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Kyle Rudolph optimistic about Pat Shurmur, Vikings’ 2017 prospects

February 1st, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — When the Minnesota Vikings hired Norv Turner as their offensive coordinator in 2014, it seemed few players stood to benefit from the move as much as tight end Kyle Rudolph, who had a chance to become the next premier receiving weapon to play for Turner at the position.

And yet, it wasn’t until Rudolph’s position coach replaced Turner as the Vikings’ offensive coordinator in November that the tight end’s numbers really took off.

Rudolph caught 52 of his 83 passes during the Vikings’ final nine games with Pat Shurmur as the interim offensive coordinator, posting 518 yards and four touchdowns as the team’s offensive identity coalesced around the quick passing game Shurmur had used in the past with quarterback Sam Bradford. Coach Mike Zimmer removed the interim tag from Shurmur’s title last month, and it stands to reason that what the Vikings did in the final weeks of the season could continue as their offensive philosophy moving forward.

Shurmur’s history as a coach has been in West Coast-based schemes, but Rudolph said “there wasn’t some big change” when Shurmur took over for Turner. Time might not have permitted the Vikings to make sweeping changes during the course of a season, but in an interview last week, Rudolph sounded like he expected the changes to be pragmatic going forward.

“One of the things that makes Pat so special, not only as a coach but as a coordinator, he has a great feel for our offense and what we did well,” Rudolph said. “Just because he comes from a different system with maybe different terminology, he’s not going to come in and change anything just to fit what he’s used to through the course of his coaching career. When your offense isn’t as successful as it should be — for us, not running the ball as well as we would like, not scoring as many points as we would like — there’s going to be some changes. We need to get back to the drawing board, find ways to run the football and find ways to score points.”

“Over the course of my first five years, our identity as a team was to run the football. That’s how we won games,” Rudolph said. “This year, whether it be Adrian going down [with a torn meniscus], injuries to the offensive line, there were a number of reasons we struggled running the football, so we had to throw the football more than we had in the past.

“You look back and reflect on the year we had, all the adversity we had to overcome, but with that being said, we still had an opportunity to win 10 or 11 games this year, if not more. The year before, we won all close games in the fourth quarter, and we had 11 wins. You take that, and you go the other way, we’re sitting at 11-5, at the top of our division and hosting another home playoff game. That’s kind of my mindset going into the offseason. When you don’t meet expectations, you want to figure out why. You kind of want to overhaul everything. [But] I don’t think we’re far off.”

Courtesy of ESPN

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