Chicago Takes Charge

Howard Mudd, an assistant coach in the NFL for 39 years, is one of four recipients of the inaugural Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman award. (Damian Strohmeyer/AP)
Howard Mudd, an assistant coach in the NFL for 39 years, is one of four recipients of the inaugural Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman awards. (Damian Strohmeyer/AP)

The inaugural Dr. Z Awards are announced.

The Pro Football Writers of America gives out awards annually to deserving players and executives in the NFL, and this year our group is adding an award to recognize assistant coaches. It’s long past time that career assistants, who don’t make the Hall of Fame and most often work deep in the shadows of their head coaches, are memorialized for what they do. PFWA leaders Ira Miller and Dan Pompei pushed to honor Paul Zimmerman in conjunction with the award, seeing that Zim for so long chronicled these men in the shadows and was constantly drawing attention to the previously invisible work of so many of them. So the PFWA decided to christen the award “The Paul ‘Dr. Z’ Zimmerman Award” for lifetime achievement for NFL assistant coaches.

The inaugural class of four winners:

  • Howard Mudd, who worked for 39 years as an NFL offensive line coach with eight teams.
  • The late Fritz Shurmur, a veteran of 24 years as an NFL coach, 20 of them as a defensive coordinator.
  • Ernie Zampese, a 24-year NFL assistant and one of the architects of the modern passing game.
  • The late Jim Johnson, a master of the disguised blitz, a 23-year assistant and defensive coordinator.

“For gosh sakes, this is unbelievable,” said Zampese, now living in retirement in San Diego. “It’s flabbergasting. To be included with those other three men who were such great coaches, I am incredibly stunned. Thank you.”

“I’m very flattered,” Mudd said. “I also really appreciate the award being named after Paul. When he interviewed me, he was fixated on my troops. I appreciate how he saw the game. I’m quite taken aback. This is such an elite group.”

Mudd was a three-time Pro Bowl guard for the Niners in a seven-year NFL career in the ’60s. In 1974, he started coaching the offensive line in San Diego, and he went to coach lines in San Francisco, Seattle, Cleveland, Kansas City, Seattle again (developing Hall of Famer Walter Jones in the process), Indianapolis (for the first 12 years of Peyton Manning’s career) and Philadelphia before retiring after the 2012 season. Well, not exactly retiring. He volunteer-coached the Mount Si High School offensive line in North Bend, Wash., last fall. “I was as proud of those as any guys I coached in the NFL,’’ Mudd said. He’s best known for his 12 years with the Colts—particularly for his patch job in 2008, when Indy had Manning coming back from tricky summer knee surgery and a dangerous infection, and center Jeff Saturday was hurt, and Mudd had to get rookie Jamey Richard ready to play one of the most complicated center positions in football, with all the changes Manning makes at the line. The Colts won 12 games. “My mantra—and I hope they put this on my gravestone—was, ‘Do a few things, and do them extraordinarily well.’ “

Dr. Z wrote for SI for 29 years and served on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. (Courtesy of Linda Zimmerman)
Dr. Z wrote for SI for 29 years and served on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. (Courtesy of Linda Zimmerman)

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 -1 yard on 13 carries.

Zampese has the distinction of running for the winning touchdown as a USC tailback against Notre Dame in 1956 (bet you didn’t know that) and being hired for two of his early coaching jobs by John Madden and Don Coryell. “A lot of times in my career,” he said, “I was in the perfect spot. You go to work for Don Coryell, and he just lets you do what you do; he lets you coach.” Coryell put him in charge of the Charger receivers from 1979 to 1983, and San Diego was the most explosive offense in football, with Dan Fouts throwing to a bevy of great wideouts and to tight end Kellen Winslow. Zampese brought lots of motion and shifting to the offense. Each of those five seasons, San Diego had the number one passing offense in the NFL. “He’s the best offensive coach I know,” Coryell once said. His quarterbacks—Fouts, Jim Everett, Troy Aikman, Drew Bledsoe (in New England in his stop as coordinator, in 1998 and ’99)—were always among the league’s most prolific. Aikman swore by him. “I had some great quarterbacks who ran the offense great,” Zampese said. “It comes back to being in the perfect spot so many times. In Dallas, what a great position that was to be in, with such great offensive talent.”

