Turner working to ‘modernize' his offense

Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner is challenging himself and his assistants to modernize the scheme that he has been implementing for 30 years.

Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner has been coaching and coordinating quarterbacks and offenses in the NFL since 1985, but he's taking steps to "modernize" his offense in his first season in Minnesota.

The first thing Turner said Wednesday at his minicamp press conference was this isn't going to be "his" offense as much as it is one that is specialized toward the talents on the Minnesota Vikings' roster.

"There is a big part of this offense that's been the same and is sound and is always going to be the same," said the 30-year veteran of the NFL who is in his first season with the Vikings. "Guys who played in this offense 30, 20, 10 years ago would recognize it. What we've done … is we tried to do some things that we looked to people that were having some success offensively and modernized this offense a little bit, updated it a little bit."

Turner has been running essentially the same offense since he became offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys in 1991 and enjoyed the early benefits of having Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. Now, Turner is likely looking at players like Cordarrelle Patterson and Jerick McKinnon that have more versatility, even if they obviously don't come with the credentials that the powerhouse players of the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s quickly established.

Of course, one of the first things Turner had to look at was the production of Adrian Peterson. Turner and Smith excelled more than 20 years ago together, so having another running back that can pick up the hard yards in between the tackles is familiar territory.

But the game has changed, and Turner is trying to adapt with that.

"All the coaches, we said early that we're going to get ourselves out of our comfort zone and look at some things that will give us a chance to have more success," he said. "Obviously, a big part of that is finding ways for Adrian to not have to run in such crowded areas all the time. He's going to have to do that – that's part of his job, he's the best in the league at it. But if we can get him in more space, we can take advantage of his great abilities."

That said, Turner also seems ready to adapt from week to week and set his game plan based on the upcoming opponent's defense.

"The biggest thing in this league is you have so many different varieties of defense. We want to have a complete offense and we want to be able to attack the defense's weaknesses," Turner said. "If that means being a power run team one week and being a spread team another week, being the team that's capable of throwing the ball if they're overplaying the run or running the ball when they give you opportunities to run, the biggest thing to me, and probably if you ask our players, this is the thing I've talked most about: we want to be a team that plays its best in the fourth quarter in the most critical times.

"If you can run the ball when people are trying to stop the run, that's the ultimate. We're just trying to be the most complete offense we can be. If you're going to be a complete offense, you have to play great in situations – third downs, red zone, two-minute, those are the ones that are most critical to me."

The Vikings will also have to settle on a quarterback to best distribute the ball when needed, but for now Turner is trying to freshen up his game in order to improve the Vikings' game plans.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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