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Pat Shurmur Fondly Recalls Coaching Battles with Mike Zimmer

View images of Vikings new tight ends coach Pat Shurmur.

When Pat Shurmur was hired as tight ends coach by Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer in January, the longtime football minds were finally on the same team.

It was a change from the past as the two constantly went against one another within various divisions.

Shurmur spoke about his relationship with Zimmer with "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen on Thursday morning on the 9 to Noon show on KFAN. Click here for the full episode.

"We didn't actually work with one another but became friendly at NFL functions," Shurmur said. "We certainly competed against one another (in) quite a few games."

The coaches went up against each other in the NFC East in the early 2000s. Shurmur coached tight ends and offensive line (1999-2001) and quarterbacks (2002-08) in Philadelphia, and Zimmer was the Cowboys defensive coordinator (2000-2006).

The intra-division battles resumed in the AFC North in 2011 and 2012 when Shurmur was the head coach of the Browns and Zimmer was the defensive coordinator of the Bengals.

As an offensive mind, Shurmur said he gained plenty of respect for the way Zimmer's defenses consistently attacked their opponents.

"Obviously, his signature is on defense," Shurmur said. "They were real good with that double-A gap pressure and were a big, sturdy defense in Cincinnati.

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"They'd get you into obvious passing situations and then try to get you with some kind of pressure and put a little heat on the quarterback," he added. "He had a very talented defense there (much like) we have here."

Shurmur and Allen chatted about the cat-and-mouse games that defenses sometimes try to play with an offense, particularly on third downs and in passing situations.

"I think all defenses want to show you one thing and do another," Shurmur said. "Being able to do that effectively only affects the offense if you can bring pressure while you do it.

"I think our guys do a good job of pressuring," he added. "But they've also showed they can make it look like a pressure and pull off, and then the four guys that are rushing can also get pressure on the quarterback."

While Shurmur and Zimmer have expertise on different sides of the ball, Shurmur said he's enjoyed working with a coach who has a deep knowledge on offense in Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner.

Shurmur said he and Turner have used their previous coaching experiences to mesh together ideas and schemes.

"I've known Norv a long time and have always admired his work," Shurmur said. "Now to be able to work with him, it's a great deal of fun.

"We've got a lot of notes to compare," he added. "Certainly he's got a few more books of notes than me, but I think we've both had enough experience where it's fun to see a play and talk about what we used to call it."

Shurmur was asked about his tight end group, which includes veterans Kyle Rudolph and Rhett Ellison plus younger players in MyCole Pruitt and rookie David Morgan II. Ellison is recovering from an injury in Week 17.

Allen asked Shurmur about Rudolph, Pruitt and Morgan.

Shurmur on Rudolph…

"I think Kyle is a three-down tight end," Shurmur said. "I think he's an efficient blocker and he has extremely good hands and is an outstanding route runner.

"He's one of those guys where if he was in another offense then he might be more of a feature," he added. "With (running back) Adrian (Peterson) here, the ball gets spread around a little thinner than in some offenses, which is OK. He's going to be one of the best tight ends in the league for many years."

Shurmur on Pruitt…

"Now that he's in the second year in the system and knows more about what he's doing … it's the little details about how to get it done," Shurmur said. "I've compared his film with what I've seen in the last couple weeks and I really do think he's made good improvements."

Shurmur on Morgan…

"I think he did a terrific job (in rookie minicamp)," Shurmur said. "When you look at him, the reason we were glad he was there … he caught the ball extremely well and is an outstanding blocker.

"After having worked with him now for a few weeks, life makes sense for him," he added. "He gets it … I think he's got a chance to be an outstanding player."

Allen also inquired about Shurmur's thoughts on third-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

"Well you have to watch him when you're coaching tight ends," Shurmur said. "It looks to me like he's smoothing out his feet … he's getting a better feel for the guys he's throwing to.

"The one thing about Teddy that is obvious, you see it in meeting settings and on the practice field, he is an eager guy that wants to learn," he added. "He's a guy that wants to be great and he's established a great foundation as a young player."

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