He was forced into a decision midseason when then-coordinator Norv Turner resigned on Nov. 1 and Zimmer made the logical choice of promoting Pat Shurmur from tight ends coach to interim coordinator. These days, Zimmer won’t be forced into a quick decision, although it seems one is likely coming.
“I do think that Pat did a very, very good job, especially under the circumstances he was put in,” Zimmer said on Tuesday. “I think offensively we improved a lot in the passing and running game, the statistics (from) when we started going and things we’ve done after that. He had a great relationship with Sam (Bradford); I think the offensive players respect him. We’ll just figure all those things out.”
A week earlier, Zimmer said his tracking of the offense showed in improvement in most areas of the offense under Shurmur when compared to Turner.
What’s the truth? In this case, Zimmer speaks the truth.
Passing game comparison
Under Norv Turner’s guidance – and it’s worth noting that he a greater percentage of starters available to him early in the year than Shurmur did in the second half of the season – the per-game passing stats averages when like this: 34 passing attempts, 22 completions, 240 yards, 1.1 touchdowns, 2.7 sacks and a passer rating of 95.3.
Under Shurmur, the per-game passing averages were this: 39 attempts, 29 completions, 272 yards, 1.3 touchdowns, 2.1 sacks and a passer rating of 99.7.
The only area that was worse under Shurmur was interceptions. In seven games under Turner, Shaun Hill and Sam Bradford threw just one interception (by Bradford). In nine games under Shurmur, they threw four interceptions.
Perhaps the argument could be made that the passing game improved because Bradford became more comfortable with the offense the more time he had with it; in other words, the passing game may have improved if Turner had stayed on the job throughout the season. But an argument could also be made in Shurmur’s favor when discussing the fact that he didn’t have the opportunity to implement his philosophies with an offseason of work with his players.
Running game comparison
In Turner’s seven games as the coordinator, the Vikings averaged 27 rushing attempts for 71.8 yards. They averaged 2.66 yards per carry.
In Shurmur’s nine games calling the plays, the Vikings averaged 21 rushing attempts for 78 yards. They averaged 3.67 yards per carry.
And it’s worth noting again that the offensive line was in even worse shape later in the season under Shurmur.
“Going into this season last year, I thought we were going to be in good shape, and obviously we had a lot of things happen,” Zimmer said when talking about the offensive line. “We’re going to evaluate all that. We’re going to look at all those things, but not just the offensive line.”
Zimmer and the front office will have plenty of decisions in the coming weeks and months as he contemplates changes with the staff and the roster. For now, however, it would seem that Shurmur should retain the offensive coordinator’s post.
“I’m going to take some time this week to try to figure out things, step back a little bit where I can recharge my thinking of where we want to go and how we want to do things, not just with Pat but with everybody,” Zimmer said.