Jim Souhan: Brad Johnson recalls Norv Turner as coach with great feel for the game

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 3, 2014 - 7:55 AM

Norv Turner thrived with long shot Brad Johnson.

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New Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner “can work with anybody,” said one of his former quarterbacks, Brad Johnson.

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

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Brad Johnson rose from ninth-round draft pick to Super Bowl champion because of intense competitiveness and a willingness to prepare.

He’s still got it. The former Viking can barely make it down a flight of stairs because of the beating he took as an NFL quarterback. A lack of mobility doesn’t keep him from preparing to win.

“We were playing George Walton,’’ Johnson said. “So I scouted George Walton 11 times.’’

He was referring to George Walton’s sixth-grade football team.

Johnson decided not to coach professionally, so he coaches his son’s teams in Georgia, and helps with the local JV and varsity basketball program.

“When I retired from playing, I decided I wanted to spend time with my family,” he said. “I couldn’t do that if I was coaching. But I can coach my boys’ teams.”

Johnson led three different franchises to the playoffs. He won a Super Bowl. Had he remained healthy in 1998, he might have led the Vikings to another Super Bowl.

New Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner has worked with blue-chip, first-round quarterbacks such as Troy Aikman and Philip Rivers. He also worked with Johnson, when the two led the Washington football team to the playoffs in 1999 — “last time they had made the playoffs, before 2012,’’ Johnson proudly notes.

As a quarterback who was both a long shot and a success, Johnson has a unique perspective on Turner.

“He’s one of my all-time favorites,” Johnson said. “He had an unbelievable feel for the game. More important than that, he had a great feel for people — who they were and how they functioned. He could find the strengths of each player.

“If there were certain throws I was good at, that’s what we did. If there were certain plays or reads I wasn’t good at, we discarded them. Washington, that year, had a great running game with Stephen Davis, so Norv built our offense off the play-action throw.”

Turner may be coaching a retread, a first-round draft pick or a lower-round pick next fall.

“He can work with anybody,” Johnson said. “It’s kind of like ‘The Horse Whisperer.’ Norv is the quarterback whisperer. There isn’t a play he hasn’t seen or a throw he hasn’t seen. He’s had great success and his systems carry over from one player to the next.”

Johnson played from 1992 through 2008.

“The game has evolved incredibly,” he said. “When I first got into the league, you could read only one side of the field. Then it got to a point where you could read the whole field, with different progressions.

“Then you would call two plays in the huddle. Then you’d call a run and a pass in the huddle. Then we used shifts and motions. Now the defenses are making checks at the line. Now you have both sides making fake checks.

“The game is so fast now. It’s incredible to me how good these quarterbacks are.”

Watching and coaching his sons has given Johnson insights into why someone like Russell Wilson can succeed so quickly in such a complex league.

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Seattle
Toronto 50 3rd Qtr 12:00
Indiana 44
Cleveland 40 2nd Qtr 2:41
Detroit 35
Milwaukee 41 2nd Qtr 5:41
Miami 35
Memphis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Chicago 9:30 PM
Golden State
Washington 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
NY Rangers 0 2nd Prd 6:45
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 2 2nd Prd 9:41
Philadelphia 1
Winnipeg 2 2nd Prd 5:06
Pittsburgh 1
Washington 0 2nd Prd 6:11
Columbus 1
Tampa Bay 1 2nd Prd
Carolina 2
Dallas 1 2nd Prd
Montreal 2
Detroit 1 2nd Prd
Florida 2
Colorado 0 1st Prd 9:04
Nashville 0
Buffalo 8:00 PM
Calgary
Minnesota 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Anaheim 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Ball State 34 2nd Half 12:55
Akron 41
Northern Ill 26 2nd Half 12:53
Bowling Green 35
Western Mich 46 2nd Half 11:25
Buffalo 49
Ohio 24 2nd Half 9:55
Eastern Mich 53
Xavier 38 2nd Half 14:39
Georgetown 26
Vanderbilt 40 2nd Half 9:26
Georgia 48
West Virginia 26 2nd Half 17:23
Kansas State 27
Central Mich 26 2nd Half 13:21
Kent State 41
Saint Josephs 36 2nd Half 9:50
La Salle 32
Nebraska 30 2nd Half 9:47
Michigan 45
Miami-Ohio 46 2nd Half 11:11
Toledo 48
Tulsa 38 2nd Half 12:01
Tulane 30
George Washington 29 2nd Half 13:00
VA Commonwealth 43
Pittsburgh 40 2nd Half 12:59
Virginia Tech 35
Indiana State 13 1st Half 14:03
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Tabor College 8 1st Half 11:44
Oral Roberts 22
Florida 8:00 PM
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Tennessee 8:00 PM
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Texas A&M 8:00 PM
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Baylor 8:00 PM
Oklahoma State
DePaul 0 Postponed
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Michigan State 0 Postponed
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San Diego St
UNLV 9:00 PM
Nevada
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UCF 38
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High Point 49
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Radford 34
UNC-Asheville 41 2nd Half 11:40
Liberty 47
Winthrop 48 2nd Half 10:05
Longwood 49
Columbia International 28 2nd Half 7:08
Charleston Southern 62
Tulane 8 1st Half 11:19
Houston 10
(3) Baylor 24 1st Half 9:48
TCU 23
Navy 10 1st Half 10:25
American Univ 18
Valparaiso 7 1st Half 8:06
Illinois-Chicago 14
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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