In his first year in Minnesota, Sam Bradford has had the best statistical season of his career. So of course the quarterback is “all for” the Vikings removing the interim tag from offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
“We have a really good relationship and feel for each other,” Bradford said Wednesday of Shurmur, who previously called the plays for him in St. Louis and Philadelphia. “So just the fact that we’ve been able to get back together and play in that offense, I think that has been enjoyable.”
As tight ends coach, Shurmur helped ease the transition for Bradford when he was acquired eight days before the season opener. And then, after offensive coordinator Norv Turner resigned in November, Shurmur was tabbed to replace Turner.
In 14 starts, Bradford has thrown 17 touchdown passes with only four interceptions. His 98.3 passer rating is the highest of his career. And his 71.3 completion percentage is on pace to set a single-season NFL record.
His four highest passing yardage totals this season have come under Shurmur.
“I think he has a great mind. I’ve learned a lot from him,” Bradford said. “I owe a lot to Pat, and it has been really fun … having him call the plays.”
Coach Mike Zimmer would not say whether Bradford’s input would factor into his decision. He did note that “most every area” improved under Shurmur.
Zimmer plans to “take a fresh, new look at everything,” saying that he will start evaluating his team a few days after this lost season ends.
“What I’m going to do is sit down, take a few days and kind of refresh everything in my mind, then I’ll make all kinds of decisions, evaluate a lot of different things,” he said. “I don’t want to make any rash decisions.”
Zimmer also reiterated that the Vikings, out of playoff contention at 7-8, plan to play Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears to win as opposed to using the season finale to get a look at younger, unproven players.
‘Good Guy’ Munnerlyn is repeat winner
For the second consecutive year, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn won the Korey Stringer Good Guy Award for his cooperation and candor with reporters, as chosen by the Twin Cities chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is the first back-to-back winner since Daunte Culpepper in 2003 and 2004.
Munnerlyn signed with the Vikings in 2014 and has been consistently chatty during open locker room sessions, after both wins and losses.
“It is truly a blessing to receive this award,” said Munnerlyn, who is set to become a free agent after the season. “To be back-to-back is like ‘Wow.’ We definitely have some good guys on this team, guys who like talking to the media. I don’t know if they like talking more than me.”
Running back Adrian Peterson (knee and groin), wide receiver Stefon Diggs (hip) and left guard Alex Boone (lower back) did not practice Wednesday. Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (ankle) also was listed on the injury report as a nonparticipant but was at least able to do some work on the side.
Fullback Zach Line and right guard Brandon Fusco, who both missed the Green Bay game because of concussions, were back as limited participants but still have not been cleared through the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Safety Harrison Smith (ankle) also practiced, on a limited basis, after making his return from an ankle injury on Saturday, so he seems likely to start against the Bears.
Also, rookie wide receiver Cayleb Jones, who was signed to the practice squad Wednesday, participated in his first practice with the Vikings.
Johnson is on the mend
Defensive tackle Tom Johnson popped into the open locker room for the first time since tearing a hamstring in Week 15. His injury did not require surgery, just rest and rehab for the next five or six weeks.
Johnson, an important role player in Zimmer’s defensive line rotation, had 17 tackles and two sacks in 14 games. The loss to the Packers was the first game that he has missed in three seasons with the Vikings.
“The hardest part of it was leaving my guys out there,” he said. “For me not to be out there is kind of a bummer. But hey, things happen.”