Jeff Fisher, the defensive-minded head coach of the St. Louis Rams, has seen his share of Norv Turner-led offenses.
Fisher isn’t sure how many times he faced Turner, but Fisher is in his 29th NFL season and Turner is in his 30th NFL season.
“I’m very familiar with Norv and what he does. He always does an outstanding job,” Fisher said Wednesday in advance of another matchup between the two veteran coaches and coordinators. “I would say Norv is probably walking around with a smile on his face right now because of the players he’s working with. It’s potentially a very, very explosive offense. The longer they work together, the better they’re going to be.”
The offensive line is going into its third season with the same starters intact, but Matt Cassel is making his first start on opening day for the Minnesota Vikings, Adrian Peterson will be seeing his first action since taking the preseason off, and Cordarrelle Patterson is entering his first year as a full-time starter.
The Vikings had a successful preseason on offense, with Cassel and his backup quarterbacks leading the league with a 104.0 passer rating. Cassel was at 103.3. But Fisher admits that defenses always start with stopping the running game and that is even more important when Peterson is the running back.
In 2012, Peterson rushed for 212 yards and two touchdowns, including an 82-yard run, against the Rams.
“Coaches glanced at (that film),” Fisher said. “He did an outstanding job. We got off to a pretty good start and it’s just like anything else – he’s that talented and we knew going in, not that we let our guard down, but we put our defensive players in bad positions and they had the right call and it was an 80-yard touchdown run. He was part of this explosive offense that Norv has.”
During an interview that lasted more than 13 minutes, Fisher repeated the mantra of Turner’s potentially explosive offense. He has the veteran signal-caller in Cassel, the workhorse running back in Peterson, and now Patterson’s emergence has to be even more disconcerting for a head coach like Fisher who has staked his claim in the NFL with defense.
“You have to be concerned with the weapons outside. Those become a concern now as they’re developing,” Fisher said. “Those are solid players that put pressure on you down the field. Cordarrelle had an outstanding rookie year. He’s going to be an outstanding player. He can create the matchups, he’s big, and the one thing about Matt is Matt is going to make good decisions and extend plays. You have to concern yourself with the run game, but that makes you susceptible to the shots and Norv is not afraid to take his shots.”
Fisher said his coaching staff has studied Turner’s offenses in the past as well as the Vikings’ film from this preseason, Turner’s first stint with these players.
But in addition to being explosive, Fisher said one of the hallmarks of a Turner-led offense is their discipline.
After the Vikings finished 2013 season minus-12 in turnover margin, they were second in the preseason under Turner at plus-5. They were second in the league with only 26 penalties in the preseason; the Rams were last with 50 penalties.
“They’re very disciplined,” Fisher said. “… They don’t make mistakes. Norv doesn’t tolerate mistakes. Mistakes before and after the whistle, for example. Rarely do you see false starts, late hits and things that have nothing to do with the play. Generally, they’re just very well-coached.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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