Although he’s been with the Minnesota Vikings for the entirety of the Mike Zimmer Administration with the organization, defensive coordinator George Edwards has remained largely anonymous.
When the discussion has concerned the Minnesota offense, it was either described as Norv Turner or Pat Shurmur being at the helm. But, when talk has ever been about the Vikings defense, it’s Zimmer’s name that is the one constantly associated with it.
With Zimmer sidelined until early June as he recovers from his eighth eye procedure, Edwards has stepped forward as the man truly in charge of the defense during the early OTA sessions.
Edwards is working out the defensive players, yet said with Zim sidelined, a lot of people are picking up the slack in the interim, but Zimmer is still large and in charge – even if he is off-campus.
“I think it is a culmination of things,” Edwards said. “We are in constant communication with him. We are relaying his message and his vision for this football team and I think everyone is pitching in to make sure we work through what we need to work through and get improvement in areas we need to improve.”
One of the best things the team has going for them during Zimmer’s absence is that, while there are plenty of new faces and young veteran players having their roles being redefined in 2017, with a couple of notable exceptions (Captain Munnerlyn and Chad Greenway), the majority of the key defensive players are back.
Having that continuity has made the flow of the OTA workouts and the expectations placed upon players something that has a comfort level that can withstand being without the head honcho on site.
“That has definitely been a blessing,” Edwards said. “Some of guys have been here for over three years for us, some two, but having that continuity, especially on our side of the ball, has been a blessing when it comes to communication, the different techniques and fundamentals, and things we are working on schematically through this period.”
Edwards declined to assign the Munnerlyn-vacated position to Mackensie Alexander – claiming that competition is what matters – whether at recently open positions or established players with notches earned on their belts.
“You always hate to lose guys, but at the end of the day it is part of pro football,” Edwards said. “We have some young guys or inexperienced guys that are working and we are looking forward to seeing them improve each day as we keep progressing through this journey.”
A lot has been made of Zimmer’s absence, but, as far as the Vikings defense is concerned, the store is in good hands. Edwards has been involved in the show for some time – just not given the much credit for it.