Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn is familiar with multiple Vikings coaches, as well as their offensive system.
Lynn played for the Broncos in 1993 and again from 1997-98; during that second stint, he played under Gary Kubiak, who now serves as the Vikings assistant head coach/offensive advisor, as well as Vikings tight ends coach Brian Pariani and offensive line coach/run game coordinator Rick Dennison.
He later joined the coaching ranks alongside Kubiak, Pariani and Dennison.
"Rick Dennison, Gary Kubiak, Brian Pariani, I first played for those guys, and then I ended up coaching with those guys," Lynn told Twin Cities media members earlier this week via conference call. "Early on in my coaching career, I had great role models. I had a chance to look up to those guys and how they did things, and we won a lot of football games during that period of time. I got to see guys do it the right way, and me and Kubs, we got close – me being an offensive assistant – so I know those guys very well."
Lynn was asked by Los Angeles-area media members about the Vikings rushing attack and called it a "different scheme."
"It's a wide zone-scheme that Gary Kubiak runs a lot, that I'm very familiar with," Lynn said. "You can have athletes in there that can run and chase, and can hit versus a power scheme."
Chargers linebacker Drue Tranquill was also asked about defending the Vikings offense and specifically their success this season with the play-action game.
The rookie said that "eye discipline" will be crucial for the Chargers defense in facing Minnesota.
"They love the stretch play, they love the toss play; the reason they like that is because they like to get linebackers moving laterally and then hitting shots overhead," Tranquill said. "We'll have to be keyed in to our run-pass keys on the linemen, whether they're coming up or going lateral, be able to get back in our drops and defend those over routes."
"This year, this team's the biggest boot team, the biggest play-action team we've played, for sure," he added.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers won't be facing Minnesota's offense, of course. But he shares a mutual respect with Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and has seen the Vikings success on that side of the ball.
Through 13 games, Cousins is 272-of-388 passing with a 70.1 completion percentage that matches his career high accomplished last season. He's passed for 3,274 yards and 24 touchdowns against just four interceptions, which is a career low since becoming a full-time starter in 2015. Cousins also has a career-high passer rating of 112.0.
Rivers was asked about Cousins "turnaround" in his second season with the Vikings.
"I don't know if you call it a turnaround. I think Kirk's been a consistent player his whole career," Rivers said. "A competitor, accurate, has done a heck of a job leading those guys. They've been scoring a lot of points, haven't turned the ball over, their defense has gotten a lot of takeaways.
"That group, again, they've won nine football games for a reason," Rivers continued. "[Kirk] certainly had his hand in it, as well, leading the group. It'll be a heck of a challenge. An all-around good football team we're playing on Sunday."
Here are other highlights from the Chargers talking about the Vikings this week:
Lynn on Vikings LB Anthony Barr:
"He's one of the best in the game. He's big, he's fast, he's instinctive, he can play the run, he can play the pass, he can rush the passer. I don't know if there's anything he can't do. But he's going to be a heck of a challenge for us."
Lynn on Kirk's ability to spread the ball around:
"Well, the Vikings have a ton of weapons. Those receivers, those running backs – that fullback is really versatile, too. And they've got the offensive line that they want – an athletic line that can move, cut-off on the front side, cut in the back side, to complement that wide zone running scheme.
"Cousins is just kind of spreading the wealth. He's moving around a lot, he's extending some plays, he's throwing with a good accuracy. He just looks a lot more comfortable this time around than when I played him last time."
Rivers on Zimmer's defense:
"Yeah, they're good. They're good. Obviously, I've gone against Coach Zimmer and this scheme a handful of times over his years in Cincinnati and in '15 up in the Minnesota. We saw them once in the preseason. A good defense. And they've kept some continuity player-wise, which he had in Cincy, as well, which helps with his scheme. They give you a lot of looks, they work well together, and they fly around. They make you earn every first down. … Nothing will come easy, and it will be a heck of a challenge."
Rivers on prospect of playing spoiler after being eliminated from the postseason:
"We want to win for us. It's been tough. Every loss by one score and obviously that tough stretch right there in the middle. So, we're playing for us. But certainly, there's a lot on the line for them. The Rams are pulling for us, as well. It'll be a heck of a game. Again, our focus is 1-0 this week, and I think keeping that focus, it served us well last week. We'll have that same approach and see if we can get another one."
TE Hunter Henry on playing the role of spoiler:
"I don't know if we're playing for that, but we're excited to go out there and have another opportunity this week against another good football team that's coming out here. We get to play a home game, for once. I feel like we haven't been home in a while. I know that we'll all be excited about that. We're playing a really good Vikings team. We'll be fired up and ready to go."
RB Austin Ekeler on the Vikings defense:
"They play a lot of zone – Cover 2, Cover 4 – so it's a lot of the same stuff [we've seen]. Everyone has their own little taste and flair, so you just have to adjust to that. Not really anything that stands out."