After Monday’s win over the Giants, coach Mike Zimmer said one thing the Vikings did to make quarterback Sam Bradford comfortable so quickly was changing some of their terminology to accommodate the new guy.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner was asked about that today, and he said that the changes include the use of more one-word play names.
Turner used “code names” when he was with the Chargers, most often in two-minute situations. When the Chargers let him go and he joined the Browns as offensive coordinator in 2013, head coach Rob Chudzinski — who coached under Turner in San Diego — used code words much more often after having success with them in Carolina with a young Cam Newton.
Quarterbacks coach Scott Turner, Norv’s son, also came from Carolina.
“[The Panthers wanted] to make it simpler for him. And they used a lot of code names. We use a lot of the same code names they use,” Turner said. “Scott and Chud and I were in Cleveland together and when I first saw it, I said, ‘What have you guys done to this offense that I’ve been coaching for 25 years?’ [But] we’ve continued to use code names. It’s pretty creative and some guys are really good at coming up with different names in our time together. But yeah, we’ve started to use a lot more code names.”
Unfortunately, “Purple Rain” was never actually one of those names.
Turner went on to explain the pros and cons of using code names as opposed to long but illustrative calls from the Coryell numbering system.
“You can use a one-word name. Take ‘Warrior’ for example. [You can say] ‘Dodge Warrior’ and you’ve called the protection and you’ve called the routes for everybody. That makes everything faster,” Turner said. “Now, it puts a burden on the players because they have to respond to the code name. That play, ‘Warrior,’ when we ran it in San Diego was ‘752 H Arrow, F 9 swing.’ So ‘Warrior’ is much easier. The numbering system, when calling it, you tell everyone what to do. So there’s a give and take.”
Presumably, Turner was willing to tell reporters — and subsequently future opponents — what “Warrior” meant a few years ago because that code word does not mean the same thing anymore. The Vikings, in the spy-versus-spy NFL, change them up to avoid tipping off their plays.
“You’re not using the same code names every week,” he said. “If you’re playing somebody in the division — or like when we played Carolina, they use a lot of the same code names — we had to change some of them because you certainly don’t want to tell them what you’re doing.”
Zimmer said after today’s practice that some of the full play calls “are pretty wordy” and that these quick play calls are common across the league.
“I think it is pretty much going all over,” he said. “I don’t know how many no-huddle teams we’ve played this year. … But it happens all the time.”
Asked if the Vikings use them on defense, too, Zimmer cracked a joke.
“I’m not very smart, so we have to do things simple,” he said with a grin.