Pat Shurmur had the “interim” tag removed from his title as the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator after the 2016, but as he puts his stamp on the 2017 offense, he will be doing so with several new position coaches.
The latest to be added to the staff is Darrell Hazell (pictured), the former Purdue and Kent State head coach that will be joining the staff as a receivers coach. He replaces George Stewart, who left to become the special teams coordinator with the Los Angeles Chargers.
“I think his background is really in receiver play,” Shurmur said of Hazell. “He went on to become the head coach at Kent State and then Purdue. But when we sat down and visited with him, we felt he’s a guy that can come and teach our receivers extremely well.”
Hazell first starting coaching receivers in 1988 at Eastern Illinois and held a variety of jobs throughout the college ranks since then, including receivers coach at Western Michigan (1995-96), Army (1997-98), Rutgers (2001-02) and Ohio State (2004-10) before becoming the head coach at Kent State (2011-12) and Purdue (2013-16).
He hasn’t coached with anyone on the Vikings’ current coaching staff.
“I knew of him, but nobody on our staff had worked with him,” Shurmur said. “It really came through the interview process and having a chance to visit with him.”
To replace Shurmur as the tight ends coach, a position he was originally hired to oversee last year before the resignation of offensive coordinator Norv Turner, the Vikings hired Clancy Barone, who had spent eight years with the Denver Broncos and brings experience with the offensive line and tight ends in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons and San Diego Chargers before joining the Broncos.
“Clancy obviously has had success every place he’s been,” Shurmur said. “… I think it’s important from the tight end position that you have a guy that can talk and teach fundamentally the skills involved with blocking and he’s certainly got that background, as well as being able to really instruct them in the passing game. So that’s why Clancy.
Shurmur talked about better efficiency and explosiveness in the running game and sees Barone’s work with offensive linemen and tight ends being helpful in the run-blocking game.
“I think it’s always an effort to make sure that the tight ends are trained the right way in the blocking schemes,” Shurmur said. “I thought Kyle [Rudolph] did an improved job last year in blocking. He had great production in the passing game, but he did good blocking and then we have some young players that need to develop in that position as well. That’s part of their job description and being able to block for the run game is an important piece to that.”
The Vikings finished last in the NFL in rushing yards. Part of that was likely due to Adrian Peterson playing in only three games and an offensive line depleted by injury. But, as the Vikings made changes to the offensive coaching staff, adding a different running backs coach was part of the process.
Kennedy Polamalu, who coached running backs and was the offensive coordinator at UCLA before joining the Vikings, brings 25 years of coaching experience, including six seasons leading the Browns (2004) and Jaguars (2005-09) running backs.
“He’s had success in college. He’s also been at the pro level coaching running backs,” Shurmur said. “He recently was an offensive coordinator at UCLA. He’s another guy I think that could do a really good job teaching the guys the fundamentals and helping inspire them to play well.
“I feel great about the coaches and the players that we have. So we’re just going to use them in a way that highlights their talents and kind of minimizes the things that don’t work.”