Norv Turner declines to elaborate on reasons for “hardest decision” he’s ever made

One day after Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner walked away from his post in a move that his boss described as very surprising, it’s still unclear why Turner called it quits.

Speaking to Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Turner gave a vague and incomplete explanation of his reasons what he called the “hardest decision I’ve ever made.”

“It’s the hardest decision based on a number of circumstances that I’m not going to go into,” Turner told Craig. “A tough day. Tough day. But I got the utmost respect for Mike [Zimmer]. I think he’s as good a coach as I’ve been around. But it just got to the point where I didn’t think it was going to work with me. So I removed myself.”

As Turner said more, it became clear that something he deemed to be dysfunctional was going on within the organization.

“I truly think this move may end up being a positive thing for the Vikings,” Turner said. “I just think they got a chance to get on the same page now. I don’t know how to describe that, but I think it could be the case.”

This clearly implies, from Turner’s perspective, they weren’t on the same page. And they (presumably the coaching staff) may not have been on the same page because Zimmer, not Turner, hired former Browns head coach, Rams offensive coordinator, and Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to coach the tight ends and because, after quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went down, the Vikings made a bold move for Sam Bradford, a Shurmur pupil, instead of sticking with Shaun Hill, a Turner protege.

There’s another important factor to consider when trying to discern the reasons for Norv Turner’s abrupt departure: His son, Scott, is the team’s quarterbacks coach.

So if Norv sensed that the offense was on a track that was going to result in everyone getting fired after the season, Norv’s decision to step aside now may be, in his mind, the spark that helps everyone save their jobs. Regardless of whether Norv’s assessment of the situation was accurate (and he’s been around long enough to know which way the wind is blowing), Norv seems to genuinely believe the offense may be better without him, and the presence of his son on the offensive coaching staff gave Norv extra incentive to be selfless.

If there’s any merit to this theory/hypothesis/whatever, it’s another example of the pitfalls of nepotism among coaches. Owners apparently allow it because they routinely involve their own offspring in the business. But there’s a fundamental difference between the people who run the business grooming the people who will eventually inherit it and the employees of ownership hiring family members.

Given the presence of Norv’s son in such a key role on the offensive coaching staff, it would be foolish to assume that this dynamic had no role in the deliberations that resulted in Norv walking away. In the end, there’s a chance it was the deciding factor.

60 responses to “Norv Turner declines to elaborate on reasons for “hardest decision” he’s ever made

  1. What, Bradford gets another coach fired*? No, not him. Its not Bradford’s fault. He just needs better WRs, a better RB, better O-Line play, a perfect passing pocket, no wind gusts, long and wider sleeves, and approximately only 1,000 lux of sunlight illuminance.

  2. EX Browns HC.. Thats all you need to know about Pat Shurmur… But hey then again maybe not even Belicheat could help Cleveland.

  3. Honestly I can’t believe it took this long. His play calls have been “vanilla” for as long as I can remember. Was great when he was with the Chargers but to me it seems he got in a comfort zone and never adapted to anything new.

  4. Sorry, but Norv didn’t resign because he wanted to save his son’s job. Scott is a grown man who has a solid coaching resume. He can stand on his own two feet.

    I believe that Norv intended to leave at the end of the year – which is why Zimmer brought in Shumur as his eventual replacement rather than have him sign elsewhere and be unavailable – but after Bridgewater went down, things didn’t go so well.

    Norv had to lean on Shumur to help ease in Bradford, and there was initial success. But when Norv started introducing more of his own playbook, the offense became derailed. It was plain to see the past couple of games that the Vikings had moved away from the quick fired three step drop offense and back to the offense Turner favoured the past couple of years. This allowed for the weaknesses of the offensive line to become more exposed, whereas the earlier offensive style had covered most of that up.

    Norv is a legend, and had injuries gone a different way then he could have gone through this season and left the team at the end of the year with pride. However, he realised that with a poor offensive lin and with Bradford at QB, he needed to step aside and allow Shumur more scope. Another guy would have simply taken a back seat a rode out the season in an undisclosed lesser capacity, but Norv was man enough to say that if the team needs to go in a different direction, then he won’t stand in the way.

