Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
Kafka: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm sure a few of you have questions about some of the head coaching interview stuff. It's an honor and a privilege to be a part of those conversations and be a part of that process but really that's all I have to add on it. My focus today and this week is really on getting our guys ready for Minnesota and the week ahead and today's practice. That's really all I'll have on it. I really appreciate you guys respecting that part of it.
Q: Do you intend to do those eventually? Potentially next week?
A: I really have nothing else to add on it – the head coaching side of it.
Q: It's easy to look at the last game and the Vikings in particular and say don't let (Vikings cornerback) Patrick Peterson beat you. He did on that one route in particular down the stretch. How do you do your best to not let an All-Pro like that impact the game?
A: He's a talented player, probably going to be a Hall of Famer and All-Pro, perennial All-Pro, all over the field. He makes plays. He's a smart, instinctive player so we have to be smart with what we do and make sure our guys are detailed with what things we want to present that defense.
Q: Would it help the second time around to see him and them so closely?
A: Sure. It's a couple things. We've done it a couple times this year already, with quick turnarounds. It's one of those things where you evaluate it and make sure you have some complementary stuff and maybe some stuff they haven't seen.
Q: You threw it 40 times the first time you played the Vikings. Does that necessarily mean the game plan is predicated on what you did the first time?
A: Not necessarily. Every week is a little bit different. We got to make that we go through our process on evaluating what our guys do best, go through our game plan and make sure we have enough stuff for our guys to attack them, whether it's inside, outside, down the field, short, intermediate. You've just got to cover your bases and make sure you have complimentary stuff from stuff that you've done and stuff that you're good at.
Q: Your receiving corps has been maligned nationally. Not a story around here as much but just because of the moving parts and injury situation. Can you speak to the job that those guys have done and if there's a chip on their shoulder in that room a little bit?
A: First off, those guys – they put a lot of time in studying and prepping themselves, getting on the same page with the quarterback room. I think (wide receivers) coach (Mike) Groh has done a great job of getting those guys together as well, coaching the fundamentals and the techniques that we stress.
Q: Do you feel like there's any, obviously this question is for those guys, there is a little bit of a "show people what we can do" kind of thing? How difficult has it been for you bringing these guys back and forth?
A: When you're playing football, you want to play with emotion, and you want to play with a certain attitude. I think those guys bring it, they bring it to practice every day and they've been bringing it all season long.
Q: From an offensive coordinator's perspective, what makes (defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale) very good at what he does?
A: He mixes a lot of, not only just pressures but putting his personnel in different spots. He does as nice job mixing and matching those types of groups in different pressure packages that make it difficult and then tying in the back-end part of it, the coverage, the fronts. That's what ends up making it really difficult is they're so multiple.
Q: You've seen Minnesota have a rematch against their divisional opponents. Has their defense changed a lot in the second game or are they a team that kind of does what they do?
A: I think there's times when they do a little bit of both. I wouldn't say one way or the other. I think (Minnesota defensive coordinator) coach (Ed) Donatell is a talented coach. I had to play against him in the division when I was in Kansas City and so I know that those guys are well coached, they have good scheme, they do a nice job on defense and creating turnovers and they got us a couple of times. We'll be working to fix those things and making sure our guys are in the right spot.
Q: What is the key when you face a guy like (Minnesota outside linebacker) Za'Darius Smith who they move around so much? What is the key to the offensive side when you have a guy like that?
A: You got to know where he's at every single play. Between him and (Minnesota outside linebacker) Danielle Hunter. Those guys are talented edge rushers production-wise. They do a good job in the run game as well. You got to know where those guys are at on every single snap.
Q: Last week you talked about the idea of when you guys set out to build this offense it was a lot of plays and options off of the specific plays that you've run. When you go into a rematch so to speak against a team you've seen, does that create an advantage for you guys or at least give you more flexibility to know that what you did the first time, you can still run that but you have things that come off that they may not be anticipating?
