In hindsight, perhaps Norv Turner’s resignation isn’t all that surprising. In fact, when Pat Shurmur and Sam Bradford came on board, Turner may have seen the writing on the wall.
“Shurmur was Bradford’s offensive coordinator in Philadelphia last year and in St. Louis after he was drafted,” St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Brian Murphy said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “It’s a little bit of a complicated web here. But (Mike) Zimmer, when he (arrived) in 2014, obviously (he’s) a defensive mastermind. (But he) came in and inherited an offense and wanted to bring in a coordinator that had credibility and that could sort of handle it while he retooled the defense into his image. Norv came in. He basically had free reign over the offense. They drafted Teddy Bridgewater so he had a franchise quarterback to develop. Mixed results, but they had a tight end in Kyle Rudolph that could be productive.”
The offense, however, has been decimated by injuries this season. Instead of Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson, the Vikings have had to rely on Bradford, Matt Asiata and others. The skill-position talent isn’t great, and the line is borderline atrocious.
“Things really came to a head last year,” Murphy said. “The protection issues that are rearing their head now were on display last year as well, so Zimmer fired the offensive line coach he had and brings in Tony Sparano to toughen up that unit. So now you’ve got three former head coach in Turner, Shurmur and Sparano. Shurmur was brought in to coach tight ends, but everyone knew this was sort of a way for Zimmer to hedge his bets. If the offense didn’t develop like he wanted, he had some more options and some more voices in that room. Certainly when Bradford came in, there was a lot of elements that Shurmur brought in that were more of the West Coast, quick drops, quick strikes that allowed Bradford to evade the rush early on and win his first four starts as the Vikings went 5-0. Protection issues were still there, but they were able to side-step them.
“In the last couple of weeks in some road losses to Chicago and Philadelphia, I think Turner was asserting himself a little bit more, going back to his more traditional deep drops, trying to get the ball downfield more – and it’s been a disaster,” Murphy continued. “It came to a head where I think Shurmur’s influence and Zimmer’s desire to kind of steer the offense more toward that, it was a clash of styles and philosophies. Norv Turner, who’s 64 years old, I think he saw a situation where they weren’t going to do things his way anymore, and he wanted out.”