Bears' Pace interviews Vikings' Pat Shurmur, Patriots' McDaniels

Bears G.M. Ryan Pace went on the offensive Friday in his search for the team's next head coach.

Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur became the third candidate to audition for the Bears' job Friday morning when he interviewed with Pace in Minnesota.

Later in the day, Pace made New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels his fourth interview in three days.

Pace's first interview was with Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio on Wednesday. A day later, Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards interviewed.

Shurmur and McDaniels are two of the more popular candidates across the league. Shurmur has met with the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals, while McDaniels has interviewed with the New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts.

The 52-year-old Shurmur helped the Vikings to a 13-3 record with an offense that was 11th in yards and 10th in points, despite losing starting quarterback Sam Bradford and No. 1 running back Dalvin Cook in the first month of the season. The Vikings, as the NFC's No. 2 seed, have a first-round playoff bye this weekend.

Backup quarterback Case Keenum, a six-year-veteran journeyman, originally undrafted out of Houston, stepped in for Bradford and had a career year. His 22 touchdown passes, 3,547 passing yards, 67.6 completion percentage and 98.3 passer rating were all easily personal bests.

Shurmur gets much of the credit.

"He's been very adaptable trying to fit the scheme to the players," Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said of Shurmur during a conference call with Bears writers in Week 17. "(He) did a nice job in the off-season coming up with a plan of using the guys that we had. Then, after Bradford went down and Cook went down, being able to adapt. He's done a good job of calling plays, but more importantly probably using players to their strengths."

Shurmur has been an NFL coach for 19 years, including

seven as a defensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams (2009-10), Philadelphia Eagles (2013-15) and Vikings (2016-17). He was the Eagles' interim head coach for the final game of the 2015 season after Chip Kelly was fired. Shurmur's father, Fritz, coached in the NFL for 24 years, including five (1994-98) as the Green Bay Packers' defensive coordinator.

Fangio and Pat Shurmur matched wits in the Vikings' 23-10 victory over the Bears in the season finale a week ago in Minnesota. In the week leading up to that game, Fangio commended Shurmur for his work.

"I think he's done a great job," Fangio said. "Their offense is playing at the highest level I've seen them play at since I've been here. I think the quarterback's been the major difference there. They had a great defense last year. They've still got a great defense. I think the biggest difference is their quarterback play, and this guy (Keenum) has really played well."

Shurmur was 9-23 as the Cleveland Browns' coach from 2011-12. He joined the Vikings as tight ends coach in 2016 and served as interim offensive coordinator for the final nine games that year after Norv Turner resigned.

McDaniels, 41, has won five Super Bowl rings with the Patriots as an integral part of the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady coalition. He has spent 14 of his 17 coaching seasons with the Patriots, and he has been an offensive coordinator for nine years.

Aside from Brady, McDaniels also helped develop Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett.

In between stints as the Patriots' offensive coordinator, McDaniels spent two years (2009-10) in Denver as the Broncos' head coach, going 11-17 before being fired with four games remaining in his second season. When he was hired by the Broncos, McDaniels was just 33 and the youngest coach in the league.

His younger brother, Ben, has been an offensive assistant for the Bears the past two seasons.

Minnesota defensive coordinator George Edwards, here talking with linebacker Chad Greenway, interviewed with the Chicago Bears earlier this week for their head coaching job. Associated Press

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