A: It certainty gives you more flexibility because you've seen looks, you've seen how they may have defended a certain thing. You want to maybe use those techniques, use some of the leverages you've had to your advantage, whether in the run game, pass game, run action, RPOs. There's a few different schemes you can use to try and tie in, whether it's run game, drop-back game that end up maybe benefiting you down the road.
Q: Do you feel like you had a very good game plan? You had a season-high in yards in that game and you left some points on the board. Did you feel like that was one of your best offensive games of the year if you take away the turnovers?
A: That's a good one. I think the end result wasn't really what we wanted, so I think we've got to find ways to clean up some of the stuff that probably didn't go as well. When you look at when we're executing, that's great – that's our expectation. We're really focusing on how we can get better at those little things that maybe didn't go as well during that game.
Q: Does that go beyond the two turnovers? Were there more things beyond those turnovers?
A: There's always something you can work on. We look at it, we're really critical of that with every game, really. Speaking on that game specifically – go back to the fundamentals, your techniques, how we were running the ball, how were we throwing the ball, how can we build off those things. Do we have the right guys in the right spots? We go through that process so much that – that's what's what really, for us, that's what we look at so much. We detail that up and make sure that we feel good about it going into the game.
Q: When you look back at that matchup between (tackle) Evan (Neal) and (Minnesota outside linebacker Danielle) Hunter, how much of a focus is that going to be this time around? Whether it's giving him help or things he needs to do differently? It seemed like that was a challenge for him.
A: Every week, you got to go in with a plan. Evan's no different. He goes in, he comes to work every single day working on his fundamentals and techniques and he's going to work on those things that he saw on the tape. He's going to work to fix it and that's what he's doing. I'm happy with where he's been from yesterday and today.
Q: You aren't the only team that's left points off the board against them. Are they particularly a good red zone team? That seems to be the theme there. The Jets were there, down there a bunch of times and couldn't get it in.
A: Yeah, that's a point of emphasis today. That's what we're working on today with our game plan, to make sure that we can go down there and execute.
Q: What makes them good in the red zone?
A: They have good players and they have a good scheme. They're pretty sound at what they do, so the execution level has to go up an extra notch to be able to convert in those situations.
Q: (Wide receiver Isaiah) Hodgins had one of his best games of the season against Minnesota. What allowed him to be so successful that week and has he continued to progress?
A: Isaiah is one of those guys that really is very dependable. He's a tough kid. He can play multiple spots – inside and outside, so he has some flexibility within the offense. I think he's just like a lot of those guys in that room, he's gained the trust of (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) and they have a really good thing going right now. We'll keep continuing to build that.
Q: Most of us didn't really pay much attention to last week because it didn't have a lot of meaning. When a guy like (tight end Lawrence) Cager has a big game, does he become more of an option?
A: Every week, we'll look at the personnel groupings and see if we can find an edge for us. Cager's done that in the past, he had a nice one last week. That's on a week-to-week basis where we're at with that personnel grouping.
Q: You were talking about (Minnesota cornerback Patrick) Peterson, obviously, the way that he was challenging. Isaiah really didn't back down from that and it seemed like that kind of opened up some eyes to Isaiah's game. Did you guys know going in that he was going to attack the way he did against a guy like Peterson? I would imagine some of the younger guys might back off a little bit and be a little wary of a guy like that.
A: I think Isaiah, he's a competitive football player. I don't think it was necessarily for that game specially. You see it on tape, he competes versus all corners and linebackers and safeties, in the run game. He's just a competitive player.
Q: With the coaching interviews – do you not spend a minute preparing for those until next week or do you juggle it? Do you do an hour at night or something like that?
A: I understand that. I just have nothing else to add from what I said earlier today.
Q: Obviously you have a career, but how valuable would a consideration of maintaining continuity for Daniel (Jones) and for an offense for you to stay or leave?
A: Again, that kind of falls under the head coaching part of it. I really have nothing else to add from earlier today.