Johnson was still in full bloom at 68 when cancer of the spine killed him five years ago. He brought pressure with the best defensive coaches in recent history. Over his last nine years as Philadelphia defensive coordinator, his Eagles were second in the league with 390 sacks—yet only two of his pass-rushers (Hugh Douglas and Trent Cole) went to a Pro Bowl. Said one of his protégés, former Eagles assistant John Harbaugh, when Johnson died: “He saw potential and developed it. He made me believe I could coach at this level. In football, he was a pioneering and brilliant strategist, changing the way defense is played in the NFL.” Johnson figured out ways of disguising pressure and bringing it against different teams with different players—and none of the 11 men on defense was out of the pressure mix. His Eagles once sacked Ben Roethlisberger nine times in a game; his last Eagle defense held the Giants and Vikings to 25 points in eight quarters in two road playoff wins in the 2008 season. He did his best work with the Eagles, but he also coached Arizona, Indianapolis and Seattle in an NFL tenure that dated to 1986.

That’s a first-class first class of Dr. Z award winners.

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216 comments
ShaneMac
ShaneMac

Peter:


Way to go with your self-congratulations.  At least you did it "humbly".

DerekSugimura
DerekSugimura

Christine Michael has Pro Bowl talent . . . if he can stay healthy, motivated, and focused.  He's never managed all three things at the same time.  He's had trouble managing two.  I hope he puts it together with Seattle, because if he does, he can be as good as anyone in the league.

Michael22
Michael22

Jurgen Klinsmann said to Sam Borden of the New York Times: “We cannot win this World Cup, because we are not at that level yet."

Betting Odds for USA to win World Cup 250/1, or 0.4% chance. People willing to wager actual money agree with Klinsmann, not Peter King.


The Diamondbacks, 10 games under .500 and 15 games back in the division, are still a better bet at 200/1 to win the 2014 World Series. In the NFL, Jacksonville and Oakland are the longest shots at 100/1 each to win the next Super Bowl. Let the Jags know they are ready to win it all this year, since they are much better odds than the US team. 

dksherlock
dksherlock

So Bears will have a warm and fuzzy locker room.  Let's see Cutler get to the playoffs and we'll see how much it matters. 

opaque13
opaque13

Plenty of people have used motivational devices like Klimsmann has, but why quote him out of context?  In the interview I read, he ALSO said (to the effect) the U.S.A. would have to play "seven perfect games to win the World Cup." 


That's the kind of coach-speak you'd hear from an NFL coach in Klinsmann's position.  He'd codify his statement to let people know what they were already thinking: that his team has no realistic chance.  Or he'd make something up that made no sense whatsoever.

Klinsmann may speak English better than most NFL coaches, but he's still a German who spent his first 40 years in Europe.  Let's not go overboard dissecting cultural nuance.



kalmchaos1
kalmchaos1

Hi Peter, I know that you covered the games in South Africa four years ago and got a feel for the game but Klinsmann is right to say that the US cannot win this World Cup. I'm not sure if it's motivational but it is realistic. While it may not seem American to say that we have no chance to win, it will help keep us fans grounded and in support of the plan so that we can compete at a higher level in the future. I think of this stage of our development as the "breaking eggs" segment of the omelette making process. The comparison to Herb Brooks is simply ridiculous. The 80 US Hockey Team was a very good team maybe not as good as the Russian team but that team was expected to compete for a medal. That team won one very important game and eventually the championship against teams that we very close in talent. Klinsmann has a much larger challenge. The World Cup has several teams that are of equal stature as that Russian team from the 80 Olympics. For the US to win the final, they would need to have 4 monumental upsets in a row. The US squad has a statistical chance just as any other qualifier but more importantly, this World Cup must serve as preparation for 2018 and maybe even 2022.

JeffPozy
JeffPozy

Great comments about Sharapova! Also, looking forward to MMQB CFL coverage! Mr. King has still got it!

