Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner began his introductory news conference on Thursday with an apology. It has been reported for weeks that Turner would join new coach Mike Zimmer’s staff, but he declined to comment, along with the rest of the staff, until the timing was right for the organization.
“But I’m here, and I’m here with a good group and excited to be part of this organization,” Turner said
Three weeks after Zimmer’s hiring, the Vikings finally announced his coaching staff. Turner was one of 11 new Vikings coaches, including defensive coordinator George Edwards.
Among the six coaches Zimmer retained was special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who is at the center of an independent review involving allegations made by former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe.
Kluwe claimed Priefer made anti-gay remarks in 2012 and was part of the reason why Kluwe was cut in early 2013. The Vikings launched an investigation into Kluwe’s claims, which Priefer denied, in early January. The investigation, headed by former Minnesota chief justice Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Department of Justice attorney Chris Madel, is expected to wrap up next month.
Kluwe’s attorney, Clayton Halunen, criticized the team’s decision to retain Priefer.
“It appears from our point of view that this whole investigation may have been one big charade,” Halunen said. “The [Vikings] are just going to protect Priefer as if nothing happened and simply pretend that this outrageous conduct didn’t occur, when the evidence is quite the contrary.”
Meanwhile, Zimmer’s hiring of Turner unites veteran NFL assistants who both spent time with the Dallas Cowboys but never coached together. Now they will.
“I’ve had a couple friends that were in Dallas that always said you and Zimmer would, if you paired up, it would be good,” Turner said. “So we’re going to find out.”
Turner, who spent last season as Browns offensive coordinator, brings 15 years of head coaching experience to the Vikings, who hired a first-time head coach in Zimmer.
“I’m sure he has strong opinions of how he wants to do things and if there’s something he wants to lean on me, I’ll give him my opinion,’’ Turner said.
Turner would like to create a balanced but explosive offense featuring a hard-nosed running style and a big-play passing game.
Quarterback will be his biggest need in the offseason. The Vikings will have one QB — Christian Ponder — on the roster with Matt Cassel expecting to opt out and Josh Freeman heading to free agency.
“Everyone is in agreement that we are trying to add a young quarterback to the organization,” Turner said. “We just have to make sure it’s a good one wherever we get him.”
Edwards has known Zimmer since he received his first NFL coaching job as Cowboys linebackers coach in 1998. Zimmer and Edwards spent four years together in Dallas, and Edwards said he learned that Zimmer is a stickler with preparation.
“He’s always got guys in position to make plays, and you just know we’re going to do things the right way,” Edwards said. “We’re going to pay attention to the fundamentals and our techniques that we need to play.”
Edwards, who coordinated defenses for the Redskins (2003) and Bills (2010-11), wouldn’t say if the Vikings would use a 3-4 or a 4-3 base defense.
“We’re just in the evaluation process, and we’re going to put guys in and line them up where we think is the best for them to have success,” he said.