It has been several weeks since the Vikings lost the NFC Championship Game to Philadelphia, but people still question how Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was able to wear out the Purple with long passes when he had looked incapable of that before the Vikings game.
In the NFC divisional playoffs when the Eagles defeated the Falcons, Foles completed just one pass over 15 yards, attempted just six passes over 10 yards and no passes over 22 yards.
Against the Vikings the next weekend, Foles threw eight passes over 15 yards, completed four passes over 20 yards, had four pass attempts over 30 yards and completed two passes, both for touchdowns, of 39 yards or longer.
Who better to explain that than John DeFilippo, who played a part in that game plan as the quarterbacks coach for the Eagles, and is now the offensive coordinator for the Vikings.
“The further we went along in Nick playing, I think it’s like anything where you knock the rust off,” DeFilippo said. “He didn’t play at all in the preseason. I think by that game he started to see the field a little bit better. I think we knew that to beat the Vikings we were going to have to get some chunk plays. We couldn’t play small ball with them.”
In an interesting twist, it was reported this week that the New York Jets wanted to interview DeFilippo for their offensive coordinator position going into the 2017 season, but Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie blocked that request, much like the Vikings did with quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski when Pat Shurmur wanted Stefanski for the New York Giants offensive coordinator position. The reason Lurie didn’t want DeFilippo to leave was so that he could continue working with Carson Wentz.
That worked out for the Eagles as Wentz became an MVP candidate before tearing his ACL late in the season.
And speaking of the odd nature of job openings and opportunities, DeFilippo said he has no regrets about taking the Vikings job even though the Eagles offensive coordinator position became available.
“None. I have been very fortunate. Every decision I have ever made I have no regrets,” he said. “It has been full speed ahead. The night I took this job was an incredible experience for me and my family, and I couldn’t be happier to be here.”
Not just the offense
So what excited DeFilippo most about this Vikings offense?
“Dalvin Cook I loved coming out of the draft; he was a fantastic player. The offense is very exciting, but for me it was just the team overall,” he said.
DeFilippo knows that the Vikings quarterback situation is unique, with three potential starters from last year’s roster being free agents. But he also knows that the Vikings have had seven starting quarterbacks since 2013.
“Right now we’re going to get it fixed, I know that,” he said. “It’s just a matter of choosing the right person to fit our culture and what we’re trying to do offensively. There’s no doubt that Rick Spielman, coach [Mike] Zimmer and myself will put our heads together and make the best decision that we think is the best for the Minnesota Vikings. That is the approach we’re going to take, and we’re in the middle of that process right now.”
DeFilippo said Case Keenum is the kind of quarterback that would give him a lot of options.
“Case brings a lot to the table. He’s athletic, you can change the launch point with him; he had a great deal of production this year, no doubt,” he said. “The thing you look at is does your quarterback win football games? Case Keenum helped this football team win a lot of football games last year.
“No one can hold that against him or what he has done here. If we decide to go that way with Case and Case decides he wants to be back then it will be full speed ahead.”
When it comes to Sam Bradford, DeFilippo knows him well but that means he knows the positives and the negatives.
“I love Sam. Sam is probably the purest passer I have ever coached,” DeFilippo said. “He is as accurate as they come in the NFL. Unfortunately for Sam he has battled the injury bug throughout his career, but I loved coaching Sam in Philadelphia. He and I still talk. We have mutual respect for each other.”
DeFilippo said that whoever starts at quarterback he will mold the offense to their game.
“I find myself being flexible to the guys that we have,” he said. “I spend a lot of time on really getting to know what our players do well so we can put them in the best position to succeed. We’ll never try to ask our players to do something he can’t do well. That is No. 1.
“No. 2, while I wouldn’t say I’m tough on the players I am demanding of the players, but at the same time they know I care for them as people. Those two things go along to being able to get your point across.”
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• As the Timberwolves try to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-2004 season, the final 21 games will be a tale of two stretches. In the Wolves’ first 11 games their opponents have a combined record of 370-263 (.585 winning percentage), while their final 10 opponents have a combined record of 242-332 (.422 winning percentage).
• It will be interesting to see what Gary Trent Jr., the former Apple Valley standout currently at Duke, decides to do following his freshman season. NBADraft.net’s mock draft has Trent as the 15th pick. But in ESPN’s most recent NBA mock draft, it didn’t have Trent going in the first or second round. One thing that could make his decision easier is that Duke has signed four top-10 high school basketball prospects in the country for next season, including his former teammate Tre Jones, which means his playing time might get cut.
Sid Hartman can be heard on WCCO AM-830 at 8:40 a.m. Monday and Friday, 2 p.m. Friday and 10:30 a.m. Sunday.