Turner's offense is a soup of influences

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 19, 2014 - 11:48 PM

Norv Turner has picked the brains of great offensive minds to shape his coaching philosophy.


After eight seasons of running West Coast schemes, Vikings players are learning a more wide-open offensive system with roots that stretch back to both the early days of Air Coryell and the heyday of John Robinson’s power-running Southern California Trojans.

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner, whose 40th season as a coach will be his first with the Vikings, was a player at Oregon when Robinson was an assistant there. Turner then followed Robinson to USC and the Los Angeles Rams.

As for the passing game, Turner isn’t a direct disciple of Don Coryell’s famous route-numbering system, although he did observe Coryell’s San Diego training camp practices as a guest of former college teammate and then-Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts. Turner picked up the system in full when Ernie Zampese, one of Coryell’s prized pupils, joined the Rams in 1987.

“When I left the Rams in 1991 to go to Dallas as offensive coordinator, I took what I thought was the best part of our running game and the best part of the passing game that Ernie brought,” said Turner, who helped the Cowboys win two Super Bowls in three seasons. “But I think I’ve added something to the system every year based on the coaches I’ve been with and the players I’ve had.”

Rather than identifying routes and plays by name, Coryell’s three-digit system was based on a numbered route tree that was intended to help players visualize a concept and excel more quickly.

“Once you conceptualize it, it becomes easier,” quarterback Matt Cassel said. “You just can’t see the numbers, whether a 6 is an in-cut. You have to be able to conceptualize that ‘Seam 678’ means something and be able to see that whole picture in your mind.”

Running back Adrian Peterson compared the team’s early practices with Turner to “performing open heart surgery without a license.” But as training camp opens this week, players say the learning process is progressing well, not only because of extra practice time but also because Turner has spent 30 years compiling film cutups of players executing the same plays the Vikings are working on now.

There’s also an obvious trust factor based on Turner’s track record. Besides the two Super Bowl rings, Turner’s offenses have produced three top-five scoring attacks since 2007, five league rushing champions — Emmitt Smith (1991 to 1993), Ricky Williams (2002) and LaDainian Tomlinson (2007) — and two receiving champions — Michael Irvin (1991) and Josh Gordon (2013).

“It takes time, but it also helps when there are cutups of a Jay Novacek running an ‘Odd 9’ and catching a touchdown in the Super Bowl,” Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “Or a Michael Irvin running the ‘Bang 8.’ Norv has been doing this longer than I’ve been alive, so you know it works. You can visualize it just by watching all these past players run the same exact play in a Super Bowl that we’re working on in an OTA in May.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 2 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 9
Washington 0 FINAL
Miami 8
Boston 4 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Houston 3
Toronto - WP: C. Hynes 9 FINAL
Boston - LP: D. Hinojosa 7
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Norberto 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Whitley 0
St. Louis 5 FINAL
NY Mets 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Kansas City 4
LA Angels 1 FINAL
Oakland 4
San Diego 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox 2
Chicago WSox 12 FINAL
Seattle 4
Cleveland 2 FINAL
San Francisco 5
Milwaukee 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 11
Arizona 3 FINAL
Cincinnati 0
Texas 4 FINAL
Colorado 10
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
Baltimore 3
Detroit 78 FINAL
Charlotte 102
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Washington 106
San Antonio 103 FINAL
Orlando 91
Indiana 87 FINAL
Boston 100
Brooklyn 100 FINAL
New York 98
Chicago 91 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Dallas 135 FINAL
Oklahoma City 131
Sacramento 111 FINAL
Houston 115
Toronto 113 FINAL
Minnesota 99
Denver 84 FINAL
Utah 98
LA Clippers 126 FINAL
Portland 122
New Orleans 113 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Toronto 3 FINAL
Buffalo 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Anaheim 5
Colorado 1 FINAL
San Jose 5
Loyola-Chicago 63 FINAL
ULM 62
Michigan 65
Temple 58 FINAL
West Virginia 66
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



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




question of the day

Poll: What should the Vikings do with Adrian Peterson?

Weekly Question