While browsing the field for potential Bears head coach candidates, one somewhat surprising name stands out, and for all the right reasons.
Here’s the gist: he’s an NFL offensive coordinator whose team ranks among the top 10 in points, total yards, rushing yards, and touchdowns, as well as the top half of passing yards and touchdowns. If you’re intrigued, allow me to introduce Minnesota Vikings OC Pat Shurmur.
Shurmur’s passing game is led by a third-string quarterback (Case Keenum), an undrafted free agent receiver (Adam Thielen) and a fifth-round pick (Stefon Diggs) on the other. The rushing attack has continued to pound it out on the ground with backups Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon combining to gain more than 1,200 yards and score nine touchdowns in Dalvin Cook’s absence.
In a year where Teddy Bridgewater’s status was in doubt and Sam Bradford’s knee landed him on injured reserve yet again, Shurmur was a steady hand through the storm and in the Vikings’ road to an NFC North title.
Sure, Shurmur isn’t exactly a sexy candidate, but he is a pretty compelling one. He’s gotten the best out of a pair of former first-round picks, helping Bridgewater reach the Pro Bowl in his second season and getting Bradford to lead the league in completion percentage while cutting his interception rate to sub-1.0 percent levels in his brief time in Minnesota.
The 52-year-old coordinator insists his focus is with the Vikings despite the numerous head coach interviews and opportunities that await him in the offseason. His boss, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, is already preparing for Shurmur’s name to be out there and connected to several gigs when things open up after the regular season ends.
If Shurmur does get a head coaching chance, it won’t be his first rodeo – he went 9-23 as the Cleveland Browns head coach in 2011 and 2012 and was a winner as the Philadelphia Eagles head coach for Week 17 in 2015.
We’ll dive deeper into Shurmur’s candidacy later, but a coordinator with head coaching experience, a reputation for getting the best out of players in a dire situation, and a knack for developing quarterbacks whose team is playing the Bears on Sunday had to at least be considered.