Bradford has had six different head coaches and offensive coordinators during his seven years as a pro and Vikings tight ends coach Pat Shurmur was his offensive coordinator for two of those seasons. The two were first introduced in 2010 when Shurmur was working for the St. Louis Rams and they drafted Bradford No. 1 overall. They were then reunited last season when Shurmur was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles and they traded for Bradford.
Shurmur played a vital role in bringing Bradford to Minnesota. He didn’t necessarily lobby for the Vikings to trade for him, but he provided valuable insight to general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer.
“I certainly have a very strong opinion about who he is as a player and a person,” Shurmur began, “but I really just told Rick and his staff, and coach Zim, what I knew about him and they took it from there.
“I think he has the three primary eliminates a quarterback needs: He’s an outstanding decision-maker, he’s extremely accurate and he understands timing. Those are the things you’re looking for in a quarterback and the first year when we were together, we drafted him in St. Louis after a 1-15 season and he played every snap as a rookie, and we were a couple plays from winning the division. So I saw the best of him at a young age, and then last year in Philadelphia, after he’d been through a lot, I saw him emerge and by the end of the season was playing extremely well.”
Shurmur has not worked a whole lot with Bradford since his arrival in Minnesota since he is the team’s tight ends coach. The quarterback has mostly been working with offensive coordinator Norv Turner and quarterbacks coach Scott Turner, but Shurmur is always willing to help out when asked.
The biggest thing that he is able to help with is translating the terminology that the Vikings are using in this offense compared to what they used last season with the Eagles. Teams will run the same plays, since there are only so many things a player can do with a route, but the difference comes from what those plays are called in different systems.
“Offenses tend to overlap and you use concepts from different things,” Shurmur said. “When we were together in St. Louis it was a huddle-based offense, much like here, and then last year with Chip (Kelly) we were more of a no-huddle, quicker-paced at the line of scrimmage (offense). I think our offense has elements of both, so from that standpoint I feel like I’ve been able to help him, but he’s certainly the guy who has to do it.
“Everybody has forms of four verticals. Everybody has forms of curl flats. Everybody has forms of crossing routes and you may call it an apple but a year ago we called it a pear. So it’s just a matter of saying, ‘OK, now it’s apple.’”
Bradford is currently trying to learn the Vikings’ playbook in a little over a week, where ideally a new quarterback will have an entire offseason and preseason to learn it. He was traded to the Vikings just eight days prior to the start of their regular season, but luckily for him, and the Vikings, he is a fast learner.
“Extremely fast. It’s probably going to help him because he’s had to learn a number of offenses in the last few years and he’s picking it up extremely quickly,” Shurmur said of Bradford. “We’re going to do things that’ll help him, but for the most part we’ve been all very, very impressed with how far he’s come in just a couple days.”