EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur has been credited for keeping opponents off-balance, but part of the Vikings offensive success has been its own balance.
Minnesota ranks 10th in the NFL in offense, eighth in rushing and 13th in passing.
The goals start with wanting to run the ball effectively, then open up the passing game where the football has been widely distributed.
Adam Thielen has 1,215 yards, Stefon Diggs has 784 and Kyle Rudolph has 529, bringing their total through 15 games to 2,528 — which is the 14th most by a set of two Vikings receivers and a tight end in a season.
"Philosophically, I think it's important that No. 1, we run the ball well," Shurmur said Thursday. "That sets up a lot of different things. Obviously you're able to throw the ball, especially play-action, movement, naked [bootlegs], whatnot.
"It's also important that you attack the whole field and spread the ball around so that they've got to cover all of your eligible guys," Shurmur added. "We're just really fortunate here that we've got a lot of skill guys who can make plays, so that's how we set this thing up. We have a game plan each week where we can go in and throw the ball to any and all of them. For the most part, they've all done a good job."
Shurmur has been the Vikings offensive coordinator for 24 games dating to November of 2016.
Thielen (nine games) had 44 catches for 603 yards, Rudolph (nine games) had 52 receptions for 518 yards and Diggs had 49 for 437 in seven games after Shurmur took over last season, providing some foreshadowing the production in 2017.
The trio combined for 2,710 receiving yards in 2016, with Thielen totaling 967, Diggs posting 903 and Rudolph logging a career-best 840. That total is the ninth-most in a single season by a Vikings combination of top two receivers and top tight end, but it could be topped if Thielen, Diggs and Rudolph combine for 183 yards Sunday against Chicago.
Thielen has led the Vikings in receiving in eight games this season, Diggs has done so three times, and Rudolph has done so once. Additionally, Jarius Wright led the Vikings in yards against the Ravens, and running back Jerick McKinnon did the most damage against the Bears and Bengals.
"I think everybody kind of understands their role," Thielen said. "We have a lot of guys that can make plays. Depending on the game and what they give us, we've done a good job of not really caring who gets the ball or gets the credit or touchdowns. We're just trying to beat the guy across from us and letting the ball fly around where the open guy is."
Thielen, Diggs and Rudolph were asked this week about Shurmur's impact on the offense.
Thielen said Shurmur's ability of making multiple things "look kind of the same" and has a willingness to adapt.
"He's not an arrogant guy. He's not a guy that's not going to switch things just because he's done it a certain way," Thielen said. "He's a guy that's going to adapt. If we're not good at something, he's going to throw it out. If we're good at something, he's going to keep doing it and try to figure out different ways to do that. He's a guy that wants to win, wants to move the ball and doesn't care how he's going to do that."
Diggs, who moved around the line of scrimmage quite a bit at Green Bay last week, said Shurmur's preparation and positioning of players has helped.
"I guess he's great at what he does because he does a lot of studying, as far as what works and what works for his guys and putting us in the best position to be successful," Diggs said. "He uses all of the pieces of the puzzle to try to make it all work; no matter what game we have, he's going to try to put everybody in position where they'll have success so we can all get a W."
Rudolph, who began working with Shurmur as Vikings tight ends coach at the start of 2016, said a key "is finding out what we do well and finding out a bunch of ways to do that."
"I think we're so balanced, and we have so many playmakers … Pat's not trying to reinvent the wheel," Rudolph said. "We know what we do well, and if we can do it five or six times a game, instead of one or two, then we get more cracks at it."
Vikings combined receiving yards in a season by top 2 WRs & top TE (since 1970 merger)
1) 2,981…Moss 1,413, C. Carter 1,241, Glover 327 in 1999
2) 2,913…Moss 1,437, C. Carter 1,274, Davis 202 in 2000
3) 2,889…Senser 1,004, White 1,001, Rashad 884 in 1981
4) 2,846…Moss 1,313, C. Carter 1,011, Glover 527 in 1998
5) 2,794…C. Carter 1,256, Reed 1,175, Cooper 363 in 1994
6) 2,770…Moss 1,233, C. Carter 871, Chamberlain 666 in 2001
7) 2,759…A. Carter 1,225, Jones 778, S. Jordan 756 in 1988
8) 2,745…C. Carter 1,371, Reed 1,161, Cooper 207 in 1995
9) 2,710…Thielen 967, Diggs 903, Rudolph 840 in 2016
10) 2,668…Rice 1,312, Harvin 790, Shiancoe 566 in 2009
11) 2,611…Reed 1,320, C. Carter 1,163, A. Jordan 128 in 1996
12) 2,585…Reed 1,138, C. Carter 1,069, Glover 378 in 1997
13) 2,555…Moss 1,632, Campbell 522, Kleinsasser 401 in 2003
14) 2,528…Thielen 1,215, Diggs 784, Rudolph 529 in 2017