Marchoir
Marchoir

Can almost hear Trestman now. "OK guys, bring it in. Everybody bring it in closer. Everybody join hands, on three. Kum-ba-yah my lord, kum-ba-yah..... Yeah, baby that's it. Feel the power. This is how we do it in Canada. That's what I'm talking about. Hug it out now. Hug it out."

leoderosia1
leoderosia1

I am sure pete the lib will be preaching about what is acceptable and unacceptable in locker rooms. Pete is a huge mike sam fanboy...sam will be a career scrub

comments
comments

        Yes its June and I only read the 20% of the column that was football related but, as a longtime Chicago Bears fan, imagine my surprise when I clicked on SI tonight and saw that Peter had written something about my favorite team! Team I'm stuck following because my oldest friends back in Chicago do and its nice to be able to text with them as an at least moderately well informed individual is more accurate, but then I was born in '78 and fell in love at the tender age of seven with the cast of characters that was the '85 Bears. Its a love-hate thing. 


         Here's to the new regime, (Trestman/Emery) which seems to have a pretty good handle on how to build and keep up a roster in theory anyway, and here's to Jay finally growing up? Keeping my fingers crossed on that one, but he's thirty now and a father and he wouldn't be the first whiny, self important dude to grow up a little late. If he plays more than twelve games the results should be entertaining texts sent my way at the very least ( actually those are often better when they flat out stink). The NFC is awfully tough all of a sudden, but jump balls are difficult to defend without penalties, and we just might have a very dangerous third wideout ready to do some damage this year alongside Marshall and Jeffrey. Obviously the defense is a work in progress.


           I hope the forthcoming Trestman column indicates additional coverage of the team in much the same way that Peter's connections with the Rams have lent us some inside looks at that organization. I understand that Chicago pretty much has it's own media centers, and that it probably doesn't pay as much for national media to spend a lot of time covering the Bears, but that really should not translate to a site like this. 



Enjoy the vacation Peter.

Thanks for the entertainment and MMQB cast and crew.  

Jazzaloha
Jazzaloha

"I think teams are figuring out there’s a new way to win, and that includes caring for the player as a person, a father and a husband. Creating a locker room full of people who can be themselves can help you win.”


I'm sure this will annoy some, but this sounds like something Pete Carroll has gone far to establish in Seattle

Raiderforlife
Raiderforlife

Paul Zimmerman had something against Ken Stabler not sure if he was a Raider Hater like his mini me Peter King but when he could talk he never said anything good about Ken Stabler. 

Scramble
Scramble

How are the A's fun to watch Pete. They beat the O's because the umpires don't know what a balk is.

Raiderforlife
Raiderforlife

5 hard killers, roadside bomb makers, 911 planners back on the street for a deserter and PK don't have a think to say, scary times. 

KristinDiggins
KristinDiggins

I think every PK article should contain at least one reference to Mr. $am and every sporting event should be held in Jerry World.

Raiderforlife
Raiderforlife

Peter King "Your" president traded 5 cold blooded killer's which turned them lose to go back to the battle field. This morning your non football liberal comments are about some actor playing LBJ, wow the silence says it all hear no evil see no evil. The guy deserted its the biggest trade of my life time you have nothing to say? Well a guess you approve you moon bat.

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

You ask if following the rules is cowardly? I would argue following BAD rules is the *definition* of cowardly. Mr. Rolle brings up a good point about Will Hill, that the players KNOW when they're going to be tested for weed, so clear out that time to not smoke. But for how long? Is there an accepted consensus when players should stop smoking weed? Or is it more logical (& yes, ethical) to wonder why we're abolishing a natural, pain-killing plant.

Imagine, Peter, if we start outlawing gluttonous food (don't be surprised)---what do YOU do, sir? What if you had a huge plate of lasagna around the time period you knew your employer (or the government) would test for such things. Boom, you get popped for gluttony, & bam, now you're suspended from writing. Would it make you wonder why the hell you're not allowed to do what you will, since imbibing what you wish hurts no one? It could be argued the sort of food you eat *hinders* your work, since it will retard the amount of time you potentially have in a lifetime to write. What if they started testing for exercise to insure a healthier employee? On that note, it's pretty clear smoking (or vapourizing) something natural is healthier than taking addictive synthetics...& it's healthier than the personal methods you seem to practice, Peter.

