The End of the Norv Turner Offense?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings as a team are a smash mouth offense complemented by the consistent excellence of a top five scoring defense in 2015. After netting a playoff berth and being a kick away from beating the former NFC champions, the Seattle Seahawks, the Vikings took a huge step in 2015. Despite this step, there were often too few signs of life in the offense outside of the rushing champion, Adrian Peterson. This is due to the poor fit between the Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner and rising second year Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

This friction between scheme and player is most apparent in passer rating. While this is generally an outdated statistic, it does back up the fact that operating out of the shotgun, he functions better, more than 30 points better. This cavernous disparity combined with the amount of times the supposedly weak armed Quarterback was tasked with throwing downfield to receivers that could not contend. Many people in the national media concluding – incorrect or not, that Teddy regressed last year. The Vikings’ front office are seeking to change that. The addition of LaQuon Treadwell, standout Ole Miss receiver is the most tangible impact. Having an outside receiver who is able to battle for every ball and attack it with the requisite aggression unlike others, Charles Johnson is a poignant example of this, is a huge addition to the offense. The addition of weapons must come with the intention of using them in the correct way. Sending LaQuon on a nine route with the idea of him snagging a ball sixty yards downfield and then accelerating away from a corner is frankly ridiculous. Now these additions have been brought in they have to be used in the right way. The best way to do this would be by using Teddy’s new best friend as a short and intermediate possession receiver and as a force in the red zone. Possibly the worst way would be in the downfield way that Norv likes to use his receivers showing the poor fit between weapons and Coordinator.

In addition to LaQuon, the Vikings have also brought in talent on the offensive line, notably being Andre Smith, Alex Boone and Willie Beavers (joking about the last one). These two standouts have made a consistent impact on the success of their previous lines, but these, like the rest of the Vikings’ starters are best at run blocking. This means that the seven step drops and play calls of the offense are making them try and pass protect for too long. This puts the average pass blocking offensive line, which ranked 16th is in pass pro according to Pro Football Focus, at a competitive disadvantage because they don’t have the skill to execute this. The offensive line cannot cope with the stresses of the system that Norv Turner is implementing.

The Vikings also have some former Head Coaches coming to the offense to try and bolster the Tight End and Offensive Line positions, but these coaches, Tony Sparano and Pat Shurmur both ran west coast schemes as head coaches. With this addition of an offense that would spread the field and allow Teddy to work best on those "mediocre passes," according to Adrian Peterson. Future Hall of Fame Running Back’s vocabulary aside, Teddy functions best in a passing range of ten to twenty yards and is very good at that. Too bad that Norv does not use his Quarterback at what he is best at, right? The additions of Shurmur and Sparano give the Vikings something that they should have brought in a long time ago, West Coast principles. The Vikings have the perfect RB, and he sat on the bench for most of the year before starring in two minute drills and limited reps. Jerick McKinnon is a weapon who can be lined up in the slot, can take the ball inside and outside the tackles, has a rudimentary knowledge of blitz pickup, which despite entering his tenth season Adrian still doesn’t know what that is. He also runs routes better than pretty much every other back in the league. This extra experience combined with the fact that he’s now going into his last season means that Norv Turner, despite all the great work he has done for the club should be on his way out. Norv has done some really important and successful things with the offense. That said, with the players that the Vikings have and the direction that Teddy needs to take as a player, who could be a master of the short and intermediate passes, he needs to do what he is best at.

Ultimately, Norv Turner is a good coach and he has done some impressive things for the Vikings however to progress as an offense and as a team, he needs to adapt or be succeeded. The Vikings have finally given Teddy some protection and someone who can really accentuate his strengths but to use him effectively there needs to be a shift in scheme. There is a very good chance that with the right steps the Vikings can make a run at the Super Bowl with a strong defense and a passing game that caters to the strengths of a promising young Quarterback, but is Norv Turner really the right man to be leading the helm?

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