Vikings coordinators: Fourth-and-short strategy, Diggs’ YAC, trust in Bailey 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:

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Defensive coordinator George Edwards

Q: What has Josh Rosen shown you on tape?

A: He’s shown the arm to be able to make all the throws. He’s very smart, you can see with his communication while getting guys lined up, getting the protection set. As a rookie he’s doing a lot of things, and doing a good job with them. He’s shown the ability to scramble and get out of situations, but he’s always looking down the field and been able to complete balls down the field.

Q: What has Jalyn Holmes shown you in the reps he’s had at defensive end?

A: You know we kind of got him some reps in between as we worked through the offseason stuff, but he’s stepped in, he’s got good awareness, he takes coaching, and he’s working hard every day. His move out there has been good. We can see flashes, and the more he keeps repping it, the more he gets comfortable at it.

Q: For a guy like Holmes that only gets limited reps during games, how long can it take to get a set of moves that they’re comfortable with using in real time?

A: With the experience part of it, game experience is the hardest thing. But they get a lot of reps out here at practice as we go through the offseason and as we go through training camp, so hopefully we can just see that transfer from practice to the game. That’s the biggest thing, trying to get him in all situations to where he doesn’t have to be thinking and he can line up and use his athleticism and play.


Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo

Q: With analytics, how have you seen through the years decision making change by coaches throughout the league on fourth-and-short situations?

A: Great question. I think each situation is very unique and very different. I’ve been at places where it was just totally not used at all. I’ve been at places where you kind of dip your toe in the water a little bit and read it. I’ve been at places where it’s pretty heavily used. The thing with analytics is it’s very, very useful. It really is. It’s useful but it’s like anything. It’s a piece of what you do. You don’t go all in on anything in this league in my opinion because I just think that a lot of it is your gut. I think a lot of it is how your offense is playing, how your defense is playing, what is the weather like, what is the wind like, if you have to kick a winning field goal, are you going into the wind, are you not into the wind. There are a lot of factors involved outside of analytics that factor into the game. The other things that analytics doesn’t factor in are these are actual people, not numbers. The way I talk about analytics is I like it. I read everything that is given to me. I use it. The way I look at it is if you are standing away from a dart board at 10 feet and try to throw a bullseye, it allows you to be at nine-and-a-half feet.

Q: Do you think the percentages being up noticeably the last two to three years with a lot of teams going for it on fourth down contribute to it a lot?

A: I don’t know. The last place I was at, we used that information a lot. I don’t want to speak for coach [Doug] Pederson and his mindset at all. I am not trying to speak for him at all but I know he really used that information and came to his own conclusions on how to use that information. We went for it on fourth downs some at the last place I was at. How much of it was analytics-based? I really never asked Coach. How much of that was Coach’s gut? I’m not sure.

Q: Have you and coach Zimmer discussed the numbers on two-point conversions and thinking about going for two more often if the numbers said it was correct?

A: Yes. We follow a chart but at the same time Coach has a great feel for the game. He really does. He has been doing it a long time at an elite level. Coach is one of those guys that have been there, done that, seen it all type guys. He has a tremendous feel for the game as the game is going on. How everyone is playing, field position. It’s been really great for me to be around him and watch him and observe him. How he sees the game because I’ve learned a lot. We’ve talked about it, sure .We’ve talked about it, sure. But Coach has a great feel for the game and like I said, I think he does a great job on gameday.

Q: Have you seen any change over the years with teams valuing possession of the ball over field position?

A: As an offensive coach, I’d love to get the ball on the plus 40 every time we have it and have shorter drives. But that is selfish for the football team. Our goal is when we get great field position like we did the other night right before halftime, we went down and scored a touchdown. Adam [Thielen] and Kirk [Cousins] made a great play. At the same time, we want to win. That is one of our goals is to win the time of possession each week. That means you are running more plays, you are staying on schedule, you are converting third downs. I think both kind of play into each other. We like to win both of those battles each week, sure.

