Since 2011 Kyle Rudolph has served as the Vikings primary passing target as a tight end. Along that ride with him through Bill Musgrave, Norv Turner, Pat Shurmur and John DeFilippo Kevin Stefanski was studying and working the intricacies of the Minnesota Vikings offense.
In fact, for two seasons (2014-2015) Stefanski served directly with Rudolph as the Vikings tight ends coach. It was one of the stops from his tenure with Minnesota that has included time coaching with the quarterbacks, running backs and tight ends.
Now, Stefanski takes thirteen years of experience working with the Minnesota Vikings and packages it all up as the team's full-time offensive coordinator.
It's a decision that is said the be "especially good for the offense" and should be especially good for tight end Kyle Rudolph as well.
Below is the transcript of a Q&A that Rudolph did with the Minnesota Vikings yesterday after the hiring of Stefanski as O.C...
Q: What is your initial reaction to Kevin Stefanski being named the full-time offensive coordinator?
A: I think it’s good for our team and especially good for our offense, a guy that has a lot of familiarity with our roster. Obviously, he was our play caller for three weeks at the end of the year, and I though the did a phenomenal job after taking over in tough circumstances. Now, he will have the opportunity to be the guy and to run things his way for an entire offseason and have all of that extra preparation that comes along with it and not just be thrown into action in the middle of a season.
Q: How much will Stefanski’s familiarity with the roster and experience coaching multiple positions help?
A: I think it will be huge. I think Kevin has done a great job in his 13 years that he’s been with theVikings organization. Obviously, not any of our guys on offense have been around that long, but being in so many different roles on offense, he sees how everything works, but then going back to when he took over as a position coach in the tight end room, he’s coached the running backs and also quarterbacks. I think his familiarity with the different position groups will be huge in the way that he decides he wants to go moving forward.
Q: What was he like in the tight ends room and what did you look forward to in your interactions with him during that time?
A: I think one of the biggest things that always stood out to me in working with Kevin was how prepared he was on a weekly basis in making sure he provided us with every resource that we needed as players to be prepared to go out and win games on Sundays. He did a phenomenal job, whether it was cutups, handouts, whatever we needed to feel like we were most prepared to go out and play our best onSunday, he provided for us.
Q: When you see qualities like that in a position coach, do you start to consider that he could be a coordinator one day?
A: Definitely. In working with Kevin and seeing the way that he’s grown as a coach over our time together in the last eight years, you knew that he would be an offensive coordinator and a great offensive coordinator. Then, you see his name start to be mentioned in head coaching interviews, and that’s just a matter of time. He’s a great football coach, a guy that’s been around sports his whole life, obviously, with his dad being extremely successful with the 76ers, so he’s a guy that understands this business and the nature of this business. Him being a good coordinator like he was for us three weeks this year was no surprise to me.
Q: It’s only January, but does this news give you excitement for when OTAs return?
A: Definitely. I think any time you don’t meet expectations and your season ends before you think it will, there’s a sense of disappointment and bitterness initially, but then you shift to excitement for the opportunity of the next year. For us, I think I speak for a lot of guys on the team, that we can’t wait to get back to work in April and start building toward this team and what we can be in 2019 because we do realize the amount of talent that we have on our roster and the kind of guys that we have and the work ethic that guys have.
Q: Once he took over in the interim capacity, was there anything that surprised you or something that aligned with what you expected from him?
A: One of the things I knew he would do well was his command of the room. Going from a position coach when you’re dealing with a couple of guys to when you’re in charge of the entire offense, you’re in charge of 35 guys and you’ve got to sit in front of a room and deliver for every offensive coach on the staff, every offensive player. That role is not too big for him. It wasn’t the three weeks that he took over as interim offensive coordinator, and you knew that, just because of how prepared he was as a position coach. It was always easy for Kevin when he had his part of the game plan that he had to getup in front of the room and present, he was always confident in his preparation and work presentation, that you knew he was going to do it well when he had to do it full-time.
Q: Did you have a personal point of emphasis to help him succeed during the interim period?
A: We wanted to win as many games as possible and hopefully go on a big playoff run, so for us, it was all about working together to figure out, ‘What’s the best way to help our offense? What’s the best way to help us win games?’ Now, we’ll have an entire offseason to try to figure that out, but at the time, it was, ‘How can we get the most out of all of this potential and talent that we have on offense to allow us to help our team win games on Sundays?’