss.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Okay, back to training camp today. We had a good practice yesterday after the game this past weekend. It was good to get those guys an opportunity to get out there in the lights and be able to handle those situations. Now we’re back at practice still trying to get better on the things we need to work on coming out of it.
Q: What did you think about Hercules Mata’afa on Friday night?
A: I thought he did some good things. I think the biggest thing is still got to keep working to be consistent. He showed he can handle some of the pounding on the side and he did a good job rushing the passer.
Q: Over the years, what has Anthony Harris done to take big steps going from an undrafted rookie to now?
A: I think his attention to detail is the biggest thing and when he’s had opportunities, he’s been able to step up and be able to play at a high level for us. If you look over his career since he’s been here, he’s started quite a few games for us. He’s healthy and doing a good job for us here through training camp.
Q: What do you think of Cameron Smith as linebacker and the role he might have this year?
A: We are still working through that right now to see how that goes, but he did some good things the other night. Got some things we definitely got to get improved upon and we’ll just look forward to him progressing throughout the rest of training camp and throughout the preseason.
Q: How did the defensive line look to you?
A: It was an opportunity for some guys that really haven’t played that extensive. They have sort of been rotation inside, when you’re talking about Jalyn (Holmes) and Jaleel (Johnson). They got a full dose of it the other night. There were some things we definitely recognized we have to get better at. At the start of the game we kind of lined up a little bit off the ball and not too tight in our alignments, but once they got to the sideline Coach (Andre) Patterson was able to see it, get them adjusted, and then kind of settle down and got back to the fundamentals and techniques that we’re looking to play. The big thing is we just got to keep pressing upon it no matter what the situation. We’ve got to recognize it and be consistent with our technique and fundamentals.
Q: What stood out to you about the young defensive backs that got in the game on Friday?
A: The one thing coming out of the game, we had way too many penalties as far as grabbing and those kind of things, so we got to get them back in tune to working the technique and the fundamentals within the different coverages and making sure that they take those to the game. Anytime you have poor eyes and start looking at the back field, your first tendency is to grab, so understanding that it’s different at this level as far as you can only contact them in the first five yards, all those things, and now they got a chance to witness it live. We’ve got to keep continuing to get better with the technique and fundamental and not grabbing.
Q: Kris Boyd didn’t play Friday. What did you see out of him before the injury and where does this put him now in terms of catching up?
A: We really regret he’s had the injury and not being able to come out and practice and not being able to play in the game. Those are valuable reps, so we are just trying to keep him mentally in tune now and as soon as we can get him right back out here, put him right back to work.
Q: What have you thought of his camp so far?
A: He’s done some good things, definitely things we’ve still got to keep continuing to improve on. The biggest thing is, like I said, is getting him back out here and get him going where he can recognize different things and work on the technique. Those things are hard to do when you’re not practicing.