Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards will have a number of influential advisors surrounding him.
First, head coach Mike Zimmer built his reputation on coordinating successful defenses in Cincinnati and Dallas. Second, Edwards has another former defensive coordinator on his staff in defensive backs coach Jerry Gray, another highly respected defensive mind in the NFL.
While the Vikings aren't proclaiming any specific defensive scheme just yet – and might not for months – there is an overriding sentiment that variety will prevail.
"I think it's critical, especially when you're talking about, in our division, affecting the throw of the quarterback, getting after the quarterback, being able to attack him, being able to do certain things in coverage, as far as matchups and those kinds of things," Edwards said. "I think (mixing up the defenses) will be critical for us."
Throughout a 10-minute interview last week, Edwards repeatedly insisted that he is still reviewing film of last year's personnel on the Vikings defense and therefore offered few specifics on particular players. But once he gets a better feel for what his inherited defenders are capable of, he knows how he will approach the schematics.
"As we're working through this process, we're going to see what our guys can to do and try to get them in the best position, whether we're playing man or zone, or man within a zone, whatever concept we need to properly match the personnel that we have," Edwards said.
"Through this evaluation process – and I know this about Coach Zimmer – we're going to play the best players. At the end of the day, we want it to be competitive, each and every day that we're out here, whether it's in practice, whether it's in preparation for a game, whatever it is, we want to be competitive. And the guys that are going to come out and do that consistently, day in and day out, are the guys that are going to help us."
The Vikings were often accused of being too predictable and bland on defense since employing the Tampa-2 as their base defense in 2006 under former head coach Brad Childress and defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin. That didn't change when Leslie Frazier took over the defense in 2007 and then head-coaching duties in November 2011.
In recent years, Frazier and former defensive coordinator Alan Williams stressed that they mixed up their defenses and the Tampa-2 or Cover-2 concepts were just a starting point. Still, the sentiment that they didn't infuse enough variety into the defense remained.
Under Zimmer and Edwards, the Vikings are expected to give different looks more often, but the tenants of the technique and philosophy remain the same.
"I think this game is pretty simple. I don't think it's very hard. You've got to be able to get off a block, and you've got to be able to tackle. I mean, those two things are the biggest emphasis," Edwards said. "So it's not that complicated. You keep it simple, let guys play with the ability that they have, ask them to do things that they can do, and try to keep them out of bad matchups."
And keep the players focused on improvement and maximizing potential, which Zimmer has been credited with successfully implementing in his defenders for years.
"It's going to be a common message amongst all of us – getting the most out of your ability every day. We want it to be competitive every day. That's going to be what we're going to try to do each and every day out here."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Edwards: Variety overrides scheme
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