When Vikings coach Mike Zimmer signed Pat Shurmur as tight ends coach Jan. 24, Shurmur became the third Vikings assistant with previous NFL head coaching experience.
Between Shurmur, offensive coordinator Norv Turner and offensive line coach Tony Sparano, the Vikings now have more than 20 years of NFL head coaching experience working under Zimmer. Turner had 15 years between Washington, Oakland and San Diego. Sparano had four years in Miami and served as an interim head coach for part of one season with Oakland. Shurmur led the Browns for two years and was the Eagles’ interim coach last season after Chip Kelly was fired.
That experience is going to serve the Vikings in several ways, and Shurmur said Zimmer is the main reason he came to the team.
“Well, first I was attracted here because of Coach Zim,” Shurmur said. “I know he’s a tremendous leader. He’s already established a winning tradition here that is familiar to Vikings fans. I just felt like I wanted to be part of a winning organization. I’m very fond of Norv Turner and what he has done. I just felt like this would be a great place to work and hopefully contribute to more wins.”
Shurmur worked for the Eagles as a tight ends, offensive line and quarterbacks coach at various times between 1999-2008, then was the offensive coordinator for the Rams from 2009-2010, Browns head coach from 2011-2012, and Eagles offensive coordinator under Kelly from 2013-2015.
He said those early years in Philadelphia are when he and Zimmer began to form a relationship.
“Coach Zimmer and I became friends while we were working against one another,” Shurmur said. “I was at the Philadelphia Eagles and he was at the Dallas Cowboys as a defensive coordinator. I knew him then and he was terrific as far as defensive coordinator. He was a real son of a gun for us. Then I knew him when I was the head coach in Cleveland, he was the defensive coordinator for the Bengels. We had some pretty good battles. Because of those relationships, we became friends and it sort of started then.”
Shurmur said one of his big attributes as a coach is that he has been around football his whole life.
“I’m very fortunate,” he said. “As a young person, I was inspired to coach certainly by my father, but more significantly my uncle, Fritz Shurmur, who was the defensive coordinator with the Packers [1994-98]. I’ve been very fortunate. I played at Michigan State for George Perles. I worked for Andy Reid. I worked for Ty Willingham at Stanford. I was able to work for Mike Holmgren and most recently Chip Kelly. I’ve had some great experiences. I’ve had a chance to be a head coach already, and I’m just here to help contribute.”
Likes team, position
Shurmur has been either an NFL coordinator or head coach since 2009. One of the things that drew him to being a position coach with the Vikings was the stability of the staff and how professional the organization seemed.
“I thought this team played a very coordinated team game,” he said. “They were very good on defense, very good on special teams, and offensively they did a great job of running the football, controlling the ball, not turning it over. I thought they played well together. They won 11 games, which is hard to do in this league.”
Shurmur sees tight ends as an integral part of the Vikings’ offensive identity because they serve two purposes. They are an outlet for third-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and they play such a huge role in the running game.
Consider that Kyle Rudolph was second on the team with 49 receptions, and that Matt Asiata, Rhett Ellison and MyCole Pruitt all caught passes. Asiata (currently a free agent) and Zach Line (also a free agent whom the Vikings tendered Monday) also carried the ball, so it’s easy to see why Shurmur views them as so important.
“I think they’re a big part of what we do on offense, and I think you know a lot of what we do on offense obviously goes through the running back, Adrian Peterson,” Shurmur said. “I think Teddy Bridgewater has a great foundation to develop even further. So the tight ends are a big piece of that. For a young quarterback, typically, the easiest guy to find at times is the tight end because he’s so much closer to him.”
It takes a respected organization and head coach to bring in the level of coaching talent the Vikings have, and Shurmur is sure to have a great impact on an offense that will need to improve in 2016.
• The Mayo Clinic, which recently opened its sports medicine complex in downtown Minneapolis, received a write-up in the Wall Street Journal on their EXOS training system headquartered in Rochester. EXOS is used by some of the top athletes in the country, including a number of this year’s top-rated NFL draft picks, but Mayo is also working to get the system into more traditional workplaces for health programs.
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• While the Gophers hockey team is only ranked No. 19 in the latest USCHO.com national poll, it must give them some confidence that Michigan is ranked No. 9 overall and the Gophers are 2-2 against them this season and ahead of the Wolverines in the Big Ten standings.
• It’s a mystery why the Gophers missed out on Mr. Hockey in the state of Minnesota, Blaine forward Riley Tufte, who is going to play at Minnesota Duluth unless he turns pro immediately after being drafted.
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