John DeFilippo must be one of the happiest men in America right now. Not only is he spending this season in Minnesota and not the Godforsaken hellscape he was in last year, but one of the best players on the Minnesota Vikings’ offense just got a huge contract extension to be with the team for a very long time. While DeFilippo didn’t address that in his press conference following today’s early practice session, he did talk about quite a few other players and topics. So, without any further ado, let’s go to what he had to say to reporters in Eagan this morning.
It is great to see everybody. I hope everyone is having a nice day. I thought it was really good for us to get in pads yesterday. The guys were really excited about it, to obviously to go up against our defense in pads and being able to thud a little bit and get after it and actually play real football. I thought we had a decent day in the red zone, which was really good to see. I think we’ve improved in the red zone since spring. The thing we need to always harp on is staying fundamentally sound. I didn’t think we were as fundamentally sound yesterday as we need to be. At the end of the day, I always tell our guys, “Remember your fundamentals when things are getting tough”. We have to be more fundamentally sound at every position. We are looking forward to getting better at that today and here on out throughout camp.
Q: Are you pleased to see Stefon Diggs get an extension?
A: I am going to let Coach [Mike] Zimmer and Rick [Spielman] handle that when that announcement will be made if that’s happened.
Q: Can you speak about how Stefon Diggs has looked since you’ve been with him?
A: I love that guy. He is exactly what you want in a player, and in my mind a superstar player. He is smart, he loves football, he is assignment-sound, coachable, has a lot of energy, explosive and he catches the football. I think that describes pretty good receivers in this league. If that is the case, we are thrilled he is a Viking.
Q: Can you talk about the mentality of Dalvin Cook getting back out to practice?
A: I didn’t see any signs that he was holding back or anything. He really looks like he is trusting that knee. He is explosive. I thought he’s done a great job in pass protection. I don’t see any hindrance out of him at all. We are continuing to monitor his reps and making sure that knee stays healthy and stays fresh throughout camp. It’s a long camp until we get to the regular season.
Q: Is it exciting to see Stefon Diggs turn it on even more and shines when he gets in a game situation and the spotlight?
A: Absolutely. That is their stage. I want guys to have fun. I want their personalities to show on the field. That is what this is all about. As long it’s not affecting the team and affecting their play, or getting us penalties and all those things, I want their emotions to show because that is what gets those guys going.
Q: What makes Stefon Diggs so effective despite not having a big frame?
A: I think number one is his speed. I think corners in this league have a really hard time knowing that, “Hey, he may run by me on a fade route”. They are going to give him a little bit of cushion, which opens the room for quick-outs, slants. It gives him room to catch and run with the football. He is strong enough to catch and run with the football, break a tackle and dive into the end zone. I think his overall speed and explosiveness is why I think you see some free access on him in the red zone.
Q: What have you seen from Mack Brown?
A: I like Mack. The number one thing you notice about Mack is the way he runs the ball with violence. When you are vying for a spot, I think that is huge. I always tell our players, “I never want to see anyone tiptoeing through the tulips’. That is just pitter-pattering running the route, going through the hole. He has been hitting the hole with explosiveness. He has been catching the football. We are pleased with his progress.
Q: Where do you see C.J. Ham fit in your scheme?
A: First off, if you just talk from a team standpoint before we get to offense, obviously he is one of our core-teamers. He helps the football team out that way playing all four special teams. When you break it down to just offense, it’s nice when you have a fullback in there. It allows your play action game, your two-back play action game to really take off. It obviously allows you to run the football with two backs and some old-school iso plays. You can run power with a fullback which, we love. I think whenever you have a fullback with an athletic guy, that is not just the old-school, “I’ve got a big old neck roll on”, type fullback that is just a straight ahead guy, I think that provides you a lot of position flexibility. The thing with C.J. which I love, he is still athletic enough to be able to move around and catch the football. You are going to see him moving around in a bunch of different spots in the fall if he keeps doing what he’s doing.
Q: How long does it typically take for a new quarterback and the center to get on the same page?
A: It depends. We are very fortunate that both of those guys love football. They’ve been communicating a bunch during the rookie camp. Pat [Elfien] was out here for practice and he and Kirk [Cousins] were going over everything together play-by-play. Would we love to have both of those guys out here on the field? 100 percent we would but that is not the case right now unfortunately. We are just fortunate that both of those guys are really, really bright guys and I don’t think it is going to take that long.
Q: What have you seen from Laquon Treadwell so far?
A: I’m really proud of that guy. He has worked his butt off to really improve. I think from what I’ve heard he has matured. You see a young man having some success and not letting that success go to his head. We are going to continually challenge him every single day to stay mentally focused. He can do that. There is no doubt in my mind he can do that. I’m really happy where he is right now. Obviously, you saw him make a bunch of plays yesterday in the red zone. With that body type, that is a unique guy. That is a big guy that can run fast so we need him to keep progressing.
