There isn’t a fan worth his face paint that doesn’t think he could do Pat Shurmur’s job better than Shurmur does it.
Shurmur, you see, is an NFL offensive coordinator. As a game-day play-caller, the torches and pitch forks that shadow his every move in bad times and good are always within arm’s reach of that fan — or reporter — who insists that every failed run should have been a pass, and vice versa.
Shurmur is 52 now. His second season with the Vikings is his 19th in the NFL. He’s a different person today than he was two decades ago.
“Early on in my career, I would say I don’t listen to all the outside stuff, but I did,” Shurmur said. “At this point, I really don’t. I’m not searching for praise or affirmation or criticism outside this building.”
Well, Pat, now would be a good time to take a peek for the praise.
The Vikings have the NFL’s No. 2-ranked offense. The last time that sentence was typed, it was Week 10 of the 2004 season.
Since Shurmur’s interim tag was dropped, the Vikings have played three games using two quarterbacks. Sam Bradford posted his career-high passer rating (143.0) in Week 1. Two weeks later, Case Keenum did the same thing (142.1).
The Vikings have the league’s second-leading rusher in Dalvin Cook. They also have the second- and third-leading receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
So, c’mon, Pat, you know you want to hear what people are saying. Right?
“I feel a responsibility to the Minnesota Vikings and the guys that work here to give them my best shot and my best effort and my best decisions,” Shurmur said. “You’re making 65 to 70 decisions in 25 seconds or less, but I’m not searching for anything outside the building.
“I don’t have Facebook or Snapchat or any of that. I kind of hear from my kids what’s going on, but I make a conscious effort not to be doing that.”
The Vikings play the Lions on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Detroit’s offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter, is widely praised for taking Matthew Stafford to the next step in his elite-level career.
In fact, the Lions have a page in their weekly release dedicated to all the wonderful things their offense has done since Cooter was promoted with eight games left in the 2015 season.
For instance, under Jim Bob, the Lions have the sixth-highest passer rating (99.0), the sixth-highest completion percentage (66.6), the second-best red-zone touchdown percentage (63.1), the third-most red-zone passing touchdowns (38) and the fifth-best winning percentage (17-10).
“I think the scheme fits our players,” said Lions coach Jim Caldwell, who promoted Cooter because of his familiarity with the offense the Colts ran when Caldwell was in Indianapolis.
“[Cooter] is an excellent teacher. We’re not there yet. We have not arrived. We’re a long, long way away. But we’re working and I think we’re going in the right direction.”
Caldwell knows what it’s like as a play-caller. After being fired in Indianapolis, he ended up in Baltimore. When the Ravens were struggling in 2012, they fired the offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, and promoted Caldwell.
Everything fell together just right and the Ravens ended up winning the Super Bowl. Yet, even then, Caldwell said he resisted the urge to read or listen to the outside noise.
“I think for the most part guys who have been in this business know better,” Caldwell said. “I think that’s probably the healthy way to go about it because nowadays, with all the information out there, it’s saturated and is coming from all different directions.
“And it doesn’t serve any purpose, win or lose. Flattery is like flowers. You can smell it but you can’t eat it. And on the other side of it, when things aren’t going well, nobody knows your team better than you do.”
But there sure are a lot of people who think they do and aren’t afraid to say so.
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL