Vikings coordinators: Facing Mack, Beebe impressing, Abdullah’s role and more
Every Thursday during the regular season (when the Minnesota Vikings play a Sunday game), the three coordinators speak to the media. Here’s a few highlights from this week’s press conferences:
Defensive coordinator George Edwards
Q: How has the use of the RPO [run-pass option] changed from last year to this year?
A: That’s the thing, it’s a lot more of them [RPOs] that they use within their offensive scheme this year. I think the quarterback [Mitchell Trubisky] has got a good grasp of it, a good feel for it. I think he did it his whole college career, so I think he’s comfortable with it. But when you look at teams, and especially in our division, a lot of them have been doing RPOs for a long time. You look at Detroit, you look at Green Bay, those guys have all been running RPOs really since we’ve been here, when you look at it. I think they’ve made that a part of their offense, I think it fits their personnel really good. They’re very athletic at receiver, their running back [Jordan Howard] is a hard runner up inside, or wide running plays with [Tarik] Cohen. It fits their personnel good, and they do a good job of intermixing it within their scheme of things.
Q: How differently are they using Tarik Cohen this year?
A: They used him a lot last year. Totally different scheme, but you saw his skill set to be out in space as a receiver, you saw him in the backfield with the toughness to run between the tackles, the vision to be able to bounce or cut back to get on the perimeter. His skill set, they’re using it in a lot of different ways. Rarely similar, he’s going to be a receiver now, he can be a tailback where he’s back there getting the handoff. In empty he’s out there isolated one-on-one. You’ve definitely got to do a good job of the matchups and be careful with what you’re asking them to do. This team is going to come in with new formations and new personnel groups, some different formations. It’s that way every week, so we understand that. A big thing for our guys is just understand what we’re trying to get accomplished defensively in the matchups and the leverage and the coverage.
Q: What have you learned about Sheldon Richardson’s personality since he’s been here?
A: Sheldon has been an ultimate pro since he’s been here, with his work habits and the things that he brings to the table with his skill set. He’s bought in to what we’re trying to get accomplished defensively, and he really has helped us a lot inside. Against the run game, he’s very stout against the run, you’re not going to move him off the ball. In the passing game he’s getting push in the pocket. I know his sack numbers aren’t as high as he’d like them to be right now, but I can tell you that he’s right there and the quarterback feels his push inside, which will be big for us this week with this guy [Trubisky] and the way he tries to escape out of the pocket. He’s been doing a great job of those things. He’s been unselfish, he’s paid attention to the details of what we’re trying to do, whether it’s our rush plan with the different techniques that we try to play versus the runs that we’re getting from week-to-week. He’s been a big plus for us inside.
Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo
Q: How much different with Khalil Mack and the entire Bears defense of a challenge is this?
A: We’ve, I don’t want to say fortunate, but we’ve faced some elite pass rushers so far this season. Seems like every week we’ve got one. I think our plan on how to handle it has been somewhat solid. It’s been somewhat solid. We haven’t been perfect, but we’ve been pretty good. Khalil is obviously, I know him on a personal level because I was in Oakland when we drafted him. I know him up close and personal how good he is and how good his skillset is. We have our hands full.
Q: What are the adjustments for you when they move Khalil Mack around?
A: That is the number one thing we need to see is, “Where is he?” We are going to have ways to protect both sides. I don’t want to get too much into scheme before the game but I think our plan will be solid. I know our plan will be solid.
Q: Do you anticipate Dalvin Cook being full go or is he still on a snap count?
A: To us, Dalvin is full go. To us, Dalvin is full go. Obviously you are going to see how the game is played out and those things. But Dalvin is anticipating on being full go.
Q: What do you think about Ameer Abdullah fitting into the mix?
A: I am still learning him. I am still learning him. He had a really good practice yesterday. He is really, really fast and quick. He is really quick. He has great hands. I went back and watched some of his film from a few years ago. He is a really good player. The more comfortable he gets back there with our offense and when he can go out and execute, he is going to play.
Q: How do you manage the risk of throwing the ball and teams stopping the run inside the 10-yard line?
A: Best red zone teams in the NFL have two things in common. Number one, they can run the football down there inside the 10. Number two, they throw the ball in the end zone. It’s not a dink and dunk. I am talking about even from the 20 in. So they throw the ball in the end zone. There is certain things and certain ways to throw the ball in the end zone, in the red zone. A lot of it is personnel driven. What I mean by that is there is going to be an extra player in there. When you watch teams run the ball in the red zone, it is usually the back runs somebody over, the back makes somebody miss. There is going to be an extra guy there. The backs know that and they have to be able to have that collision at the goal line. I think you are seeing that with us with Latavius [Murray] this year. Either that or make them miss. You just have to know that extra player is going to be there.
Q: How do you balance where to use Latavius Murray versus Dalvin Cook inside the 15-yard line?
A: We are lucky. Both of those guys, there is not one run those guys can’t do. But there are some that they do better than others. I think you try to concentrate on the ones they do really, really well so they see the hole. Whether it be we need a little bit more juice for the run or a little bit more power for the run. Those are ways you determine who is running the football. At the end of the day, we have confidence in both of those guys running it. We will get better running it down there the second half of the season, no doubt.
Q: What has Chad Beebe shown in practice that impressed the coaching staff?
