Norv Turner, his offensive coordinator, took care of that for him when he resigned on Wednesday morning, two days after the Vikings lost their second consecutive game, scoring 10 points in each of those losses.
“I was very, very surprised,” Zimmer said.
“We sat and we had a long conversation. I wasn’t going to make a change and had no indication that this was going on.”
Turner was hired shortly after Zimmer was named the Vikings head coach in January 2014. Since then, the Vikings offense has ranked 27th, 29th and 31st in yards.
Clearly, there have been issues on offense, but the Vikings have also lost QB Teddy Bridgewater, RB Adrian Peterson, LT Matt Kalil and RT Andre Smith since midway through the preseason – all of them ending up on injured reserve.
“I would say that since Norv has been here, I’ve given him almost 100 percent total free will in everything that they’ve done offensively,” Zimmer said. “Obviously, I’ll come in and make suggestions, but there really has never been a time I have demanded anything from there.”
However, Turner told ESPN that he and Zimmer “have different views on where the offense is going.”
Zimmer said Turner never mentioned the word retirement, but players and coaches know the offense has to improve.
“I do think that we hit a rough spot in the season and we need to get back on track. So, unfortunately, this is just some of things that go on over the course of a season,” Zimmer said. “Obviously, the season is a long time and not everything is going to go smooth, as I’ve found out over the three years. So, we’ll just keep trying to do the things we have to do to continue to get better.”
Quarterback Sam Bradford has been sacked 11 times in the last two games and the Vikings are averaging 2.7 yards per rush over the course of the first seven games.
Bradford said he didn’t see Turner’s resignation coming and found out about it from a text from his wife, who found out via a media report, as the quarterback pulled into Winter Park on Wednesday morning.
But Bradford does have experience with Turner’s replacement. Pat Shurmur was instrumental in bringing Bradford to Minnesota following Bridgewater’s season-ending injury. Bradford and Shurmur worked together in Philadelphia and St. Louis.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with Pat. I think he’s a great football mind,” Bradford said. “Really just looking forward to sitting down and talking to him and trying to figure out the direction in which we’re going to go.
“Hopefully it’ll be a positive. Hopefully it’ll be something that the guys will rally around. Obviously, I love Pat. I’m going to support him. I’m going to give him everything that I have. Hopefully the guys will feel the same way.”
The Eagles ranked second, fifth and 12th in yards when Shurmur was the offensive coordinator there. However, when Shurmur was the offensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams in 2009-10, they were 29th and 26th in yards.
“We’ll just have to see how it goes,” Zimmer said. “I do think that it’s hard to do a lot of things different during the season, but we’re all working collectively to try to get our players better. We’re trying to get the scheme better, try to be more efficient offensively.”
Bradford agreed that making big changes during the season would be difficult and said it is more about the execution of the offense rather than the scheme.
Bradford, of course, has endured quite a bit professionally this season. He wanted out of Philadelphia after the Eagles drafted QB Carson Wentz second overall, but the Eagles planned on having Bradford be their starter this season … until he was traded to the Vikings on Sept. 3, eight days before the regular-season opener.
Bradford said this has been “probably the most bizarre” season yet for him.
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He has changed offensive coordinators pretty regularly over his seven-year career, but not at midseason.
“Things can change in a minute in this league. It’s a week-to-week business, it’s a week-to-week league,” he said. “We know that we have to go out there and prove ourselves. You can’t take anything for granted. I think this week we have to get back to what we were doing well earlier in the year and get back on track.”null