New Vikings OC Shurmur plans field-level view for play-calling

MINNEAPOLIS -- Pat Shurmur already plans at least one change with the Vikings' offense. Shurmur, named interim offensive coordinator after Norv Turner abruptly resigned Wednesday, said Thursday he expects to call plays from the Vikings' sideline....

MINNEAPOLIS - Pat Shurmur already plans at least one change with the Vikings' offense.

Shurmur, named interim offensive coordinator after Norv Turner abruptly resigned Wednesday, said Thursday he expects to call plays from the Vikings' sideline. Turner called plays from the coaches' booth high above the field.

"I feel better down, and I think from my opinion it's a better communication to the quarterback," Shurmur said.

Shurmur and Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford are close, and they worked together as coordinator and quarterback in St. Louis in 2010 and Philadelphia last season. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Shurmur's familiarity with Bradford played a key role in naming the tight ends coach as Turner's replacement.

"It helps," Shurmur said. "Anytime you have a relationship with someone, you can communicate smoother and quicker."


Shurmur takes over an offense that ranks next-to-last in the NFL in total yards (293.3 per game) and rushing yards (71.9), and Bradford has been sacked 11 times in the past two games. Shurmur says he is not planning any big play-calling changes heading into Sunday's game against Detroit at U.S. Bank Stadium.

"I don't think you totally change what we're doing offensively," Shurmur said. "There's certain things that may look different. ... I think what we need to do is coach better, we need to play better."

Turner surprised everyone Wednesday morning when he resigned after the Vikings suffered back-to-back losses following a 5-0 start. He told ESPN there were "different views on where the offense was going," but Zimmer has denied any rift.

Shurmur, hired in January, said he was surprised by the news. He was in the office at 6:30 a.m. when it all went down.

"Norv told us he was going to step aside," Shurmur said. "Then Coach Zim came down and just asked if I would move forward and help get a plan together and call the plays as we move forward."

Turner and Shurmur's late uncle, defensive guru Fritz Shurmur, were close, especially when both were assistants with the Los Angeles Rams from 1985-90. Having that family bond made Turner's resignation bittersweet for Shurmur.

"The last few months (working) with Norv have been really meaningful for me," Shurmur said. "I've known him and admire him. He and my uncle worked together very closely, so I've learned a lot of football (from them. Wednesday) was a different day."

In addition to serving as coordinator for the Rams from 2009-10 and with the Eagles from 2013-15, Shurmur was Cleveland's head coach from 2011-12. He now has the task of jump-starting the Vikings' attack, and he shared his vision in a meeting with offensive players.


"He said our main focus is let's figure out what we do really well and go from there and get back on track," fullback Zach Line said.

When the Vikings began 5-0, they didn't have a single turnover on offense. That changed when they had four in a 21-10 loss at Philadelphia on Oct. 23.

Minnesota followed that with a 20-10 loss at Chicago on Monday night. The Vikings did not turn the ball over against the Bears, but they rushed for just 57 yards on 18 attempts.

"It's important first that we take care of the football," Shurmur said. "We have an extremely good defense, we play great on special teams. ... It's important that we're efficient running the football. We've got to find a way in the passing game to also be efficient."

Running back Jerick McKinnon sat out Monday's game with a sprained ankle, but he is expected to play this week, and that should help. McKinnon returned to practice Thursday.

"We believe in Coach Pat, and we're going to go from there," McKinnon said.

Shurmur said he will continue working with the tight ends. He will be getting help from quality control assistant Andrew Janocko.

Shurmur is well aware there will be much more pressure in his new job. He said he already makes sure he doesn't pay attention to what is being said in the media.


"I've learned that over the years. I frequently remind my mother to (also) just quit reading that stuff," he said.

Apparently, Shurmur's mother, Barbara, doesn't listen. "No," Shurmur said, "because she keeps reading the stuff."

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