Offensive Turner-around

The 49ers introduced Norv Turner as their offensive coordinator today during an afternoon news conference. Say what you will about his sketchy performance as a head coach with the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders, but Turner has impeccable credentials when responsible solely for running a NFL offense, turning around several immediately upon joining new teams. Here's a quick look at the results Turner has produced since moving up to his first OC role with the Dallas Cowboys 15 years ago.

Offensive coordinator, Dallas Cowboys, 1991-1993: Turner, coming off six seasons as receivers/tight ends coach with the Los Angeles Rams (he was offensive coordinator at USC in 1984 before joining the NFL ranks), took over a Dallas offense that ranked 28th in the 28-team NFL in 1990. By 1992, the Cowboys were in the Super Bowl with one of the league's most dynamic offenses. Dallas finished with consecutive No. 4 NFL rankings in total offense in 1992 and 1993, winning back-to-back Super Bowls after those two seasons, which provided Turner a springboard to his first head coaching opportunity with the Redskins at age 42. During his short time in Dallas, Turner helped mold some of the league's top offensive performers of that NFL era in quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, receiver Michael Irvin and a host of others.

Head coach, Washington Redskins, 1994-2000: As head coach of the Redskins, Turner also served in the role as the team's offensive coordinator, which is not uncommon for offensive-minded head coaches. The Redskins had four winning seasons and finished with a 49-59-1 regular-season record during Turner's tenure, going 10-6 in 1999 to capture Washington's first NFC East championship since 1991. The Redskins finished ranked No. 2 in NFL offense that season. After scoring just 230 points the season before he arrived, the Redskins never scored fewer than 319 points with Turner in charge, producing 443 in 1999. Turner developed several starting quarterbacks in Washington, as Gus Frerotte (3,453 passing yards in 1996), Trent Green (3,441 in 1998) and Brad Johnson (4,005 in 1999) all produced banner seasons under his guidance. The Redskins, who averaged 267.1 yards per game the season before Turner arrived, had improved to 324 yards a game by his second season with the team and averaged 372.8 yards in 1999, when Turner had a defensive coordinator by the name of Mike Nolan, who worked in that capacity in Washington from 1997-1999.

Offensive coordinator, San Diego Chargers, 2001: After being fired in Washington by restless owner Daniel Snyder in 2000 despite a 6-2 start, Turner had no problem getting a job the next season, resurfacing as offensive coordinator with the Chargers. San Diego finished 28th in the NFL in total offense in 2000, but Turner had the Chargers up to 11th in that category by the end of the next season. The Chargers averaged 325 yards a game – up from 268.8 yards the season before – and produced a 1,200-yard rusher in rookie LaDainian Tomlinson and a 1,000-yard receiver in Curtis Conway as Turner also coaxed a 3,464-yard passing season out of aging quarterback Doug Flutie, the finest season of Flutie's NFL career.

Assistant head coach/offensive coordinator, Miami Dolphins, 2002-2003: After his one-year stint in San Diego, Turner joined former Dallas cohort Dave Wannstedt in Miami, and he immediately had the Dolphins' running game up to a No. 2 NFL ranking in his first season. That represented a 21-spot improvement in the league rankings over the year before and represented Miami's highest finish since its Super Bowl team of 1972. The Dolphins recorded significant improvement in several offensive categories, including scoring and red zone efficiency, while finishing 15th in the league in total offense with 337 yards per game, Miami's highest finish since 1997. Ricky Williams produced a team-record and NFL-high 1,853 yards rushing and finished with 1,372 the next season under Turner's tutelage. Turner also was responsible for the development of Jay Fiedler into a starting NFL quarterback, and the Dolphins finished 9-7 and 10-6 in Turner's two years with the team before another head coaching position beckoned.

Head coach, Oakland Raiders, 2004-2005: In his first season with the Raiders, Oakland finished fourth in the AFC in net yards passing per play despite losing quarterback Rich Gannon – the NFL MVP two seasons before – to a career-ending injury in Week 3. After Gannon was lost, Kerry Collins came on to throw for 3,495 yards and 21 touchdowns the rest of the way as the Raiders produced three wideouts who had 500 yards receiving or more. Oakland climbed to 17th in NFL total offense, an improvement of eight spots from the season before. But Turner's second season in Oakland was deemed a failure as the Raiders, despite adding top offensive weapons such as receiver Randy Moss and running back LaMont Jordan, slipped to a No. 21 finish in total offense, leading to their coach being dismissed by owner Al Davis on Jan. 3. Thus, Turner was available when the 49ers suddenly needed to find a new offensive coordinator after Mike McCarthy was named head coach of the Green Bay Packers last week after spending just one season as San Francisco's offensive coordinator, a season during which McCarthy guided the 49ers' to a last-place finish in the NFL offensive rankings.


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