    I hope Norv has pride in the way he developed Teddy, and in everything he did to support Zimmer. I wish him well in whatever he chooses to do next!

  5. ……..I think Norv is’nt going to be the fall guy for the Bradford trade…… out now and will have his agent start shopping him for a 2017 head coaching job. Jags & Bills are in the market………

  6. This could also be Norv saying “I don’t think my offense is right for the personnel they have.”

    We’ll see where this goes. Could be an uplifting spark… could be the final nail in the dynastic coffin. meanwhile, in Detroit…

  7. What a piece of dirt…Is there any organization he’s been a part of and didn’t screw them over?

  8. Mike Zimmer has the reputation of being extremely petulant, moody and at times difficult to work for.
    My guess is that Zim went totally berserk (again) after the loss to Chicago and Norv decided that he didn’t have to or want to put up with it and pulled the plug, in spite of many years of genuine friendship.

  9. Is this Spielman related? Could it be personality conflicts between Sparano and Shurmur both east coast guys, Turner is a California guy. Too many cooks in kitchen? Tread well was Norvs guy as well and he’s not played a down for a bad we corps

  10. Shahid Kahn: Mr. Turner, how would you like to be a HC again?
    Norv: That’s my goal next season.
    Kahn: How about now?
    Turner: Hell yeah, I’ll tank this game against The Bears and resign.

  11. First, is PFT going to make any attempt to find out if Shurmur was calling plays or more heavily involved in the offense prior to the bye week? That is what reporters should be focusing on. Everything else is moot. The last two weeks have stunk of Norv’s playcalling and it’s obvious something within the offense changed during the bye.

    Second, if Norv is the one who realized Shurmur and his offense is better suited for the Vikings then I applaud him stepping down. Zimmer not firing Turner yet has been the only head scratcher move by Zimmer since Zimmer was hired. It was long overdue. Norv spent almost 3 years trying to jam square pegs in round holes. He showed very sporadic willingness and ability to design an offense around the Vikings strengths. He actually catered to their weaknesses.

  12. My theory is that Norv realizes what everybody, outside the Viking fans, already knows. That Sam Bradford was a panic trade, they have no answers for the offensive line and he was either going to be fired before or after this season ended as the scapegoat for a slew of front office mistakes so he got out while the getting was good.

  13. Looks like Vike fans got what they wanted. Will be interesting to see how it works out.

  14. I’m not sure Scott was the reason for Norv’s departure. After all, once Shurmur takes over, who has more time working with Bradford than Scott Turner, it may make his services redundant.

  15. Or after losing both offensive tackles he told them to trade for Staley or Joe Thomas, and they didn’t do it. He knew without a LT that Bradford was going to get destroyed, and he didn’t want to be a part of that.

  16. Norv thanked or spoke highly of everyone within the organization, except Spielman. Unless I missed it, Spielman was never mentioned by Norv. Norv’s play calling has been subpar since he got to Minnesota. It wouldn’t be surprising if Spielman let him hear about it.

  17. In the 2 1/2 years as our offensive coordinator, the Vikes have ranked 27th, 29th, and 31st, respectively. Norv has been given the benefit of the doubt and has been coasting more on reputation than performance. Any other coach would have been let go after last year. I can’t help but think this has to be a good thing in the long run. Definitely a win in Detroit since they won’t have film on what we’re going to bring. In the weeks to come? Here’s hoping…

  18. “Norv” likes to play the martyr-card, LOL. Wouldn’t be the first time either, as he’s done it many times in the past when he got fired for his ineptitude as a HC/OC.

  19. Jon Gruden on MNF: “When your defense plans for a Norv Turner offense, you’ve got to be ready for anything.”

    Gruden blows another one. Norv is so out of date that he had to walk away before he got fired.

  20. sucks to be Norv turner, you lose 3 to 5 superstars on your offense, most teams seasons would be over with all the loses of personal…and still your team goes 5-2 and you get the axe? something don’t seem right. rumor has it turner n son not on same page with Sam Bradford. it got heated between Shurmer and Norv and pushing and shoving happened.. apparently Norvs son got in the middle stopping it.

