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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: No offense but Vikings will be asking many to check their egos at the door

By Judd Zulgad

Mike Zimmer’s decision to add Pat Shurmur and Tony Sparano to his coaching staff last month created plenty of questions, not to mention intrigue, about what the Vikings coach had in mind for his offense.

Shurmur, hired as tight ends coach, and Sparano, named offensive line coach, both have been head coaches and offensive coordinators in the NFL, and to think Zimmer added them to simply oversee a position group would’ve been naïve.

But the Vikings already have an offensive coordinator in long-time coach Norv Turner. Thus, the curiosity about Zimmer’s thought process.

Zimmer, who is about as blunt as an NFL coach can be, did not pull any punches at the Scouting Combine this past week, saying he wants the Vikings to “do something really well” on offense next season.

The Vikings finished 29th in the NFL in total offense in 2015, including 31st (and next to last) in passing. The presence of NFL rushing leader Adrian Peterson helped the Vikings finish fourth in that category. It was clear none of this was good enough for a team that won its first NFC North title since 2009 and lost in the first-round of the playoffs to Seattle.

Zimmer spoke of the fact that Shurmur, who has extensive experience in the West Coast system, can help Teddy Bridgewater operate out of the shotgun and Sparano can assist in Bridgewater’s development under center.

What makes Zimmer so impressive is his willingness to admit to his mistakes and try different things in order to get the most out of his team. This is admirable but it’s not the norm in this league.

Zimmer clearly wants everyone who works for him to check their ego at that door. This is a great mindset to have but it is one thing to talk about it and it’s another to have it happen without some major infighting taking place.

It became pretty clear last season that Zimmer was growing more comfortable with being a head coach and overseeing every facet of his club. Zimmer came to the Vikings after spending much of his coaching career as a defensive coordinator and that had been the area where he was most hands on during his first two years in Minnesota.

But Zimmer made it clear after a close late-season loss at Arizona that he wasn’t pleased with Turner’s final play call, and adding Shurmur and Sparano, who replaced the fired Jeff Davidson, was further evidence that things would change.

Now, you’re going to have a situation where it sounds as if Shurmur and Sparano are going to combine with Turner, and Zimmer, to make tweaks and decide how this offense might work best. It’s a great idea, given it shows Zimmer’s desire for the Vikings to take another step.

But how will Turner accept this? Will Norv be upset that Shurmur and Sparano could very well be allowed to have influence on Bridgewater, whose position coach is none other than Norv’s son, Scott?

Will Zimmer even care if Team Turner gets bent out of shape? It’s not only members of the coaching staff who might have to remain humble.

Zimmer said he believes Peterson can continue to “handle the same role he’s had,” but also spoke about his expectations for Bridgewater.

“At the end of the day, when I come back here next year, if I’m still here, I want to be able to say, ‘Teddy really took over this offense,’” Zimmer said. “He was really in charge of everything he did here. He took charge of the league. Whatever that means, whether it’s putting us in the right place, throwing the ball more, throwing the ball less. Just taking charge of this thing. Because it’s going to be his baby.”

Peterson will turn 31 on March 21 and led the NFL with an eye-popping 327 rushing attempts in 2015. Given Zimmer’s desire for his offense to do something really well next season, it’s highly unlikely that he will simply go back to the Peterson plan. Especially since Zimmer is right in the fact that this needs to become Bridgewater’s offense.

Peterson acknowledged after the season that he would like to be able to do more and brought up the fact running back Jerick McKinnon possesses a versatility that makes him valuable. Peterson is a Hall of Fame runner, but he isn’t particularly great when it comes to catching the ball, picking up blitzes, holding onto the football in key moments or operating with his quarterback in the shotgun.

If Peterson becomes a more complete player that would mean his role will remain substantial, but he’s going to be entering his 10th NFL season and to assume he will make major changes would be presumptuous.

If that doesn’t happen, it almost certainly will impact his playing time. When Peterson’s rushing attempts were limited in a few instances in 2015, he made it clear to anyone who would listen he wasn’t happy.

Peterson now will be part of an offense that will demand more from him. It will be an offense that will be the brainchild of Norv Turner, Shurmur, Sparano and, of course, Zimmer.

That means there will be a lot of cooks in the kitchen. Will they all be able to coexist? That remains to be seen, but it certainly will be interesting finding out.

The post Zulgad: No offense but Vikings will be asking many to check their egos at the door appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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