Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
NEW YORK -- Michael Irvin admits he’s biased when it comes to Norv Turner because Turner did, after all, help him win two of the three Super Bowl rings he collected during a Hall of Fame career with the Dallas Cowboys.
“I think the world of Norv,” Irvin, the former receiver turned NFL Network analyst, said of his former offensive coordinator with the Cowboys in the early 1990s.
And now Irvin thinks the world of the Vikings’ decision to hire Turner as new head coach Mike Zimmer’s offensive coordinator. As for the Cleveland Browns, who allowed Turner to walk when head coach Rob Chudzinski was fired after just one season, Irvin is anything but impressed.
“I’m absolutely blown away with Cleveland allowing what they’ve allowed to transpire with Norv,:” Irvin said today during Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day at the Prudential Center, home of the New Jersey Devils. “They had a guy like [receiver] Josh Gordon in Norv’s system, and I think he had the best year by a wide receiver after missing two games and playing with four different quarterbacks this season. To say, `OK, we’re changing up everything.’ That blows my mind.”
Gordon led the league in receiving and was an instrumental part of the Browns’ upset of the Vikings at the Metrodome in Week 3.
“Norv, with a guy like Adrian Peterson, will help the Vikings,” Irvin said. “A guy like Norv knows how to orchestrate an up-the-field passing game. The Vikings are usually playing defenses that stack the line of scrimmage because of the fear of Adrian Peterson. Norv is going to put defenses in some real binds. He’s going to develop an up-the-field passing game along with Adrian Peterson. To develop that down-the-field attack and then hand the ball off? It will be a dangerous combination.”
And, yes, Irvin believes Turner can do all of this with Matt Cassel or whichever quarterback the Vikings end up setting on in 2014.
“I watched Norv do it with four different quarterbacks with Josh Gordon last season, sSo he’ll find his quarterback,” Irvin said. “I don’t know if Cassel is his guy. But he’ll find his quarterback and he’ll find his passing system. I promise you that.”
NEW YORK -- So how should we view former Vikings receiver/returner/pain-in-management's-backside Percy Harvin and his potential impact on Sunday's Super Bowl XLVIII?
Is he an overpaid, injury-prone superstar who will make a cameo, get hurt and be forgotten as Vikings fans continue to enjoy the three draft picks their team received in return last offseason? Or is he a semi-secret weapon who will perform like an explosive playmaker, using fresh legs and a fierce attitude to elevate Seattle's OK passing attack while being remembered forever in Super Bowl history?
Seahawks teammate and fellow receiver Golden Tate voted for the latter Monday evening when asked what it means for Harvin to return after missing 15 regular-season games and the NFC Championship game.
“I think it's huge," Golden Tate said. "I really admire the way he plays the game. He’s had some tough breaks this year, but at the end of the day he’s had a positive attitude, staying positive. He’s ready to go. I’m excited to have him back on the field. He brings another whole dimension to this offense and to special teams. (He is) just another weapon on this offense, another playmaker (and) another guy who can break the game at any point.
"I feel like on this team, we have playmakers all over the place: (quarterback) Russell (Wilson), myself, “Beast Mode” (running back Marshawn Lynch), (wide receiver) Percy (Harvin) (and tight end) Zach (Miller). On the other side of the ball, you’ve got (strong safety) Cam (Chancellor), (free safety) Earl (Thomas), (cornerback) Richard (Sherman), (cornerback) Byron Maxwell is showing up, (linebacker) Bobby Wagner. We have guys that can make plays all day.”"
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Harvin is good to go and will can do everything asked of him. That means Harvin should be returning kickoffs as well as playing receiver. In his only regular-season game in 2013, which, naturally, was against the Vikings, Harvin's 58-yard kickoff return right before halftime was a turning point in a close contest that became a 40-21 Seahawks rout.
Heading over to Super Bowl media day soon. Will have more updates later in the day.
Well, you had to figure the weather worrywarts would start to think in worst-case, mother-of-all-storms scenarios with regard to Super Bowl XLVIII, the first Super Bowl to be played outdoors in a cold-weather site.
It didn't help that New Jersey governor Chris Christie just called a state of emergency on Tuesday. Or that 1,000 workers had to clear 13 inches of snow out of MetLife Stadium.
With that storm came the focus on the NFL's contingency plans, which include playing the game anywhere from Friday, Jan. 31 to Monday, Feb. 3. Unless this happens, you can count on the Super Bowl being played, as expected, on Sunday, Feb. 2.
The forecast for the game, by the way, is for a high of 40 degrees with a 30 percent chance of snow or rain. The game starts at 6:25 ET, so, yeah, it's going to be cold.
