As revealed by Peter King of MMQB.com, late former Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur has been recognized by the Pro Football Writers of America with the "Paul 'Dr. Z' Zimmerman Award.
Named after the former Sports Illustrated writer, the Dr. Z Award honors lifetime achievement for NFL assistant coaches.
Shurmur is one of four coaches recognized as part of its inaugural class, joining Jim Johnson, Ernie Zampese and Howard Mudd.
Shurmur, a college center at Albion (Mich.) College, broke into the NFL in 1975 with Detroit as defensive line (coach), after four seasons as Wyoming’s head coach. He was defensive coordinator for Detroit, New England (breaking in Bill Parcells to the NFL in 1980), the Rams, the Cardinals and Packers before dying in 1999 at 67 of liver cancer. In 1996, his Green Bay defense stifled San Francisco, Carolina and New England—holding them to an average of 16 points—in the Packers’ Super Bowl run. He was best-known for his defensive adjustments. In 1989, he invented a 2-5 defensive front with the Rams when injuries ravaged the front, using different combinations of safeties and linebackers in the middle. He often used a “big nickel” package, with safeties playing a more prominent role in coverage and nickel rushes instead of corners. “Fritz was one of the first to employ a nickel on a full-time basis,” Parcells said Saturday. “He was creative in many ways, one of the coaches who really knew how to fit the talent he had to the best scheme for them. And he was a tremendous defensive line coach. Tremendous. Very demanding. Those defensive linemen, he was on their ass. When I got to New England in 1980, Fritz taught me to two-gap. I just think he’s one of the best I’ve seen in the business, and he was very important to my career.” Ask Barry Sanders about Fritz Shurmur: In a 1994 playoff game against Shurmur’s Packers, Sanders was held to one minute yard on 13 carries.
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