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Why Mike Zimmer thinks Pat Shurmur will be successful with Giants

Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer following a 29-24

Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer following a 29-24 win over the Saints in a divisional playoff game in Minneapolis, Jan. 14, 2018. Credit: AP / Jim Mone

The Giants aren’t in the NFC Championship Game. That aspiration fizzled out long ago. But the man presumed to be their next coach has ties to the teams that will play in it, making him one of the more talked-about people in both locker rooms.

Pat Shurmur is the offensive coordinator of the Vikings and served in that role for the Eagles before he arrived in Minnesota. Shurmur is expected to be named the coach of the Giants as soon as the Vikings’ season is over, whether that is as soon as Monday or on Feb. 5 after Super Bowl LII.

His current boss thinks he’s “earned the right” to be a head coach in the NFL. “If he gets an opportunity,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, “I think he’ll be successful.”

That “if” is because nothing is finalized or official. The Giants are not allowed to negotiate with Shurmur or any coach currently part of a postseason staff.

Shurmur is respected on both sides of the NFC title game. He was the offensive coordinator for the Eagles during starting quarterback Nick Foles’ first stint in Philadelphia.

“Pat, he’s a tremendous coach,” Foles said Wednesday. “I really enjoyed playing for him.”

Even though Shurmur seems destined to wind up in the NFC East, Foles said he was “really excited for him” when he learned about the potential Giants connection. “I know he’s focused on their team, but I’m excited for his opportunity.”

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is another Shurmur fan.

“He’s extremely smart,” Ertz said. “He’s not going to overcomplicate things for the quarterback and he’s going to put guys in situations to be successful. He’s a really good guy to be around, and he’s going to be a great head coach whenever or wherever that’s going to be.”

Eagles coach Doug Pederson won the job two years ago after Shurmur was a candidate (he was the Eagles’ interim head coach for the final game of the 2015 season). Their relationship goes deeper than that, however. Shurmur was a tight ends coach in Philly when Pederson was there as a backup quarterback.

“Smart,” Pederson said of Shurmur. “He’s been a head coach in this league and been a coordinator in this league. He’s done an outstanding job with Minnesota the last couple of weeks, and the last couple years. He understands defense, meaning he’s putting his guys in positions to be successful, particularly that quarterback. It’s been kind of fun to watch him and watch what they’ve done offensively this season.”

Shurmur has been the Vikings’ offensive coordinator for the past year and a half. His unit is a big reason why the Vikings are in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game despite the loss of their starting quarterback (Sam Bradford) and starting running back (Dalvin Cook) early in the season. The Vikings, with Case Keenum at quarterback since Week 2, finished 10th in scoring (23.9 points a game), 11th in total yardage (356.9 a game) and seventh in rushing yardage (122.3-yard average). They beat the Saints, 29-24, in the divisional round on a 61-yard pass as time expired.

Shurmur spent two years as coach of the Browns from 2011-12, when he was 9-23. Zimmer was the defensive coordinator of the Bengals during that period.

“I was able to compete against Pat a few times when he was the head coach in Cleveland,” Zimmer said. “I always thought his schemes did a good job. He’s a smart guy. He has a good relationship with players. He’s done an outstanding job this year.”

And, he said, if he’s a head coach, will do so next season, too.

Where Pat Shurmur’s offenses have ranked in the NFL in each of his seasons as a coordinator or head coach:

YearTeam Rank

2009 Rams 29

2010 Rams 26

2011* Browns 29

2012* Browns 25

2013 Eagles 2

2014 Eagles 5

2015 Eagles 12

2016** Vikings 28

2017 Vikings 11

*Head coach

**Took over as offensive coordinator after Week 9

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