BUFFS

Deion Sanders pours praise on ex-Broncos OC Pat Shurmur

Jul 10, 2024, 1:59 PM | Updated: 2:12 pm

Pat Shurmur...

(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

At Denver Broncos headquarters in 2020 and 2021, Pat Shurmur was an offensive coordinator whose struggles to ignite an offense from a quarterback room featuring Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater and Brett Rypien were only outpaced by his dismissal of analytics and sometimes-baffling press conferences.

Three years later, Shurmur is tasked with maximizing potential top-5 pick Shedeur Sanders and a Colorado Buffaloes offense featuring a constellation of 4- and 5-star-quality players. And CU coach Deion Sanders didn’t hesitate to re-assert his belief that Shurmur is the right man to extract the most from the CU attack.

“We got another guy on the other side of the ball named Pat Shurmur that’s pretty darn good, as well. I mean, really good,” Deion Sanders said during his press conference at the Big XII media-days event in Las Vegas on Wednesday

“And his compatibility and the relationship with Shedeur is amazing, and what they plan on doing this season, I can’t wait to see it myself.”

When Deion Sanders hopped onto ESPNU’s set after his press conference — where his inquisitors included former Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler — he doubled down.

“First of all, Coach Shurmur’s phenomenal, and the job that he did at the conclusion of last year — running someone else’s offense — was not easy, but he did, and he did a great job, and especially not having Shedeur for the final game, a game and a half,” Deion Sanders said.

“Pat Shurmur is a pro. Pat Shurmur is a communicator. Pat Shurmur is a guy that’s relational, that once you get to know him, once he builds that relationship, you don’t want to play for him, you’re gonna want to hunt for him, you’re gonna want to kill for him.”

For those who witnessed Shurmur’s offense — or remember when he guided a practice period in 2021 that saw the quarterbacks practice incompletions — the notion of Shurmur guiding a warp-speed offense seems outlandish. After all, in 10 seasons as a play-calling offensive coordinator or as a head coach — thus not including the three seasons in Philadelphia when he was a coordinator without play-calling responsibilities under then-head coach Chip Kelly — Shurmur’s offenses ranked 20th or worse in total offense seven times. Just once did Shurmur call plays for an offense that ranked in the league’s top half.

But that one time is a significant reason why Deion Sanders believes in Shurmur.

THE GREATEST SUCCESS FOR PAT SHURMUR WAS WITH MIKE ZIMMER

And that matters because of how Sanders seeks the counsel of Zimmer, the former Minnesota Vikings head coach who was Sanders’ position coach with the Dallas Cowboys from 1995-99. Zimmer was a formal analyst and consultant for the CU program last year before returning to the NFL as the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator this year.

It was under Zimmer as Vikings offensive coordinator that Shurmur guided Minnesota to a No. 11 total-offense rankling — the highest ever achieved in the NFL by a Shurmur offense for which he was a head coach or primary play-caller. Shurmur quickly parlayed that into a second NFL head-coaching opportunity, with the New York Giants.

Minnesota’s offense succeeded in 2017 with fill-in quarterback — and eventual Broncos one-year starter — Case Keenum spreading the football around to a variety of targets while finding balance with the run. And that’s something Sanders believes can help Shurmur now.

“And then it’s easy to communicate with him when I’m saying, ‘Hey, let’s get the ball into LaJohntay (Wester’s) hands.’ So he already has three to five plays already ready for those particular guys, OK?” Deion Sanders aid.

“Because I could see the landscape and how these guys, their moves — ‘OK, let’s get the ball to Travis (Hunter).’ OK? Now, you already got that going. But also, a pro understands the running game and how important the running game is.

“So Pat is bringing a tremendous amount of experience and success to the table.”

And, Deion Sanders believes, a good relationship with Shedeur Sanders.

“So he’s that type of guy,” Deion Sanders said, “and the relationship that he has with Shedeur and understanding that what both of them want to accomplish on the field — it’s poetry in motion.”

The last time Shurmur guided an offense, it was anything but.

Sanders is gambling that he is right — and that those keenly familiar with the oeuvre of Shurmur from his two years in Broncos Country are wrong.

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