When the Minnesota Vikings were interviewing Pat Shurmur for a coaching position, there was some speculation that perhaps he would receive a bigger title than that of position coach.
Eventually, the Vikings settled on moving Kevin Stefanski from tight ends coach to running backs coach and having Shurmur coach tight ends. There are no additional duties for Shurmur other than those that the position coaches usually have, and no such description as “passing-game coordinator,” a designation that has become a fashionable way for teams give a coach more input without actually making him a coordinator of the offense or defense.
“We’re not really into titles,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said while scouting players at the Senior Bowl. “We just want guys that want to work and guys that want to be there. Pat was excited to be there. I think he was excited with the guys offensively to work with in (Kyle) Rudolph and also the team. I think he thinks they have a chance to do some good things.”
While Norv Turner remains the offensive coordinator, Zimmer likes the idea of bringing in coaches with experience in difference systems. Shurmur worked under Andy Reid running the West Coast offense in Philadelphia, then returned to Philadelphia to coach under Chip Kelly and his high-paced offense.
“He’s had experience. He’s been with a lot of different offenses, been a head coach, been an offensive coordinator. He’s coached the tight ends before,” Zimmer said. “He’s had some experience with the Philadelphia offense, the West Coast offense. I think it’s just good to get more guys in that have input.”
While the Vikings may look to implement some concepts of the West Coast offense or Kelly’s fast-paced offense in Philadelphia, it won’t become a staple by any stretch of the imagination. It doesn’t fit who the Vikings are right now, and might never fit Zimmer’s overall team philosophy.
“Maybe some of it, but we’re not going to have two-minute possessions on offense. We’re going to try to possess the ball if we can. But I’m sure there will be some concepts,” he said. “We looked at them quite a bit before, but I think every offense there’s things that you can implement – things you like and try to get better.”
Zimmer’s background is in defense and he continues to call the plays there, but he said after the season that he perhaps should have become more involved with the offense in his second year as head coach.
But as the head coach, he also keeps the overall dynamic of the team in mind, and having an offense that operates with the urgency that Kelly’s did in Philadelphia can also put unwarranted stress on a defense if the offense isn’t picking up first downs consistently. Three-and-out drives by the offense might mean only a minute or two of rest for the defense, forcing undue pressure on defenders.
“It does,” Zimmer said. “That’s not how we’re built to do that anyways. We try to remember it’s a team game – possessing the football, not turning it over, playing good defense. We won a few games doing it that way.”
So while Shurmur brings experience from different schemes, just as new offensive line coach Tony Sparano does, their primary focus is on the respective positions they are coaching with only the usual input from position coaches in a group effort to improve the offense.
“I would expect all our guys to have input,” Zimmer said, “the same amount of input.”