Pat Shurmur Is Calculated Hire By Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

By Brad Berreman

If we’ve learned anything from Mike Zimmer‘s first two years as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, it’s that no decision is made without a purpose. From acknowledging his lack of offensive acumen upon hiring Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator, to recommending a mentor to wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, Zimmer does things with the idea of improving end results and a lack of acknowledgement for public opinion.

The Vikings went 11-5 and won the NFC North this season, but the offense was not on a championship level. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater‘s development stalled, with Adrian Peterson back in the fold, as Minnesota finished the regular season 29th in total yardage (321.2 yards per game) and 31st in passing offense (183 yards per game).

OC Turner is an easy target for blame, but two expected starters along the Vikings’ offensive line missed the entire season and Peterson again showed that he is not a multi-faceted back who adapts well. Turner’s job security is not thought to be in doubt, and Zimmer said he expects the 63-year-old back next season, which makes Saturday’s reported hiring of Pat Shurmur interesting.

Jay Glazer of Fox Sports was first to report Minnesota’s hiring of Shurmur.

The Vikings lost running backs coach Kirby Wilson to the Cleveland Browns last week, and as of now that’s the only available position on the coaching staff. Shurmur mostly recently served as offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles for three seasons, taking over as interim head coach for the regular season finale this year, and he was head coach of the Browns for two seasons (2011 and 2012).

Shurmur has coached in the NFL since the 1999 season, starting with his initial stint with the Eagles, but he has never coached running backs. He had garnered interest from other teams, including the St. Louis Rams as a “passing game coordinator”candidate. Without a clear role available with the Vikings, their interest in Shurmur was notable, as was his willingness to take a job with the team after being interviewed.

Scott Turner, Norv’s son, has been the quarterbacks coach for the Vikings over the last two seasons. While Bridgewater’s regression this year should not reflect on his performance as a coach, it makes sense for the younger Turner to possibly shift to coaching running backs with Shurmur taking over as quarterbacks coach.

Shurmur’s acumen as a great offensive mind can be questioned, with a two-season stint (2009-10) as Rams offensive coordinator on his resume and Chip Kelly clearly holding the play-calling reigns in Philadelphia over the last three seasons. But adding another experienced coach to his staff, to go along with new offensive line coach Tony Sparano, is another sign that Zimmer carries little ego and welcomes input from assistants. Those are rare qualities for sure, and the Vikings are in line to make more progress next season as a result.

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