Norv Turner (Jeff Gross/Getty)
The Vikings are close to hiring respected offensive mind Norv Turner as their offensive coordinator, according to multiple reports, and experienced defensive mind George Edwards as their defensive coordinator.
When the Vikings agreed to terms with head coach Mike Zimmer, it was expected that he would make changes to the Vikings coaching staff. That process didn’t take long, as he tabbed veteran offensive coach Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator. The Vikings are close to hiring Turner, according to ESPN and FOX Sports and have agreed to terms with Miami Dolphins linebackers coach George Edwards as defensive coordinator.
Turner’s resume is extensive and includes a pair of Super Bowl titles. He earned his place in NFL history as Jimmy Johnson’s offensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys from 1991-93, winning back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the process. It began a long and storied career as an offensive coordinator and head coach in run-first offenses.
When Turner was with the Cowboys, it helped establish Emmitt Smith as one of the dominant running backs in the league and earned him a head coaching job with division rival Washington – a position he held from 1994-2000. After spending two seasons as the O.C. in Miami, he got the head coaching job in Oakland, which lasted two seasons. In 2007, Turner was hired as the head coach in San Diego, where LaDainian Tomlinson was the focal point of his offense and Philip Rivers became an elite quarterback.
Most recently, Turner served as the offensive coordinator in Cleveland, where the offense was intended to be a run-first gig before the team traded Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for a first-round pick in this year’s draft.
Last year, the Browns finished with the 18th-ranked offense and 11th-ranked passing attack despite the only real star among skill-position players being receiver Josh Gordon. The quarterbacks in Cleveland were Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden after Brian Hoyer suffered a knee injury.
Turner’s professional resume as an NFL coach extends 38 years and his experience ranges from both the AFC and NFC – the last 23 of those being as either an offensive coordinator or head coach. His career has included stops with the Rams, Cowboys, Redskins, Chargers, Dolphins, Raiders, 49ers, Chargers and Browns.
The Vikings get a wealth of experience from a coach whose career has spanned the evolution of the NFL game from a run-first operation to a pass-happy league that, unless one has a star running back, has been rendered largely moot. His primary task with the Vikings will be to augment Adrian Peterson’s skill set with a quarterback that can be effective as a change of pace. He helped develop Troy Aikman and Rivers into star players and will likely have a similar job in front of him with the Vikings, whether they keep the current cast of quarterbacks or draft one in the first round.
Rivers became the fifth player in league history to pass for more than 4,500 yards in consecutive seasons (2010-11) with Turner as his head coach.
His pairing with the Vikings’ personnel, mostly notably Peterson, could be an ideal partnership. Turner’s offenses have produced the NFL’s leading rusher five times through three different players in Emmitt Smith (1991-93), Ricky Williams (2002) and LaDainian Tomlinson (2007).
With Turner, Zimmer not only has a coach who has a wealth of experience, but a coach who has multiple playoff runs, including a pair of Super Bowl titles to his credit.
FOX Sports reports that Turner’s son, Scott, who was the Browns’ receivers coach in 2013, could be the new quarterbacks coach for the Vikings.
With Edwards as their defensive coordinator, the Vikings also hired an experienced hand. Before he was with the Dolphins, Edwards spent two seasons as the Buffalo Bills’ defensive coordinator, where he ran a base 3-4 defense that employed multiple fronts.
In 2010, the Bills’ pass defense yielded an average of 192.0 passing yards per game, third in the AFC, while producing nine fumble recoveries to tie for fourth in the AFC and forcing 12 fumbles to tie for fifth in the AFC.
Edwards also coached with the Dolphins prior to joining the Bills, and spent time with the Browns (2004), Redskins (2002-03, defensive coordinator in 2003) and Dallas Cowboys (1998-2001).
While Zimmer was brought in to revamp the Vikings defense and Edwards will be integral in that process, Zimmer’s choice for offensive coordinator speaks volumes. Expect to see Turner have free reign to develop the offense around players like Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings and Kyle Rudolph. While some may view Turner as being old-school, you only become old-school because you’ve been around the NFL long enough to earn that distinction and there’s little doubting that Turner has seen his share of the NFL wars and, along way, coached Hall of Fame running backs and tailored his offenses to fit around those star players.
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