Hartman: Turner should boost Vikings' stale offense

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 20, 2014 - 2:49 PM

The team’s expected new offensive coordinator has long been on Mike Zimmer’s radar as a potential assistant.

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Norv Turner, the Vikings' expected new offensive coordinator, has long been on Mike Zimmer's radar as a potential assistant.

New Vikings coach Mike Zimmer couldn’t confirm Norv Turner’s hiring as the team’s offensive coordinator yet, because he is waiting to announce hirings for the rest of his staff, but he was asked why Turner was the first coach he targeted to join him, along with his son, Adam, who is assumed to be coming here to work with the defensive backs.

“I played against Norv many, many times. He’s been a great offensive coordinator in the NFL for a number of years,” Zimmer said. “So if he ends up coming, I think he does a great job in the running game and does a great job in play-action passes. He likes to throw the ball vertically down the field. He loves big receivers, as he did with [former Cowboys star] Michael Irvin and last year with [Josh Gordon] in Cleveland, who had all kinds of yards. So we’re just still going through the process and I’m sure there’s some other guys that you’ll hear about as well.”

Zimmer also described how he’s known Turner for several years.

“I went [to the Cowboys] a couple years after him,” he said. “The one thing is we’ve always stayed in touch. I played against him a lot when he was with the Redskins and Miami and also in San Diego. I have known him over the years.”

Zimmer said being in the NFL as an assistant coach for 20 years gave him a mental list of candidates that could potentially join his staff if he were ever given a head coaching position.

“When you start interviewing for jobs you have to make a list of guys, because they always want to know who is a possibility of coming with you,” he said. “But the one thing that you find out a lot is that not everybody — they are either under contract and they can’t come with you or they have decided to go to another place. You have to have quite an in-depth list of guys. I have been in the NFL for 20 years, been a coordinator for 12. I have played against quite a few guys that I believe are very, very good coaches and teachers.”

Turner one of the best

When Turner is formally announced as the new offensive coordinator, he will become the most accomplished coach to take that role in Vikings team history.

Turner has been an offensive coordinator or head coach in the NFL since 1991, when he got his first coordinating job with the Cowboys. He would win two Super Bowls there with Jimmy Johnson in 1992 and 1993 before becoming head coach of the Redskins in 1994.

Turner also was head coach of the Raiders in 2004-05 and the Chargers from 2007-12.

His 114 victories as a head coach are tied for 30th with George Seifert on the NFL career list. The only Vikings head coach to record more wins than Turner is Bud Grant, who had 158.

Turner should truly help the Vikings’ passing game. From 2008-2011 with the Chargers, Turner had the seventh-, fifth-, second- and sixth-rated passing attack in the NFL. He also finished in the top 10 all three seasons as offensive coordinator in Dallas.

Turner spent last season as offensive coordinator in Cleveland, taking a depleted quarterback position where Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell accounted for 584 of the Browns’ 681 passing attempts, and moving the team to 11th in passing yards in the NFL with 252.5 per game, compared to their 2012 mark of 214.7 per game, which was 19th in the league.

Vikings fans got to see some of Turner’s work this season as also helped Brian Hoyer, a third-stringer, defeat the Vikings 31-27 in Week 3 this year. Hoyer threw for 321 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in his first NFL start.

Iowa quiets Hollins

That was a strange way for the Gophers to lose 94-73 at Iowa on Sunday after leading by 10 points at 43-33 with 1:13 left in the first half. That’s a 61-30 run for the Hawkeyes from then out.

Iowa outscored the Gophers 53-30 in the second half with Gophers junior guard Andre Hollins, who was 5-for-7 in the first half with 18 points, going 0-for-3 with two free throws in the second half to finish with 20 points.

That’s the Gophers’ second consecutive road game with an unproductive second-half performance — including their nearly 13-minute field-goal drought against Michigan State last week.

Jottings

• Gophers football coach Jerry Kill was asked how he feels about his quarterback situation now that Philip Nelson has decided to transfer. “We feel very, very good about our football team and we feel very, very good about our quarterback situation,” Kill said. “It’s great with Mitch [Leidner] and I know he’s excited about leading our football team, and his job is to make sure he tutors Chris Streveler and [incoming freshman] Dimonic [McKinzy] and get them moving along, Conor Rhoda, and get them better. We feel good about our football team, we feel good about our quarterback situation, and as I said a year ago, we’ll be better. We’ll have a better football team overall, and that’s our job. We’ve improved it each year and we’ll continue to move it forward.”

• A week ago when Denver beat San Diego to advance to the AFC Championship Game, former Gopher Eric Decker muffed a San Diego onside kick, giving the Charges an opportunity to stay in the game. But Sunday, when the Patriots tried an onside kick, Decker grabbed the kick and held on. Decker also had a big day receiving with five receptions for 73 yards in the Broncos’ 26-16 victory, sending him to his first Super Bowl.

• In this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, Apple Valley point guard Tyus Jones and Sydney Moss, the daughter of former Vikings receiver Randy Moss, were recognized as Faces in the Crowd, a feature section on some of the best high school and college athletes in the country. Jones was named for scoring 28 points in a victory in the Timberwolves Shootout. Moss was mentioned for recording her sixth double-double for Thomas More College in Kentucky.

• Some 72 former, current and minor league Twins players will be on hand Friday, Saturday and Sunday when the annual TwinsFest will be held for the first time at Target Field. Autographs and pictures with the players will be available, with tickets available for all sessions except Saturday, which is sold out.

• Former Gophers cornerback Tramaine Brock continues to be an important part of the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive backfield. Brock had six tackles in the Seahawks’ 23-17 victory over the 49ers on Sunday. During the regular season, Brock had 37 tackles and five interceptions.

• The Timberwolves are now 19-21, and what’s amazing is that with all of their struggles in close games, they have now won nine games by 20 or more points — most in the NBA — including their 98-72 drubbing of the Jazz on Saturday.

 

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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