John DeFilippo celebrated a Super Bowl, then became an offensive coordinator, and now he will play a large role in the Minnesota Vikings’ biggest offseason decision: Selecting a quarterback.
The former Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach said on a conference call with the Twin Cities media on Friday that he expects to work with the front office and head coach Mike Zimmer to come to a consensus on which direction the team will go at the NFL’s most important position.
DiFilippo has worked with veteran and young quarterbacks along the way. Some have succeeded, some have not. He was in charge of helping JaMarcus Russell and Johnny Manziel in stints in Oakland and Cleveland, but was also tasked with Derek Carr and Carson Wentz.
Asked what the most important elements of a good quarterback are, DiFilippo named three aspects of a QB’s game that need to stand out in order to succeed.
— “Character is number one for me. If you have character at that position, you have a chance to succeed. If you don’t have it, you have zero chance to succeed. Number one we are going to look for a person that’s going to represent our football team the way and conduct himself the way we want both on and off the football field. That’s very, very important.
— “Number two, the three most important attributes of playing the quarterback position are decision making, timing and accuracy. So we’re going to heavily research into those three factors with whoever is the quarterback next year in Minnesota and really dig into those three areas.”
— “And finally, a guy that shows some form of leadership. You don’t need to be a rah-rah kind of guy all the time, but you need to show some form of leadership so other guys will follow you, look up to you and when times get tough will play for you. All those things I just mentioned are important components of the quarterback position.”
DeFilippo also discussed the need for athleticism at the QB position in today’s game.
“I think that’s part of it, there’s no doubt. And athleticism is a unique trait for a quarterback. There’s different types of athleticism for a quarterback. There’s guys like the Michael Vick types and those things and then there’s guys who have great athleticism moving their feet in the pocket keeping plays alive to extend plays. I’m not a big believer in quarterbacks who are a stick in the mud back there. They’re in cement back there at seven-and-a-half yards deep. Our quarterbacks are going to need to show some form of athleticism.”
The 39-year-old offensive coordinator received high praise for the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory. They were forced to turn the ball over to backup quarterback Nick Foles after likely MVP Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending knee injury in a game against the Rams.
DeFilippo turned to Foles to help determine what offensive strategies would help them continue to succeed on offense without their top QB.
“I sat him down and made him list me with our coaching staff, ‘What are your best concepts? What do you see yourself do well?'” DeFilippo said. “Because I’m not myself, Frank Reich, Doug Pederson, we’re not the ones out there throwing it. He is. So we sat down and spent time with Nick formulating game plans on what he felt comfortable doing. For me, that’s coaching. Why would you ask a player to do something that he’s not comfortable with? That’s good coaching to me. Nick was open and honest about things he was comfortable with.”
On the rise of Wentz from an up-and-down rookie to the face of the Eagles’ franchise, DeFilippo said Wentz learned from the mistakes in Year 1 to improve in Year 2.
“Situational football is a big part of winning games in the NFL. There were times where Carson wasn’t so great in situational football as a rookie. But he’s one of those types of guys who writes things down, he logs things in the back of his memory. He’s not what I call a ‘repeat offender.’ He’s not going to make the same mistake twice….he and I had a very long sitdown at the end of last year on five or six things that we really needed to focus on in the offseason and he really bought into those five or six things. I know that was a small piece of his success this season. The major piece was just getting him in there and letting him make mistakes and letting him make great plays. You can’t discount us throwing him in there and letting him play.:
The Vikings will have plenty of options at QB in 2018. Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum and Sam Bradford are all free agents beginning in March and there will be other quarterbacks available like Washington’s Kirk Cousins.
DeFilippo has worked with Josh McCown in Oakland and Cleveland. He might be a candidate for the backup QB position.