Adam Thielen: Blame the players, not the offensive coordinator

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Another lackluster offensive showing against the Seahawks has sparked fresh criticism of Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, the presumed future NFL head coach who is struggling in his first year coaching all of an NFL offense. Vikings receiver Adam Thielen said after the 21-7 loss in Seattle that the criticism shouldn’t be directed at the guy designing and calling the plays.

“You hear the [offensive] coordinator is getting a lot of ridicule but it’s about the players,” Thielen said, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “Players got to make the plays. It doesn’t matter what play is called, you have to run that play and you have to be successful on it and it just comes down to execution.”

It’s admirable for Thielen to take the blame (then again, it’s not as if he’s in danger of being fired), but he’s incorrect. Yes, the players need to execute the plays. But the job of the coordinator is to come up with ideas and concepts that will work against a given opponent, and to pick the right plays to use at the right time.

The goal is to exploit the weaknesses of a defense, to keep it guessing as to whether the next play will be a run or a pass, and to otherwise win the psychological battle that happens throughout the three hours during which the game unfolds. The defense needs to be constantly on its heels, constantly wondering what’s going on and what’s going to happen next, constantly going to the sidelines after a drive to try to pick up the pieces and stop the bleeding.

The Vikings failed to do that to the Seattle defense last night, at any time during the game that it mattered. Thielen can try to blame it on the players for not executing the plays. The truth is that DeFilippo failed to design and to call the right plays at the right time.

The broader truth is that coach Mike Zimmer has failed to entrust the offense to someone who can consistently do what needs to be done to complement a defense that somehow kept the Vikings in the game until the dam finally broke late in the fourth quarter.

25 responses to “Adam Thielen: Blame the players, not the offensive coordinator

  1. If the Vikings OC doesn’t keep you guessing Kirk Cousins will that negative 4 yard check down, instead of the 20 yard pass downfield who either beat man coverage or found a vERY soft spot in the zone. Was crazy.

    Easily the most silly play of the night.. umtil Wilson had that brain fart before halftime.

  2. This is not Flip’s first year of coaching “all of an NFL offense” (unless it’s a Browns joke) He was the Browns OC for one year and he was mediocre at best.

    Flip is to OC as Shurmur is to HC. Both of them need to go down a level

    If anyone is serious about hiring an innovative (and common sense) OC then Freddie Kitchens is the man.

  3. Hell no! The blame is not addressing the glairing need at offensive linemen by Rick Spielman. Perhaps it is time the owner plays a Jerry Jones hand and forced their GM to address one of the worst Offensive line in the league, Spielman said he didn’t need to spend over 5th through 7th picks on the big guys because Spielman thinks he can whip them into linemen… WRONG! and this team is embarrassment to watch on offense. Cousins is a one trick pony, but he rairly has more than 2 1/2 seconds to get rid of the ball! When he has an open lane he chooses to check down instead of hoofing it.. Flip just isn’t getting it.

  4. I agree that much of the problem lies with DeFilippo’s play calling but I disagree with the article’s assessment of what he’s doing wrong. Watching that offense it seems as if he is trying too hard to play the creative psychological play-calling game and not trusting his guys to execute simple fundamental football plays. There is absolutely no need to get fancy on goal-to-go plays, for example. You simply pound it in and score. You trust that your guys are pro athletes who want it badly enough to win the physical battle. He quits on the run even when it’s working. He’s not calling fundamental, basic plays often enough because he’s trying to fool the defense, and they’re never fooled by him.

  5. It’s a combination of things.

    DeFilippo has been awful though. He’s in way over his head.
    Offensive line is straight up atrocious.
    Cousins isn’t good enough to carry a team and he turns the ball over in crucial situations.

  6. Thielen is just being a team guy. It’s not the players fault to call for a 2 yard pass on 1st and 10, then call for a deep pass on 3rd and 1. Yes the O line is terrible but DeFlippo is so concerned about trying to show he deserves a HC job that he forgets to be a good OC. Cousins is a terrible QB, many times last night he could have gotten the ball out earlier and completed a pass but he either took a sack, threw it away or threw it to the wrong guy. This signing will set up back for at least 2 more years. Should have kept Keenum & Bridgewater, they are mobile, Cousins has cement feet.

