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Friday, February 7, 2014
Edwards wants variety in Vikings' defense

By Ben Goessling

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- In his first press conference with Twin Cities reporters Thursday afternoon, new Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards offered few specifics about the plans for the Vikings' defensive scheme.

New coach Mike Zimmer hasn't elaborated much on it, either, other than to say it will be similar to what he did as the Cincinnati Bengals' defensive coordinator.

The fact that Zimmer's main experience with the 3-4 defense came when Bill Parcells asked him to switch to that scheme in Dallas probably means that the Vikings will stick with a 4-3 base look. That's what the Bengals ran in Cincinnati, and it seems to be what Zimmer has preferred in his career.

But it is safe to say, however, that the Vikings will likely use more defensive packages than they did the last seven years under Leslie Frazier, first as defensive coordinator and then as head coach. The Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl with a hybrid of 4-3 and 3-4 defensive concepts, and though it's dangerous to assume any other team is capable of copying Seattle's results with different personnel, Edwards mentioned the need for variety on defense.

"I think [Seahawks defensive coordinator] Dan Quinn, they've done an excellent job out there defensively. I've worked with Dan before, and they've done an excellent job," Edwards said. "Again, I think what they did is, you look at it, they give a lot of different looks. They have a lot of different personnel, where they subbed in and out, different sub groups and those kinds of things, and they asked guys to do specific jobs. And I think they had a lot of success at it."

Zimmer's defenses have played more man coverage than the Vikings used under Frazier, and the Seahawks' coverage concepts, which allow their corners to jam receivers and match routes within a Cover-3 scheme, are likely to become trendy all over the league after Seattle's masterful defensive performance in the Super Bowl. Edwards has coached in both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, and at the very least, it seems the Vikings will have a more aggressive defense than they've had in the past. In many ways, the aptitude of modern quarterbacks almost demands it.

"I think it's critical, especially when you're talking about 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," Edwards said. "As far as matchups and those kinds of things. I think it'll be critical for us."