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Matt Patricia Conference Call Transcript: Vikings have dynamic players in run and pass game

Patriots Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, September 9, 2014.


Q: ** What do you see here from the Vikings offense in terms of the challenges they present to your defense?

MP: I mean, obviously we're looking at a very good offense here, just obviously had a strong performance. A team that is very explosive; has some dynamic players in both the run game and the pass game, followed up with a very smart quarterback who has a handle on the new system very well. [Offensive coordinator] Norv's [Turner] system is very quarterback friendly and the quarterback is allowed to really get the ball around to all the different skill players. [Norv] does a great job of using his tight ends and running backs in the passing game, which obviously they have some guys there that they're really doing a great job with, along with their vertical passing game with the receivers: [Greg] Jennings, obviously, [Cordarrelle] Patterson doing a great job. And then he's mixing in different types of ways to get the ball into their skill players' hands and get some explosive plays. I believe they had quite a few explosive runs the other day. They had six, which puts them top in the league coming out of the weekend. They did a great job, obviously, of points in the game. The rushing aspect and avenue they present with Peterson is obviously a huge challenge for us. A guy that is just so dynamic and so explosive, very strong and powerful runner and a guy that can really make an explosive play at any point in time. So certainly a great challenge for us this weekend to get after a team like this and to prepare and get ready to go. Certainly Matt Cassel is doing a great job in leading that offense, you're talking about a very competitive player, smart player, guy that can get the ball downfield and really spread it around to all the skill positions. Should be a big challenge for us.


Q: ** If I hear you right, they had six explosive plays?

MP: Yeah, very explosive run plays and possibilities, so including obviously Patterson who can get the ball in his hands and get out to the edge very quickly, along with Peterson. And really all the running backs do a good job with the ball in their hands. I think Norv does a good job of trying to find different ways to get those guys the ball, whether it's a direct handoff from the quarterback or some sort of toss play outside or whatever the case may be. I think those guys are all very dangerous and they can all run the ball extremely well.

Q: How do you define an explosive play? 10-plus yards? 15-plus? 20-plus? What makes it explosive in terms of yardage?

MP: Anything we're trying to take a look at where the runner has gained more than 10 yards is obviously a dynamic play in the run game. Certainly I would say in the run game, they do have a workhorse mentality with it, so they're going to keep pounding you with the run game until they break through. Certainly they've had a lot of success doing that.

Q: We've seen you run 3-4 and 4-3 in the past. What makes Chandler Jones a good fit at defensive end in that 3-4 look?

MP: Again, I think the ability for all our guys on the front and the back end to be able to play in multiple different positions would obviously help us week-in and week-out based on what we see as our best avenue to try to defend what the opponent is doing. Certainly a guy like Chandler who is an athletic, smart guy who can handle different positions for us allows us to have that flexibility.

Q: He seems to be a little lighter than some of the prototype defensive ends at that position. Does that ever put him at a disadvantage?


MP: ** I think the good thing is you know we're going to try to find the best position for our guys and put them in the position that they can handle and we feel comfortable that they can get the job done. We're certainly trying to put them in the right position to help the entire structure of the defense to try, like I said, to combat what the offense is doing

Q: You guys did a fairly good job on Charles Clay on Sunday. Is Kyle Rudolph a similar type player or does he bring a whole different set of stuff you have to worry about?

MP: I definitely think – obviously the tight end position for Minnesota, both [Rhett] Ellison and Rudolph, are very good players in the system that Norv runs. Rudolph is a guy that can really get downfield. He's a big guy. He has a big catch radius, so they can get the ball out to him in different facets. He's a guy that can go up and get the ball, so he's certainly going to be a key factor in their offense and a guy that we have to contend with, along with Ellison who will be out there also in their two-tight end sets. They move them around quite a bit, so there's a lot of shifting and motioning in this offense, so you have to try find them and see where they're at. They're trying to get the matchups that they can get and they feel comfortable with and then push the ball vertical or obviously in the run game and get the right blocking angles to put them in an advantageous position to get the run game going. Those two are certainly a big part of what they do. Rudolph is definitely a good fit for Norv's offense and what he likes to do with the tight ends. They become critical factors in the passing game, so it will be a big challenge for us.

Q: When you see them hand the ball off to Cordarrelle Patterson as he's coming in motion from left to right – in a way a similar play to what you guys ran with Julian Edelman in the opener – how does that put stress on a defense? It seems like we're seeing more of those plays.

MP: I think that's a great question. I think there are a lot of offenses right now that are using those types of plays where they have dynamic skill players at wide receiver that are really good with the ball in their hands. And it just gives the offense another way to put the ball in their hands without having to go through a traditional passing game to get it out there, where now they can catch and run. It gets it in their hands quickly. It marries up very well with a lot of teams that motion, so now it's a question of 'Is it motion? Is it a potential handoff situation?' Those types of plays usually hit very fast, they're on the edge very quickly of the defense and it's a huge recognition play for the defense to see it and be able to keep it contained. So I definitely see those types of plays, which have obviously been run for a while here, in the game. But obviously the skill players, it's another way for the coordinators to get the ball into their skill players' hands, to allow them to get a quick-hitting play into the defense and try to make a dynamic explosive play. That is definitely a difficult play to defend, and to see and to recognize, and certainly one that has had a lot of success.

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