  7. The QB is the same guy that was in Washington, no different even when surrounded by a better team. He is a quality backup QB.

  8. Fire oc, give job to mike McCarthy!😀 should a called plays that work on tha given nite. Dfense would not have had to work so hard

  9. The 4th down pass to Rudolph from the 2 is a great example of Flip’s lack of scheming. Most teams run a pick or rub play from a bunch formation or some motion with a WR in the backfield to flood a zone or create a logjam in the Defense for the defender to fight thru. Usually easy pickings. Last year they ran those concepts often, especially a WR in motion. Instead Flip goes 4- wide, running right into the defender in front of them, creating no space. Theilen broke open too late. He won’t go up tempo in the first half to get some momentum, 3rd and 1 run plays they need to go bigger than just their 2 weak blocking TE’s, try a power I with an extra lineman in the backfield so the upbacks can clean up the garbage that leaks thru that middle. I’m tired of watching other teams find ways to convert these opps and the Vikes continue to do what has been so unsuccessful.

  10. This article is dead on. Nothing needs to be added. Flip needs to be fired today to give this offense a chance. They probably only need to go 2-1 in last three to make the playoffs.

  11. TheDPR says:
    December 11, 2018 at 8:38 am
    There is absolutely no need to get fancy on goal-to-go plays, for example. You simply pound it in and score. You trust that your guys are pro athletes who want it badly enough to win the physical battle. He quits on the run even when it’s working. He’s not calling fundamental, basic plays often enough because he’s trying to fool the defense, and they’re never fooled by him.
    ///////////
    I’m not sure where you get this idea from. I have watched every single play this season, and I say you are 100% wrong. Flip tries to pound the ball with the big guys on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1. And they simply don’t get the job done. To simply beat your head against the wall and proclaim “who wants it bad enough” is pure stupidity. You have to scheme for your teams strengths. And, Flip’s offense is too simple. Not much movement presnap. No misdirection. Very few roll outs (which Cousins seems to be really good at). Completely uncreative offense in todays NFL. In other words, the exact opposite of what you think should be done.

  12. The next draft should be all offensive linemen. Seriously. They already have enough RBs, WRs, TEs, LBs, DBs, and defensive linemen.
    With seven picks or so, they should be able to find at least 3 good starters in the early rounds. Trade a couple practice squad players for veteran backups.

    Oh, and cut Flip loose. Not a good fit at all.

  13. hardheadedrb says:
    December 11, 2018 at 10:02 am
    The 4th down pass to Rudolph from the 2 is a great example of Flip’s lack of scheming. Most teams run a pick or rub play from a bunch formation or some motion with a WR in the backfield to flood a zone or create a logjam in the Defense for the defender to fight thru. Usually easy pickings. Last year they ran those concepts often, especially a WR in motion. Instead Flip goes 4- wide, running right into the defender in front of them, creating no space. Theilen broke open too late.
    _______________________

    Regardless if Thielen broke open “too late”, coverage dictated that the ball should have gone to Thielen. Rudolph was doubled. That one is on Cousins, not Flip.

    NOT TO MENTION the play would have never happened if Zimmer decided to take the points and cut the lead to 6-3. Dumb decision by coach. Again, not on Flip.

  14. Just for kicks I tracked down a Feb. 8 PFT story announcing the possible hiring of John DeFilippo by the Vikings.
    I expected to find the usual “now we’re going to win it all” comments. Surprisingly, with the exception of an enthusiastic one from kingthielanscourt, the comments were generally tempered. Props for keeping it real.
    The most prophetic comment came from packertruth, who flat out nailed it:

    February 8, 2018 at 10:40 pm
    “No matter who gets it, they won’t get along with Zimmer. Book.

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