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Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Search: Pat Shurmur offers experience and success

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Get to know the Arizona Cardinals head coaching candidates, starting with Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

When you come off the most successful five year regular season run for a head coach in Arizona Cardinals history, you need to nail your next hire.

In fact, the Cardinals have had more success with their last two hires than every coach since the merger combined not named Don Coryell.

They need to knock it out of the park again.

Maybe they won't hire the guy that finally wins them a Super Bowl, or maybe they will.

That's the battle of this.

You make the right hire and for the next decade, if you choose, you live fat, looks at John Harbaugh in Baltimore.

You make the wrong hire, and all of a sudden, you're expendable too, looks at Buffalo.

The Cardinals need to make the right hire and one of the top names on their list is Pat Shurmur.

Shurmur is a former head coach of the Cleveland Browns, leading the Browns to a 9-23 record in two seasons before getting the boot.

Before that, he was a tight ends, offensive line and special teams coach for Michigan State, before moving to Stanford as the offensive line coach.

Then he got his break under Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles as the tight end and offensive line coach in 1999. He was with the Eagles, moving to quarterback coach in 2002 and staying at that post until 2008.

In 2009 he got the call to be offensive coordinator for one of the worst offenses in NFL history, the St. Louis Rams. The Rams offense was terrible, averaging 10.9 points per game, the worst mark in the NFL by a large margin.

Yet Shurmur was back in 2010 with top draft pick Sam Bradford to tutor and he did a nice job. The Rams went 7-9 and Shurmur was credited with helping mold Bradford in that first season.

That's when he got his first look as a head coach with the Cleveland Browns.

The odds were stacked against Shurmur, it's the Browns for heaven's sake, with Colt McCoy as his starting quarterback, he was able to produce four wins.

In year two, with newly drafted Brandon Weeden leading the way, the Browns went 5-11, but Shurmur was fired.

He was hired back to Philadelphia under Chip Kelly as the OC, and this time the offense soared. In 2013 the Eagles were fourth in the NFL in scoring, 2014 they were third and 2016, when Kelly was fired and Shurmur took over as the interim coach, they were 13th. However, the Eagles were 27-21 in that time and had consistently one of the best offenses in the NFL, despite the quarterback carousel: Nick Foles and Mike Vick started games in 2013, Foles and Mark Sanchez in 2014 and Sanchez and Sam Bradford in 2015.

In 2016, he was hired back to Minnesota to be the tight ends coach until Norv Turner left the team late in camp and Shurmur was promoted to interim offensive coordinator.

This was the year that Teddy Bridgewater's knee imploded and they traded for Sam Bradford just before the season.

Bradford had a career year under Shurmur, despite having the worst offensive line in the NFL.

This season, Shurmur has produced a top ten scoring and rushing offense behind a third string quarterback Case Keenum, who oh by the way threw for 22 touchdowns in 14 starts this year. Before that, in 24 starts, Keenum had thrown 24 touchdowns in his career.

What Shurmur does well is put players in a position to be successful. He's studied under Andy Reid and Chip Kelly, he's adapted and created his own system that… Despite injuries, has been incredibly successful.

Did he learn from his mistakes in Cleveland? Has he grown as a coach?

I asked Christopher Gates of the Minnesota Vikings SB Nation site Daily Norseman, here's what Gates had to say:

Shurmur was originally brought in to be the Vikings' tight ends coach prior to the start of the 2016 season. When Norv Turner unexpectedly retired midway through the season, Mike Zimmer elevated him to the offensive coordinator job.It was a rough transition for the Vikings, going from Turner's power running, chuck it deep system to Shumur's more. . .shall we say "modern". . .offense.

The fact that the Vikings' offensive line was a complete disaster in 2016 didn't help matters either. But, thanks to a year in the system and a couple of offensive line upgrades, the Minnesota offense made a huge jump under Shurmur in 2017. Despite losing Sam Bradford after the first week of the season and star rookie running back Dalvin Cook in Week 4, the Vikings' offense jumped from 23rd to 10th in scoring and from 28th to 11th in yardage.

Shurmur is going to get a bit of a bad rap from his first stint as an NFL head coach, as he was the coach in Cleveland for two years and went 9-23. But, given the state that Cleveland has been in for much of the recent past, it's hard to hold that against him. He's a solid coach that probably deserves another opportunity to be the man in charge.

What do you think?

Is this the man for the Cardinals?


Is Pat Shurmur the right man for the Arizona Cardinals job?

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