By bringing in John DeFilippo, the Vikings ensure they’ll still have a bright offensive mind running the offense in 2018.
Everyone knew the Minnesota Vikings had a top-tier defense heading into the 2017 season. The team was ranked third in total defense (314.9 yards per game allowed) in 2016, and the nucleus of the defense returned.
What was surprising, though, was how well the offense operated—especially after it lost rookie running back Dalvin Cook for the season and turned to journeyman quarterback Case Keenum. As a team, the Vikings finished 11th in total offense (356.9 yards per game) and 10th in scoring (23.9 points per game), which is a credit to the job done by offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
When Shurmur parlayed his 2017 success into a head-coaching job with the New York Giants this offseason, it left Minnesota with a big hole at the OC position.
The Vikings’ answer was to bring in former Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday afternoon.
Fresh off a victory in Super Bowl LII, DeFilippo obviously brings a bit of championship experience to the Minnesota offense. However, this isn’t the only reason he’s a smart hire for a Vikings team looking to cash in on a championship window.
At just 39 years old, DeFilippo is a young up-and-comer in the NFL world. The former James Madison University quarterback has grown with the modern NFL game. With him, Minnesota won’t be making a return to an antiquated Norv Turner-style offense.
Instead, Vikings fans can expect a dynamic offense that takes advantage of the versatile weapons the team possesses. Some elements from Philadelphia’s seventh-ranked offense (365.8 yards per game) will likely come with DeFilippo—like multiple-tight-end passing formations, a wide variety of running plays, and possibly some of the increasingly trendy run-pass-option.
For a young coach, though, DeFilippo possesses plenty of experience. He’s been coaching 2000 and is heading into his 12th season at the NFL level. More importantly, DeFilippo is a seasoned quarterback tutor, a fact head coach Mike Zimmer highlighted when announcing his new hire.
Zimmer, per Edward Lewis of NFL.com:
We are very excited to add John to our staff. We took our time with the search and made sure we left no stone unturned to get the right fit. He has a track record of success and has proven to be a great teacher. We feel John will have good chemistry with our team and we are all eager to get to work.
DeFilippo spent the last two seasons grooming Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, who emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate in 2017 before suffering a torn ACL. He also coached Derek Carr during his rookie campaign with the Oakland Raiders in 2014.
In his one season as an offensive coordinator—with the Cleveland Browns—DeFilippo helped journeyman Josh McCown achieve a passer rating of 93.3. He also helped lead the Browns to their first season with 4,000-yards passing and 1,500 yards rushing since 1986.
What’s most attractive about DeFilippo, though, is the fact he helped integrate Nick Foles into Philadelphia’s offense after Wentz went down with the ACL injury. While Foles did have a few early stumbles, he was a terror on opposing defenses once he was comfortable running coordinator Frank Reich’s system.
As Vikings fans well know, Foles torched Minnesota’s vaunted defense for 352 yards and three touchdowns in the NFC title game. He then took apart the New England Patriots defense in the Super Bowl to the tune of 373 yards and three touchdowns (plus one receiving) while earning MVP honors.
If DeFilippo can help turn Foles into a legitimate starter on a championship team in a short amount of time, he may well be able to do the same for the Vikings.
Minnesota is without question staring down a Super Bowl window. The defense is one of the best in the game, the offensive line is a quality unit, and there are enough weapons on offense to make another deep postseason run. The problem is that the Vikings don’t know who will be leading the charge from under center in 2018.
Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater (pending an NFL decision) are all set to become free agents next month. The Vikings will need to decide on one of the three or bring in a new face to be the starter. Externals options include pending free agent Kirk Cousins and possible trade candidate Foles.
Though unlikely, drafting a quarterback could remain a possibility.
Even if next year’s starter is Bridgewater—as many suspect—it will be very much like bringing in a new quarterback. The last time he started a game was in 2015, when Turner was in charge of the play-calling.
Championship windows don’t remain open long, and the Vikings could be looking at one single offseason to prepare their quarterback to capitalize on theirs. DeFilippo is the man who can make the most of the upcoming opportunity.