By Nick Shook
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Scott Turner has his father to thank for a considerable influence on his career path. But when Norv Turner decided to resign his position as Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator, he didn’t give his son much of an advance warning.
The younger Turner said his father informed him of his decision just moments before telling head coach Mike Zimmer it was time for the two to part ways on Nov. 2, in the wake of back-to-back losses.
“I knew that he was dealing with some issues, or whatever,” Scott Turner said Friday, via the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I thought that it was a possibility. I didn’t ever think he was actually going to do it, and then he told me about one minute before he told (Minnesota coach Mike) Zimmer.
“I didn’t think he was, and he said he was going to. And I said (to myself), ‘Hey, he’s got to do whatever he thinks is right.’ I gave him a hug and then he went in there and he did it.”
Scott Turner remains on staff as quarterbacks coach, despite the absence of his father. Norv has decades of coaching experience, but at 64 years old, faces an uncertain future. It isn’t awkward, the younger Turner claims, to continue working in the building his father chose to depart in the middle of the season. But the timing was a bit unusual, especially for someone as renowned as Turner is as a playcaller.
“He felt like it was something that was the right decision for him at the time,” Scott Turner said of his father. “I don’t know, I just feel like, to me, he just felt it wasn’t going the right direction and he felt like the best thing for him to do was to move on.”
Turner’s resume includes leading a startling turnaround of the Dallas Cowboys‘ offense in the early 1990s as they won two straight Super Bowls, but Minnesota’s offense ranks dead last in yards per game through eight contests. Much of that can be chalked up to a number of factors: losing star running back Adrian Peterson to injury, acclimating Sam Bradford to the offense in less than two weeks after trading for the quarterback, and perhaps most importantly, Minnesota’s obvious issues on the offensive line. The team has lost both starting tackles, cannot run block well and also struggles to protect Bradford, resulting in limited offensive firepower and a heavy reliance on the defense.
When things aren’t going in the right direction in the view of a coach who calls the plays, it usually results in drastic change or a divorce. Perhaps there was a difference in opinion of what would fix Minnesota’s offensive issues, or perhaps the elder Turner saw the writing on the wall and decided to jump ship while he was ahead.
The Vikings didn’t see much of an improvement in the first week without Turner, scoring just 16 points against Detroit’s 20th-ranked defense in an overtime loss, though Bradford did complete 31 of 40 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown. The team still can’t run the ball with any effectiveness. We’ll see if, after losing their third straight contest, Minnesota can improve against Washington, in a game Scott Turner was looking forward to coaching alongside his father.