EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- In Sam Bradford's six-year odyssey in the NFL, from first overall pick to twice-traded veteran, Pat Shurmur has been the closest thing he's had to a constant. The coach was the St. Louis Rams' offensive coordinator in 2010, when the team selected Bradford at the top of the draft, and was there again in the same role during Bradford's only season in Philadelphia.
After finishing the 2015 season as the Philadelphia Eagles' interim head coach, Shurmur passed up a potential job as the Rams' passing game coordinator to become the Vikings' tight ends coach. And before the Vikings made a trade for Bradford, sending their 2017 first-round pick and a conditional 2018 fourth-rounder to the Eagles for a passer who could replace Teddy Bridgewater, they went to Shurmur for his advice.
"He has the three primary elements that a quarterback needs: He's an outstanding decision-maker, he's extremely accurate and he understands timing," Shurmur said. "The first year when we were together, we drafted him in St. Louis after a 1-15 season. He played every snap as a rookie, and we were a couple plays away from winning the division, so I saw the best of him at a young age. And last year in Philadelphia, after he'd been through a lot, I saw him emerge, and by the end of the season [he] was playing extremely well."
As the Vikings consider whether Bradford can be ready to start Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, Shurmur is still a valuable resource, translating some of the concepts from systems Bradford has played in before to what the Vikings are doing now.
Should Bradford start, he'll probably have a game plan tailored to his strengths. So far, he's lived up to the scouting report Shurmur gave the Vikings about how quickly he can learn an offense.
"We're going to do things that help him," Shurmur said. "But for the most part, we've been very, very impressed with how far he's come in just a couple days."
Bradford is already on his fifth coordinator in seven seasons, and in Minnesota, he's shifting back to an Air Coryell-based scheme after playing in an offense with West Coast terminology in Philadelphia.
"A lot of people run a lot of the same plays, so it's the verbiage and knowing which words go with which play," offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. "And then, going on the field, it might be the same play, but our guys might do it different than where he's been before."
Though it's Turner designing the game plan, and quarterbacks coach Scott Turner working through the offense with Bradford, Shurmur has a valuable role this week as the coach on staff who knows him best."
"He started as a rookie, and I felt a real responsibility as a coordinator to give him things where he could get the ball out of his hand -- good, clean progressions," Shurmur said. "We had a good running back in Steven Jackson, and we had kind of a team that was developing. We weren't quite a great team at that time yet. Last year, some of those concepts carried over in Philadelphia, from the no-huddle standpoint, and there were other things that were different. He's got to get used to seeing it, know the progressions, know the matchups and be ready to pull the trigger, which he is."