The Vikings were not the first team to inquire this offseason about making Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo their new offensive coordinator. By the time they lost the NFC Championship Game to the Eagles, and they knew they'd need someone to fill the job after Pat Shurmur became the New York Giants head coach, they would have to wait until after the Super Bowl even to speak with DeFilippo.
But when coach Mike Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman sat down with DeFilippo in Philadelphia on Thursday night, hours after the Eagles celebrated their first Super Bowl championship with a parade down Broad Street, they knew they had his attention.
"There were a few other opportunities to be an offensive coordinator in the league — I'm not going to name names — but when the Minnesota Vikings want to talk to you, that's a whole different ballgame," DeFilippo said Friday. "As an offensive coach, I've never been more on edge game-planning for a defense than them the last two years."
Now, DeFilippo will be in charge of helping the Vikings get past the team he just helped win a Lombardi Trophy.
The 39-year-old, who becomes an NFL offensive coordinator for the second time in his career, will succeed Shurmur as the Vikings offense enters a pivotal offseason. The new Vikings coordinator said he will "have as much say as they want me to" in the team's quarterback decision between three potential in-house free agents (Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum) and outside options, though he stressed the importance of the QB being "something we all agree on."
DeFilippo demurred when asked which quarterback he has coached — from Derek Carr and Carson Wentz to Nick Foles and Josh McCown — best epitomized what he's looking for in his offense.
But he made it clear a few things are non-negotiable: character, decision-making ability, timing and accuracy. And, he said, his quarterbacks have to be athletic.
"I am not a big believer in quarterbacks that are sticks in the mud back there; they're in cement back there at 7½ yards deep," he said. "Our quarterbacks are going to need to show some form of athleticism, yes."
The Vikings will be DeFilippo's eighth NFL team. He said he will bring elements of the high-powered Eagles offense — as well as other schemes in which he has worked — to Minnesota.
"At the same time, obviously, there are a lot of good things that the Minnesota Vikings did that we are going to continue to do," DeFilippo said. "We are going to mesh a bunch of different ideas and things that the players will be comfortable with, number one and things the coaching staff will be comfortable with, number two."
The Vikings' offense, beset by injuries and the surprising midseason resignation of offensive coordinator Norv Turner in 2016, jumped from 23rd to 10th in the league in total points last season, as Shurmur's work with Keenum and his play-calling touch helped him become a head coach for the second time.
DeFilippo, who interviewed for the Chicago Bears head coaching job and had interest from the Indianapolis Colts for theirs, said he saw plenty to like about the group he'll inherit — starting with running back Dalvin Cook, whom DeFilippo said he "loved" in last year's draft, as well as the wide receivers, tight end Kyle Rudolph and an improved offensive line.
"All of those things were very, very enticing about the job, on top of just the team itself," he said.