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Zulgad: Not reading much into Vikings’ decision to interview Shurmur? You should be

By Judd Zulgad

Despite Adrian Peterson’s exploits this season, the Vikings’ offense didn’t come close to living up to expectations.

Minnesota ranked 16th in points per game (22.8); 29th in average yards per game (321.2); and 31st in passing yards per game (183). Peterson’s 1,485 rushing yards might have led the NFL, but the running back and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater never really meshed and the 2014 first-round pick did not make the strides many expected.

This came under the watch of veteran offensive coordinator Norv Turner and his son, Scott, who serves as the Vikings’ quarterbacks coach. Mike Zimmer brought Norv aboard when he was hired for the first time as an NFL head coach in January 2014, a wise move by a guy whose clear-cut strength resided on the defensive side of the ball.

But two years and one playoff appearance into his head coaching career is it possible that Zimmer feels more confident with offensive matters and wants to make changes on that side of the ball?

That thought came to mind last week when Zimmer replaced fired offensive line coach Jeff Davidson with his buddy, Tony Sparano. The interesting thing about Sparano’s resume is it includes extensive experience on offense, including a season (2012) coordinating the New York Jets’ offense.

While the hire raised an eyebrow, it also resulted in a thought that his might have nothing to do with unhappiness when it came to 63-year-old Norv Turner. Let’s just say there have been accusations of sports-related paranoia towards yours truly before.

But the strong feeling that offensive changes might be coming at Winter Park – perhaps without Norv and Scott around – became far stronger on Thursday when it was reported the Vikings plan to interview Pat Shurmur on Friday.

This will come two days after the Vikings lost running backs coach Kirby Wilson to the Cleveland Browns staff.

Let’s make one thing clear: The Vikings might be talking to Shurmur because of Wilson’s departure but Shurmur wouldn’t bother making a trip to Minnesota to become Peterson’s position coach.

Shurmur served as Chip Kelly’s offensive coordinator in Philadelphia for three years before being let go by the team this week. He was the Cleveland Browns’ head coach for two seasons (2011-12) and before that coordinated the Rams’ offense for two years. Shurmur broke into the NFL as the Eagles’ tight ends and offensive line coach in 1999 before moving to quarterbacks coach and holding that job for seven seasons.

Shurmur, 50, is reportedly up for the running game coordinator job with the Rams and ESPN.com reports that two other teams might be interested in him as well.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure that the Vikings’ interest in Shurmur is either so they can create a job that would put him on near equal footing with Norv Turner – something that might be an attempt to get Turner to step aside with a year remaining on his contract – or so they can hire him to take over control of the quarterbacks, enabling him to work with Bridgewater. (Coordinator titles are now being handed out like candy, so how about quarterback coordinator?)

That could mean the Vikings would ask Scott Turner to move to another job, such as running backs coach. That is a position he has never coached in the NFL. How would Scott take this? How would Norv take this? Would Zimmer care about their reaction?

There’s a chance the answers could be as follows: not well, not well and no.

Keep in mind, Peterson made it clear that he wasn’t pleased with how he was in games in at least two games this season and there were rumblings that Bridgewater also expressed frustration with the offense behind the scenes. Zimmer also said he did not like the last play call made by Norv in the Vikings’ loss at Arizona in December that resulted in a Bridgewater sack and fumble with 13 seconds left and Minnesota in field-goal range.

Zimmer has become the conductor of a defense that was able to put the Vikings in the postseason in only his second season. That defense appears as if it will only get better, meaning a first-round playoff exit for the Vikings in 2016 would be seen as a failure.

The issue is the Vikings’ offense and Bridgewater are going to have to be far more productive if this team is going to make the type of progress that Zimmer wants to see.

If Zimmer decides that Shurmur is the guy to develop Bridgewater into a successful quarterback and get the Vikings to where they want to go, that will trump any concern he has about Norv and Scott remaining happy employees.

The post Zulgad: Not reading much into Vikings’ decision to interview Shurmur? You should be appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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