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Zimmer vs. Shurmur Offers Extra Intrigue in Vikings-Giants Game

EAGAN, Minn. — Pat Shurmur has nothing but fond memories of his two seasons in Minnesota.

In fact, it's a place he said he saw himself staying at long-term before he was hired as the Giants head coach in January of 2018.

"My wife and I loved living in the area. There's many things that come to mind," Shurmur told the Twin Cities media on a conference call. "But for us — we didn't really know much about Minneapolis or the Vikings — for us to make a little adventure out of it … if we'd have never left there, we would have lived a happy life.

"Fortunately for us, we had this great opportunity to come to the Giants, so that's why we left," Shurmur added.

As the Vikings and Giants get ready for Sunday's showdown in Week 5, the spotlight is on Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and the former offensive coordinator who was on his staff in Zimmer's most successful season to date in Minnesota.

Many knew that would be the case when Minnesota’s schedule came out in April and the game was revealed as the Vikings first non-division road game in 2019.

The focus is on the pair not only because Zimmer and Shurmur spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons together in Minnesota, but also because of how they are viewed around the league.

Zimmer is regarded as one of the league's best defensive coaches, as his unit has finished in the top 10 in points allowed each of the past four seasons, with three top-10 finishes in yards allowed since 2015.

Shurmur, as Vikings fans surely remember, guided a balanced and creative Vikings offense to the NFC title game in 2017 before taking the Giants job the following offseason.

But both coaches downplayed the notion that each side will have the other completely figured out at MetLife Stadium.

"No, Pat has his system that he runs," Zimmer said. "I'm sure he's probably calling them the same things that he's called them before. I would assume that.

"When I came here, I kept the same terminology as I had when I was in Cincinnati, so I'm assuming he's doing the same thing," Zimmer added. "He's not going to tell me the plays, so it won't help."

Added Shurmur: "Yeah, I think it's a wash. They probably know more about me than I know about them. This happens to guys a lot, where you play against a team that you coached for and have a lot of respect for. Those were two of the most joyful years of my life, coaching up there. I think it's going to come down to our players playing against the Vikings players and just the strategy that shows up from the coaches on both sides."

Shurmur arrived in Minnesota in the 2016 offseason as the tight ends coach, but took over as the interim offensive coordinator after Norv Turner resigned after Week 7.

Shurmur called plays the final nine games of 2016, and for all of 2017 as the interim tag was lifted from his title after the 2016 season.

View photos from the Vikings practice on October 2 at TCO Performance Center.

Minnesota went 16-9 with Shurmur calling plays, including a stellar 13-3 season in 2017 during which the Vikings opened 2-2 but captured an NFC North crown and advanced to the NFC title game.

As he reflected on his time in Purple, Shurmur said what he appreciated most was getting a chance to learn from Zimmer, especially about his persistent approach to the game.

"It kind of reaffirmed in my mind — I really enjoyed the fact that it's kind of an old-school mentality. I have an eye on the future and everything, but an old-school mentality," Shurmur said. "I feel like, as an offensive coach, I've been shaped greatly by all the defensive coaches that I've worked with.

"Being with Zim' sort of reminded me to run the ball, play good defense, protect the quarterback … all the gritty things that we all know about the game, but every once in a while, you need reminders on," Shurmur added. "It was awesome to be able to help contribute to a 13-3 season … I guess the satisfaction was being at least a small part of that. Those are the things you remember. I think the staff, the guys we worked with."

Zimmer also praised Shurmur — both as a coach, and also as a family man.

The Vikings Head Coach also said he cherished the times he would pop into Shurmur's office at Winter Park and two would talk shop.

"He's a great person, great family. His wife and his daughter, they're terrific people, and his son, Kyle, [a quarterback who is on the Chiefs practice squad]," Zimmer said. "I think about the personal relationship that we had, being able to go in and talk to him all the time and the way that he took over in a tough situation and helped us to win games.

"Pat's a good friend, good football coach. We appreciate everything that he did when he was here," Zimmer also added. "He's doing a nice job there. They're sixth in the league in total offense. They're doing a really good job, and it'll be fun to go play."