General manager Ryan Pace is conducting his third interview for the Bears’ head-coaching job, meeting in Minnesota Friday morning with Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
Shurmur, 52, has spent 30 years as a coach, including the last 19 in the NFL. In those 19 seasons, he has been part of nine playoff teams, winning seven division championships and appearing in the Super Bowl.
This season Shurmur helped lead the Vikings to the NFC North title with a 13-3 record by coordinating an offense that lost its starting quarterback (Sam Bradford) and running back (Dalvin Cook) to season-ending injuries.
Shurmur helped journeyman Case Keenum, who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Texans in 2012, emerge as one of the league’s best quarterbacks. Keenum completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 3,547 yards with 22 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 98.3 passer rating that ranked seventh in the NFL.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer praised Shurmur last week during a conference call with Chicago reporters in advance of the season finale between the Bears and Vikings.
“He’s been very adaptable trying to fit the scheme to the players,” Zimmer said. “They did a nice job in the offseason coming up with a plan of using the guys that we had, trying to use them to their strengths, and then after Bradford went down and Cook went down, being able to adapt. He’s done a good job of calling plays, but more importantly probably using players to their strengths.”
Zimmer has been especially impressed by Shurmur’s work with Keenum.
“I see it every day really,” Zimmer said. “When [Keenum] messes up [Shurmur] gets on him pretty good and talks to him about what he expects from him, tries to settle him down and get him back in, being able to communicate and work together to understand the things that Case likes as well.”
Shurmur entered the NFL with the Eagles, initially working as a tight ends and offensive line coach from 1999-2001 before becoming quarterbacks coach from 2002-08.
He then served as offensive coordinator with the Rams (2009-10) before becoming head coach of the Browns (2011-12), where he compiled a 9-23 record in two seasons.
Shurmur returned to the Eagles for a second stint as offensive coordinator from 2013-15 before joining the Vikings as tight ends coach in 2016. He served as interim offensive coordinator for the final nine games in 2016 following the resignation of Norv Turner and took over the job in 2017.
Throughout his career, Shurmur has been known for getting the most out of quarterbacks. He helped Donovan McNabb earn three Pro Bowl berths and reach the Super Bowl with the Eagles, Bradford set numerous NFL rookie records with the Rams and Nick Foles have a breakout season with the Eagles in 2013, passing for 27 touchdowns and two interceptions.
As a player, Shurmur was a four-year letterman and three-year starting center at Michigan State, where he earned All-Big Ten conference honors and All-America honorable mention accolades as a senior in 1987.
Shurmur began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State (1988-89) before coaching tight ends, the offensive line and special teams for the Spartans from 1990-97. He then served as offensive line coach at Stanford in 1998 before entering the NFL the following year with the Eagles.
Shurmur is the first offensive-minded candidate to interview for the Bears’ head-coaching position. He follows Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio Wednesday and Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards Thursday.