Q: Where do you think Laquon Treadwell has improved based on watching him during the offseason and training camp?
A: I’ve just seen his routes be a lot more precise. I see him coming off the football with a little bit more violence. I see his blocking on the perimeter, more effort there. Better angles to get to the safety. So I think you just see an overall player maturing, not only on the field, but off the field as well. We’re really proud where he’s at right now.
Q: Have you been able to see where Laquon Treadwell’s ability for separation is coming from?
A: That was a heck of a catch. The one on the corner in the end zone, he was covered. That was great coverage by Xavier Rhodes. I know it looked like a pretty touchdown and all, but that was not an easy touchdown. The thing he does for a big man which he does a great job of leaning on people and understanding how to use his body. When you have a body like Laquon does, if you know how to use it you can really be a dangerous weapon.
Q: Why is Stefon Diggs so good at getting away from press coverage?
A: I think he’s got a lot of quick twitch, got a lot of quick twitch. He can change direction on a dime and defensive backs have to respect that. His press coverage is going to be a lot of times two yards and not one yard because the defensive back does not want to get beat over the top. Press coverage for him a lot of times is going to be a little bit different than some other guys. The thing that we’ve really stressed with him is well to do off the line of scrimmage is really use your hands. If the defensive back wants to be violent with you, you have to get violent back. That’s our ground too. We’re allowed to go there as well as the defensive back is. Attack angles on the defensive back, don’t attack him right down the middle, I think you saw that a little in spring with him, where he was attacking the defender right down the middle of him instead of attacking his shoulder and gaining leverage where he needs to go.
Q: How much can a receiver of Laquon Treadwell’s size help to go up and get it in the back of the end zone?
A: A lot, a lot. I think you saw us throw one to Kyle [Rudolph] back there and obviously Rudy is a really, really big man, but again that helps a lot. When you have two guys that are big men that can go up and get the football obviously that is going to help your red zone touchdown percentage, 100 percent.
Q: With Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, do you like backs that have different qualities or do you like a one, two punch where each brings the same thing?
A: I like really good players, and both of those guys are really good players. They both bring different things to the table. Obviously Latavius [Murray] is a bruiser-type back, but it can still be a three down back. There is no doubt in my mind that he can be a three-down back and wear people down. Obviously you see the explosiveness from Dalvin [Cook] and he can be a three down back as well because both of those guys are really, really good in pass protection. To me, I’m not really one to say, “Hey, we need three different body types in the back field”. We just want the best players we can get.
Q: Is Mike Boone showing you what you want to see as far as somebody who can be a change of pace back?
A: For a young guy, he runs really, really good routes out of the back field. He’s a mature guy. He takes pride in his job. He’s very mature for a rookie, very mature for a rookie. Doesn’t say much, just comes out here and does his job which is what you should do as a rookie, keep your mouth shut and do your job. I’m really, really pleased where he’s at right now. He’s done a really, really nice job. I’m really pleased where he’s at.
Q: Can you give an overall quick updated on just what you’ve seen with Trevor Siemian at the first week at camp?
A: I called out Trevor [Siemian] last night in the offensive meeting. I said this in front of the whole offense, that’s why I’m telling you. Trevor’s a guy that does simple better. He does simple better. I used an example, about Trevor, in front of the whole offense last night. He has a really simple thought process when he goes to the line of scrimmage. He doesn’t make it too hard. He doesn’t overthink. He gets the ball, he’ll check the ball down. If there’s a throw to be thrown down the field, he makes it. Trevor is playing much, much faster now than when he was here. We’ve really challenged him to speed up everything he does, and he’s accepted that challenge. He’s really done a nice job. I think you can see his play on the field these last few days has shown that.
Q: Can you gauge Brian O’Neill’s progress?
A: Brian [O’Neill’s] done a really good job. I read the other day, somebody wrote a story about six thousand calories which was new to me. Pretty neat story, whoever wrote that, so thanks for that information. He’s getting better every day. Watch him get to the second level today. He gets there with ease. Now the thing he needs to keep working on is his anchor, his hands, and his angles in pass protection. You see a guy get to the second level like him, it’s pretty special.
Q: What do you see in just how well that Clancy Barone and Andrew Janocko step in for Tony Sparano?
A: They’ve done a fabulous job. Whenever you are dividing up responsibilities in a position room, in a position room as intimate as the offensive line room, you’ve got to really, really examine the people that are being involved in that decision. Both those guys have zero ego and they want to see the team win. There’s not going to be any push and pull with those two guys. Both guys are going to install, in front of the team, and are going to have equal voice and equal responsibility. It was an easy decision for us to make to go that direction because of those two guys. That’s a credit to them. They’ve done a fantastic job at stepping up.