Q: Referring to fourth-and-short, is there an actual sheet and who keeps that?

A: There is. It depends on where you go. It depends on what team you are with. There are some guys that have fourth down charts and this and that. It’s been heavily researched, going back years and years and years of teams going for it on fourth down. Like I said, you’d have to ask Coach that because I am not trying to pass the ball cap but he is the one that makes the decisions on whether to go for it on fourth-and-one so you would have to ask him about what is thought process is.

Q: How is Stefon Diggs able to generate yards after the catch on the screen and be effective?

A: I think it all starts at the point of attack. I thought [Laquon] Treadwell really had a so-so one and the other couple were really, really good. When you have a man at the point of attack that can get the play started, that is the key to it. You want to get the play started. Treddy did a really nice job of just getting the play started and you use Diggs’ God-given ability that he can change direction the way he can, dip his hips the way he can, catch the football the way he can. It’s just another way to get the ball out of Kirk’s hands really quickly into one of our most dynamic playmakers.


Vikings Special Teams coordinator Mike Priefer

Q: How much do you see teams kick the ball in certain places to keep teams off guard?

A:  As coaches we’re all trying to figure out the best time to do it. I think it’s more situational than anything else, unless you’re facing a great return man – like a Cordarrelle Patterson or something like that and doing something different. As coaches we’re trying to figure out do we challenge them here, do we kick a touchback, do we kick it high and short, with 18 seconds to go in the second half what do we do? Like last week against Philly coach Zimmer wanted some time knocked off the clock so we went with our liner, our liner middle – great kick, great coverage, and essentially ended the half. I call that an end the half kickoff. It’s like an end of half punt when you pin a team deep and they have to take a knee at the end of the half. Those are huge plays for us that a lot of people don’t understand the importance of it, but it’s really important.

Q: Did the onside kick go to the side you wanted it to?

A: Well, we got Kyle [Rudolph] on the other side and he’s over there for a reason. I honestly thought that they were going to kick it to our left. That’s where [Jake] Elliot, the only one they had last year kicked to our left actually, no, it kicked to our right. We practiced for both and being a young kicker you didn’t have a lot of tape on him throughout the preseason tape from the year before and obviously the only regular season one they had was at Kansas City a year ago and they got it. It was a nice kick by Jake, but Jake did a nice job that thing was hard to handle. That think was spinning off his foot and hit the ground and was still spinning, but the great thing about Adam and the great thing about Kyle and the other guys is the hands thing. We practice that stuff. We keep guys after practice and we have our kicker [Dan Bailey] kick nasty kicks to them and just let them react and that’s usually where you go to a knee, knock it down, and then grab it. that’s exactly what happened because he say it come off his foot how much it was spinning and it wasn’t going to be routine catch, so our guys did a good job.

Q: How much confidence does it bring to you and Dan Bailey to have him make that last field goal?

A: Glad Dan was our kicker at the end of the game where when coach Zimmer asked me, “Hey, can he make it?” We got it. It was a great call by coach [John] DeFilippo how we got third-and-long, we got it to fourth and manageable where we got a 52-yard field goal instead of 58-yard field goal. I would not have recommended a 58-yarder there just because it was a six-point game, but the 52 he’s got to go out and make it and I was fully confident that he would go out and do that. I thought we protected well all day. For the most part the snap and hold were good, on the first one it was not, which is one of the reasons why he missed it. Now, if you ask Dan he knows he should of made that. The second one he missed he pushed it right and hopefully that’s out of our system. We can came back yesterday in practice and he was 22-of-22. I mean the guy’s a pro and knowing him and his mentality and the way he handles adversity now. I’m getting to know him more and more and of course I followed his career as well, but he’s very focused and he just came back and he stroked it. It was great protection, great kick, great snap, great hold, and helped us win that game.

Press conference transcripts provided by the Minnesota Vikings