A: It started back in training camp. It really did. It started back in training camp. You could just tell this kid understood football. I don’t know, he obviously has great bloodlines. He is a great kid. He doesn’t say anything. All he wants to do is learn. It started back in training camp where you’re like, “Wow, this guy just keeps making plays.” The more you give him, the more he makes plays and, “Wow, this guy can handle playing a lot of spots.” So he is versatile, the more he can do, we always talk about. It started back in training camp. As it got into the season when he was running against our defense, which is no walk in the park on an everyday basis, he kept making plays. I would go back and watch some of the scout team practice on Friday afternoons. That is part of my Friday routine is watching some of that stuff and he just kept making play after play after play. We are fortunate that we were allowed to get him up. I think you saw him in his first action the other night against Detroit and going in there and make a huge fourth down catch, a third down catch. He did a great job. I think the more he can handle and the more he shows he can handle, the bigger his role will be.
Q: What is it about Beebe’s movement skill that allows him to get separation?
A: He is really, really quick. He’s got quick feet. You know the old saying, which I wasn’t sure I believed in, but guys that say, “He is quicker than fast.” Well, I believe it now. He is fast, but he is legitimate quick. And he is a fast decision maker. You saw him run that choice route on fourth-and-two and he made a quick decision. It was a big play in that football game. We ended up going down and scoring that touchdown. It was a huge play. He did a great job.
Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer
Q: What would you rank the surface at Soldier Field?
A: Well, they used to keep it long. I don’t know if it’s long anymore. I know last year I think it was fairly short, fairly common. I don’t know if they did that for a competitive advantage for whoever the running back. I don’t know what the case was there, but at night it’s a little bit slick. Our guys have to be ready for that. I don’t know if it’s going to be rain, snow, mixture, whatever it’s going to be, windy. We’ve had cold windy weather here. We practiced outside yesterday. I took the guys out on Monday they weren’t very happy about that, the punter and kicker. Got them to punt and kick a little bit there, but they performed well in that atmosphere in that type of conditions. Hopefully that will bode well for Sunday night.
Q: What have you heard or seen this year about the surface?
A: I don’t think there’s any problems. I think their grounds crew does a phenomenal job. They always have. I know it’s very difficult. I think they replaced the sod maybe a week or so ago. You guys would probably know that more than me. I think they’ve always done a good job there. There’s never been bad conditions even late in the year I think they do a good job. I know they have high school games there later in the year, probably playoff time like right about now, but they’ve always done a good job with it. I don’t think it’s ever really been a major issue.
Q: How do you prepare for the windy conditions going into Soldier Field?
A: It’s a little bit unpredictable, but what we do, and I have the specialist do it as well. They study the tape from all the games. There’s a certain direction that Cody [Parkey] likes to kickoff when it’s right to left from our bench – our tunnel’s right here and here’s our bench. Right to left he’d like to kick a certain direction, left to right he’d like to kick a certain direction, so there are tendencies that our kicker for kickoff purposes can pick up on. For our punter you can study their punter doing the same thing that [Pat] O’Donnell when he’s going one direction from the right hash he likes to kick a certain direction and the left hash another direction or whatever the case might be. We study all those tendencies. Don’t really want to over think those or over evaluate those and then on Sunday we’ll go out there and make our own adjustments from there.
Q: Does Ameer Adbullah enter the mix as a kickoff returner?
Q: Could he be the guy?
A: He could be the guy. We have to wait and see if he’s going to be active or not, obviously that’s up to Coach Zimmer and what he wants to do with the roster, but we if we have his services available I would like to use him as a kickoff returner. I know he’ll fit right into what we want at that position and the big thing for Ameer is obviously, ball security and we’re going to continue to preach that to him. That’s been one of the issues he’s had in the past and I don’t think it’s been a major issue for him but like any young returner and to me he’s still a young returner – you got to emphasis how important that ball security is and along with running the returns we need him to run and performing how we need him to perform.
Q: What impresses you about his return ability?
A: Yeah, he was really good coming out. He was our number one returner we had ranked coming out of Nebraska that year. The thing that Ameer does, he’s got what I like to call – you guys have heard me say it before, running back vision. I mean he’s a running back that has that type of vision as a returner not every returner has that. I think the good ones do and the ones that are so-so don’t have it because they can’t foresee what’s coming. They can’t see it and I think Ameer has that ability and he’s got quickness and he’s got strength. He has the ability to hit the seams, he’s got courage, and I think you’ve got to be a tough guy to hit those seams that are going to be there, hopefully they’re there, but they’re going to close up pretty quick. He has the ability to hit those seams before they close up. I think he brings a lot to the table at that position.
Q: How much did his special teams impact factor into claiming him off waivers?
A: I talked to George Paton about it and they obviously knew how I felt about it. George went back and looked at my ranking before he even came and talked to me, before we had our discussion he went back and looked back at the comments and ranking I had him when he was coming out of Nebraska. Obviously, that was a big sell for our guys. He brings a lot to the table as an athlete. We might use him on other phases for that matter. If he’s your third running back you need him on other special teams which he has not done, that’s where the training part comes in more so than as kickoff returner but being on the punt return unit, being on the kickoff unit, being on the punt team unit. We’re already training him as a gunner. He had one rep in Detroit. It didn’t look very good, but I don’t know how much experience he had prior to that in terms of practicing and meeting time with him. We’re going to keep working with him. You don’t take an athlete like that and just have stand next to me on the sideline. You want him out there as much as possible.
Q: How much time do you spend on trick plays during the week?
A: It depends on the coach. This coach coming from Cleveland he had a lot of trick plays, surprise onsides. He’s done it all and we need to be prepared for that type stuff. Other coaches don’t do it as much, but you still kind of have an awareness. You never want to forget about that stuff because you never know when they might throw a fake punt, fake field goal, surprise onside kick, whatever the case may be. Always aware of that, but when you play certain coaches you’re specific in covering those type of plays.
Press conference transcripts provided by the Minnesota Vikings