The REAL story in this column however is the theme of "no bullying"---yet we're treated to another "haha, look how much the rookies have to pay at dinner" bon mot. Gross, Peter. Search your soul, you know these things to be true. Unless of course a rule tells you it's not true, then you'd just obey that.

luvfoozball
luvfoozball

@dksherlock Yes, a locker room should be like a cesspit where people are often out to get each other and hate everyone else. 


That will make not getting to the playoffs so much enjoyable, amiright?!!1!!111!!!111

Mike26
Mike26

@Raiderforlife That's so far outside the realm of current or relevant I don't know what to say.

SkeeterSkier
SkeeterSkier

@Raiderforlife...I'm guessing English is a second language for you, so keep it up! I admire someone for their bravery in attempting to communicate when their skills are so elemental.

As for your ignorant, single-faceted political views, I'd like for you to address the fact that President Bush (the dumb one) released over 500 detainees during his term (presumably due to the fact that legal recourse was running thin.)

By the way...the 5 detainees traded for the American POW were rumored (by multiple high-ranking military adjudicators) to be next in line for release in pretty short-order, and President Obama was highly advised to make the deal by his military advisers. The GOP was clamoring - at the time - to bring home POWS; now, some are calling the move treasonous. REALLY?

Another question for you...is a moon bat related to a imbecile? If so, you two share bloodlines!

My advise to you - stick to watching sports, and leave higher order thinking skills to the adults.

Mike26
Mike26

LEAVE NOW TROLL!

Go_Niners!
Go_Niners!

@Raiderforlife You're seriously angry because a football columnist's political views don't reflect yours?  There are plenty of places you can read somebody who says what you're already thinking.  A little conflicting opinion is a good thing.

Mike26
Mike26

@liquidmuse3 You are WAY too serious about these issues, liquidmuse3 - IF that's even your real name!

Wombat
Wombat

@liquidmuse3 Dude you have reeeaaallly over-thought this. Light up and chill!

Raiderforlife
Raiderforlife

@TerrapinStation87 @Raiderforlife Its no my strong point but you might  get what i am trying to say or maybe not. Are you happy what your President has done to return cold Taliban killers loose that sits ok with you. Please correct my sentences give me some help make your self useful

Raiderforlife
Raiderforlife

@Go_Niners! @Raiderforlife The moon bats are killing the country I want to inform the many dumb people that read his bull and try to turn this country around. I am not angry i don't know where you get that. I think we need to have an investigation into why colleage is so expensive but produces non thinking idiots. Do you think its a good thing that your President returned the coldest of killers back to the battlefield where we have men stationed your ok with that?

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

@Wombat @liquidmuse3 ? Personal freedom, bud. And I don't even smoke, but I'm irked at sanctimonious, haughty gents like Peter wagging their finger about other people's personal behaviour, when their behaviour doesn't affect anyone except teammates in this case---& it's asinine that that system is in place to punish players like that. People like Peter just keep the status quo, & there is really no good reason to do so sometimes, other than non-thinking cowardice (a thought Peter brought up himself).


Imagine if cannabis could treat stroke victims, or if it even *prevented* strokes. Would Peter be into that because of his friend Dr. Z? But we don't know, because we're really not allowed to do research on it. If just find Peter's moralizing off-putting, especially when it's something he's willfully ignorant about. 

Mike26
Mike26

@Raiderforlife  You realize the Raiders would be embarrassed to know you're a fan of the organization, don't you?

blynder
blynder

@liquidmuse3 @Wombat

P.King doesn't work for the Government, he works for SI & NBC.  The players in the NFL don't work for the government, they work for the NFL and the teams they are being paid by. Companies have been regulating their employee's behavior for a very long time.  Go read up on some the crazy ish that Kellog used to do. "Personal Freedom" doesn't mean you get to do whatever you want whenever you want.

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