So if anyone has a feel for what Shurmur – the Vikings’ interim offensive coordinator after Norv Turner resigned on Wednesday – will bring to the offense, it would be Bradford.
“Halfway through the season, I’m not really sure if you can completely change an offense and the terminology for everyone,” Bradford said.
That was essentially the feeling on Wednesday as players arrived at Winter Park and digested the news of Turner’s resignation. Some heard about it on their way to the Vikings’ headquarters from media reports. Others, like running back Matt Asiata, had no idea until he was surrounded by a horde of media in the locker room with only a towel around his waist and told of the news.
It would be difficult, to say the least, to overhaul the scheme the Vikings run seven games into the season. However, the way in which they run it – the plays that are selected for the week, which ones are called, and the pace with which they operate could be the immediate revisions.
“Obviously you know Sam was with Chip Kelly last year and he was there, so that is a totally different offense than what Norv had,” said quarterback Taylor Heinicke. “You see some of that and then some of the plays that we have. I think it’s a great mix-up and I think it works well with each other.”
Heinicke has seen Turner’s offense operate without Shurmur’s influence in 2015 and then this year with the influence of Turner and offensive line coach Tony Sparano in 2016. There has been an increased use of the wildcat – the running back taking the direct snap and making a read on the play – since Shurmur and Sparano joined.
But as the Vikings entered the fourth quarter of their last two games trailing by at least two scores, there appeared to be little urgency with the offense. With Shurmur experiencing Kelly’s fast-paced style in Philadelphia, that could change, at least when a comeback is needed.
“Every week it all changes. There’s new plays, there’s new play-calling. There’s new everything every week. It’s hard to say,” Heinicke said. “You watch the film every week, there’s a new play or new plays based on what we see on film or what we feel comfortable with.
“I feel like every offense is like that. You just want to see what works and go from there.”
Sparano is believed to be the one that advocated most of the implementation of the wildcat. He is the offensive line coach, but on Wednesday Shurmur made a point to go over and talk to the offensive line – the most vilified group in this struggling offense – during Wednesday’s practice.
“He came up to us today and said he believes in us. We just can’t hear the noise outside of the building. We’ve got to believe in ourselves and play with confidence on Sunday,” guard Brandon Fusco said. “I think we’ve got a chip on our shoulder, especially these past two weeks. It’s just not us. We’re just ready to get back on the field Sunday and show everyone what we can do.”
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Fusco called himself out for a poor performance on Monday night, when Bradord was sacked five times to bring his two-game total to 11 sacks in the team’s two losses on consecutive weeks.
However, the promotion of Shurmur likely won’t affect the blocking schemes, leaving the improvement there to come from better execution.
“There’s no impact. I think everything stays the same,” Fusco said of the offensive line under Shurmur. “I think the mentality is going to stay the same. Shurm was here the whole time so nothing is going to change. Up front, we’ve just got to come out with a physical mindset and be ready to go.”
The Vikings have the 31st-ranked offense – 31st rushing and 28th passing.
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The Eagles ranked second, fifth and 12th in yards when Shurmur was the offensive coordinator there. However, when Shurmur was the offensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams in 2009-10, they were 29th and 26th in yards.
Heinicke said it is too early to tell what kind of changes Shurmur could implement, but he has seen the influence of Shurmur and Sparano on the offense this year before Turner’s resignation.
“(Shurmur) worked with Sam in St. Louis and Philly so he knows what Sam is comfortable with and what he’s good at and stuff like that. He’s kind of brought a different side of it to what Norv had and Scott Turner and all them had,” Heinicke said. “It’s kind of cool how this offense is kind of evolving. It’s something pretty cool. He’s had a little bit of an impact here. I’m kind of curious to see what else he has.”null