But don't worry about those poor souls paying hundreds of dollars for face-value tickets and thousands of dollars from scalpers. According to the NFL, each ticket-holder will get (be patient, this will take a while) ear muffs, a hat, a scarf, mittens, lip balm, a cup holder, a radio, a seat cushion, a waist-wrap thing like quarterbacks wear and tissues. No word on whether fans will have to apply the tissues themselves.
It appears the snow-removal team passed in its dress rehearsal this week. So bring on the cold, says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
"We are embracing the weather," he said this week. "Football is played in the elements."
We’ll learn more about new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when the team introduces him Friday morning. Until then, it’s safe to assume the guy works quickly.
Amid an ESPN report that veteran former NFL head coach and noted offensive mind Norv Turner is close to becoming the Vikings’ offensive coordinator, another report has surfaced that Zimmer has landed his defensive coordinator as well.
According to Fox Sports’ Alex Marvez, Dolphins linebackers coach George Edwards will leave Miami to join Zimmer as defensive coordinator.
Keep in mind, however, that the team has not announced any hires to Zimmer's coaching staff.
Edwards, 47, coached together in Dallas with Zimmer. From 1998 to 1999, they were position coaches together. From 2000 to 2001, Zimmer was defensive coordinator while Edwards continued to coach the linebackers.
This would be Edwards’ third stint as an NFL defensive coordinator. He was the defensive coordinator for the Redskins in 2003 and the Bills from 2010 to 2011. Edwards was in his second season as the Dolphins’ linebackers coach.
Turner, meanwhile, has been a head coach in Washington, Oakland and San Diego. His greatest success, however, came as the offensive coordinator on the Cowboys teams that won two Super Bowls during the 1990s.
Tony Dungy, the former Gophers quarterback and Vikings defensive coordinator who went on to become the first African American head coach to win the Super Bowl, took another step toward the Pro Football Hall of Fame by making this year’s list of 15 modern-era finalists in his first year of eligibility, the Hall of Fame announced on Thursday night.
Joining Dungy as first-year eligible finalists are two players he coached – Buccaneers 11-time Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks and Colts receiver Marvin Harrison, who ranks third in NFL history in receptions (1,102) and fifth in receiving touchdowns (128) – as well as Seahawks nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones. Another former player of Dungy's -- Buccaneers safety John Lynch -- also made the final 15.
"This would be something beyond belief," Dungy said on the NFL Network when asked what it feel like to enter the Hall of Fame alongside Brooks, Harrison and Lynch, who is in his second year of eligibility. "When we [got to Tampa Bay], we just talked about building a structure and getting a team that could win some games. I got to Indianapolis and saw Marvin Harrison operate. ... To see him practice and do what he does and be the focal point to the point where everybody was trying to stop him. We didn't put him in motion, we didn't move him around. We put him on the right side. You could triple cover him if you wanted to, and to catch 140 to 150 balls every year, it was just phenomenal. So I am looking forward to all three of these young men go into the Hall of Fame."
Also selected from the list of 25 modern-era semifinalists were: kicker Morten Andersen, running back Jerome Bettis, receiver Tim Brown, owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., linebacker Kevin Greene, defensive end Charles Haley, receiver Andre Reed, guard Will Shields, defensive end Michael Strahan and safety Aeneas Williams.
The group of finalists will be joined by two senior nominees, Ray Guy and Claude Humphrey, for consideration for the Class of 2014. The entire 46-member Selection Committee will meet on Feb. 1 in New York City to hold its annual selection meeting on the eve of the next day’s Super Bowl in New York. Between four and seven new Hall of Famers are chosen each year. No more than five modern era finalists can be chosen.
Dungy, 58, spent four years as a Gophers quarterback, but joined Chuck Noll’s Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty as a safety from 1977 to 1978. He won a Super Bowl before moving on to the 49ers in 1979 and a brief stint with the Giants before being released before the 1980 season.
Dungy spent the 1980 season coaching defensive backs at the University of Minnesota before moving back to the NFL as Steelers defensive backs coach (1981 to ’83) and defensive coordinator (1984 to ’88). He went on to be Chiefs defensive backs coach from 1989 to ’91 and Vikings defensive coordinator from 1992 to ’95 before getting his first head coaching job.
In 13 seasons as an NFL head coach in Tampa Bay (1996 to 2001) and Indianapolis (2002 to ’08), Dungy’s only losing season was his first in Tampa Bay. He posted a 148-79 record (.652), including a 9-10 postseason mark that included a 29-17 win over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
Anderson played 25 seasons, finishing his career with the Vikings in 2004.
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