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Zulgad: Vikings won’t lack for offensive brainpower, but how will egos mesh?

By Judd Zulgad

When news broke last week that the Vikings were going to interview Pat Shurmur for a position on their coaching staff, the immediate thought was the veteran assistant wouldn’t take a job in Minnesota that didn’t involve him being either offensive coordinator or getting a fancy title that put him on even footing with current coordinator Norv Turner.

That opinion grew stronger Saturday night when it was reported that Shurmur had been hired by the Vikings for an undisclosed job. The silence coming from Winter Park late Saturday, all day Sunday and into Monday caused plenty of speculation about Shurmur’s new title.

The 50-year-old moved from the ranks of position coach to offensive coordinator in 2009, when he joined the St. Louis Rams, and had served as either a head coach or coordinator since then.

It was no secret Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wasn’t pleased with an offense that had ranked 29th in the NFL in yards per game (321.2); 16th in points per game (22.8); and next-to-last in passing yards per game (183) with first-round quarterback Teddy Bridgewater having an up-and-down season.

So was Zimmer planning to push Turner out the door? Or maybe cut ties or demote Norv’s son, Scott, who had served as Bridgewater’s quarterbacks coach the past two seasons?

The answer was none of the above.

The Vikings announced Monday afternoon that Shurmur would serve as tight ends coach and Kevin Stefanski would transition to working with the running backs. That job opened last week when Kirby Wilson left the Vikings to become run game coordinator for the Cleveland Browns. It also means with the recent addition of Tony Sparano as offensive line coach, the Vikings have three former NFL coaches/offensive coordinators working on that side of the ball.

As someone on Twitter pointed out, that’s a lot of chefs in the kitchen. If you believe that Shurmur is only going to work with tight ends, you just won a membership in the gullible club. Shurmur is certain to have influence and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Zimmer, who along with other members of the Vikings’ organization will spend this week in Mobile, Ala., scouting players participating in the Senior Bowl, will be asked how he expects the relationship between Turner and Shurmur, and maybe to a lesser degree Sparano, to work. Zimmer is certain to say all the right things on this topic.

Of course, if he was being completely honest, Zimmer would have to admit that he won’t know the answer until this collection starts to work together.

The decision to offer Shurmur the tight ends job was done because he at least has experience coaching that position. The last time he did it was in Philadelphia from 1999 to 2001, when he also worked with the offensive line. He then spent seven seasons as the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach.

After being fired as head coach in Cleveland following a two-year stint, Shurmur returned to Philadelphia in 2013 and was Chip Kelly’s offensive coordinator for three years.

While Kelly’s quick-tempo offense was all the talk of the NFL when it was installed, Shurmur’s background is in the West Coast system. That’s far different than Turner’s three-digit offense that was developed by Don “Air” Coryell and puts an emphasis on vertical passing and the power running game.

Here’s one thing that is certain: Shurmur did not come cheap. He reportedly decided to forego an opportunity to interview for the passing game coordinator job with the Rams and likely will be well compensated in Minnesota for doing so.

The Vikings deserve credit for making this move.

While there is a salary cap on how much a team can spend on its players, there is no cap for spending on top-of-the-line coaches, so if you want to pay a position coach like a coordinator you can do so without penalty.

Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf long ago proved they are often willing to spend whatever it takes to win and this is another indication of that.

Zimmer gets credit for having the confidence to put three former head coaches on his offensive staff. Shurmur is certain to have a say in some key offensive matters, and if that differs from what Turner wants to do it will be interesting to see what type of friction that causes.

An excess of brain power and ideas in the meeting room can be a positive thing if everyone can put their egos aside. But that’s easy to say and difficult to do. Zimmer will be the guy who has to make sure that happens.

The post Zulgad: Vikings won’t lack for offensive brainpower, but how will egos mesh? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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