EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Mike Zimmer is evaluating offensive coordinator candidates after Pat Shurmur's hire as head coach by the New York Giants.
Zimmer said Tuesday morning in his end-of-season press conference that he's "in the process now of working through" internal and external candidates. Zimmer thanked Shurmur for the job he did and wished him well — except against the Vikings, which isn't scheduled to happen in the regular season until 2019.
Zimmer said he's willing to have coaching vacancies if they've been created because other teams were impressed by Minnesota's success. The Vikings went 13-3, won the NFC North and a home Divisional playoff game before falling in the NFC Championship.
"When you're successful, this happens every year," Zimmer said. "I hope it continues to happen. I hope I have a coaching tree that is 200 people long. It just the way life goes. When you're successful, people want your coaches. I think that is great. That means you're doing something right."
Zimmer hired Shurmur as tight ends coach in 2016, and he became interim offensive coordinator for the final nine games.
The interim tag was lifted last year, and Shurmur and offensive coaches set in motion the groundwork for numerous statistical improvements with an overhauled offensive line and in spite of injuries to the opening-day starting QB and RB.
"Pat did a great job. I'm happy for him and his family. It's another great opportunity. I think he's going to get an opportunity to work with [new Giants General Manager] Dave Gettleman who is a really good football guy, and we thanked him yesterday for the success that he's helped us with, and we hope he's successful in the future, except when they play the Vikings."
Zimmer said he'd like to fill the position "as soon as possible," but he added that he would take his time and make sure he got it right.
When asked if there was a chance to promote from within, Zimmer said:
"Well, I think we have a lot of good offensive coaches," Zimmer said. "But, we're going to work through the process and see where it all goes."
Zimmer also was asked specifically about what kind of candidate quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski would be.
"I think he's good. Kevin is a very smart guy," Zimmer said. "I need to sit down and talk to him. I need to sit down and talk to some other people and figure out what the best thing is for us moving forward."
Stefanski began his tenure with the Vikings in 2006 as an assistant to former Head Coach Brad Childress. He was assistant quarterbacks coach from 2009-13, then shifted to tight ends (2014-15) before working with running backs in 2016. Stefanski returned to coaching quarterbacks when the Vikings added tight ends coach Clancy Barone last offseason.
Zimmer said he would continue to embrace new ideas and complimented Vikings assistants for the way they worked together.
"To me, number one, with this coaching staff, I think they did an incredible job, not just the offense but defense, special teams, the whole bit," Zimmer said. "They had a great chemistry. To me, that's going to be very important. What kind of chemistry we have with the other coaches, the communication with all the other coaches, and then the next thing is to try and get the best guy."
One of the things that Zimmer said the Vikings did well in 2017 was trying to maximize the strengths of individual players.
"I want to continue to do a lot of the things we've done," Zimmer said. "I don't ever want to take a square peg and put it in a round hole. I want to try to do what is best for the players. I think there are some things that we can continually build on from what we've done."