  21. keepcalmandskolon says:
    Nov 3, 2016 9:23 AM
    In the 2 1/2 years as our offensive coordinator, the Vikes have ranked 27th, 29th, and 31st, respectively. Norv has been given the benefit of the doubt and has been coasting more on reputation than performance. Any other coach would have been let go after last year. I can’t help but think this has to be a good thing in the long run. Definitely a win in Detroit since they won’t have film on what we’re going to bring. In the weeks to come? Here’s hoping…

    Which is why the whole “he was great at developing Teddy” back handed compliment perplexes me.

    You’re bottom 5 for offense every year – that’s not development of any sort. I mean there’s literally no floor to get down to, you’re already there so what developed?

    I know fans were/are high on Teddy – great guy, possibly a decent future but look at that rank, look at his production in the playoff loss – that’s not some great development. Norv didn’t turn Joey Harrington into Tom Brady.

    He really didn’t do anything.

  22. I respect Turner’s decision to step down, and I think he’s right; the results will likely prove this out.

    While I thought Turner did a decent job over the years, he seemed to suffer from tunnel vision. One area that I think hurt him and the offense was his refusal to make more use of certain players on offense, especially Patterson, but also Wright, McKinnon and Rudolph. More variety of play-calling, especially on first down would have helped make this a more potent offense.

    The play-calling the last two games was inexplicably horrible, especially considering how poorly the OL was pass-blocking. When you make a blockbuster trade for your QB, you can’t keep calling plays that have proven to get him hit over and over again. A west coast offense approach at this point seems the most viable option.

    I wish Turner the best where ever he ends up.

  23. It’s simple. He was an offensive coordinator who couldn’t adapt to the limitations of his players. He was stuck calling plays like he did when he had a great offensive line. For whatever reason, he would not change his play calling even after watching it fail. Watch the Chicago game for examples. The bad Vikes line can’t run block, yet Norv continued to attempt to run, time after time. Seemed like his mind set was to just keep trying it over and over, in the hopes that sooner or later it would work. His offense was so predictable the defense knew the call before the Vikings broke the huddle.

    It was time for him to move on, hopefully to retire and rest on his considerable accomplishments of the past. The game has passed him by.

  24. When Browns owner Jimmy “Homeless guy” Haslam fired Chudzinski after just one year, he had a meeting with the team and still employed coaches. Norv spoke up and said it was a bullsh*t move, knowing it would cost him his OC job. So if he had something to say about the situation in Minny, I doubt he’d hold back.

  25. The comment about “being on the same page” concerns me. It smacks of dissention within the team and that always spells disaster. I agree that something must have happened over the bye. It seems likely that if you assemble a bunch of former head coaches, each one of them might think they could do it better. When these thoughts start coming out as words, things fall apart.

  26. I have a lot of respect for Norv and he was instrumental in the drafting of Teddy Bridgewater (although now you have to wonder what would have happened with Derek Carr), but the fact is that Norv has been 100% in charge of the offense since he got here and the offense has been terrible the entire time. Yeah, there are a lot of injuries this year but I don’t see anything different from what we saw the previous two years. We’ve been complaining about Cordarrelle Patterson for the last two years, but he was really good his rookie year and the downturn started when Norv got here. I wish him the best and I appreciate the guts it takes to step down, but I’m looking forward to seeing what someone else can do.

  27. Not only do the Vikings not have the personnel to run Norv’s system, but his system is outdated. His system is based on a strong running game to set up play action so you can throw the ball down field. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, that worked. But nowadays, you have DE’s that can run 4.5-4.6, are quick, strong, and very athletic and don’t bite on the play action. So with bad offensive tackles, there is no way you can consistently have your QB take 7-step drops without getting hit.

    What surprises me most about this whole ordeal, is that Norv seems like he was just too stubborn to change his ways and adapt more to the West Coast system. And I think he’s been unsuccessful in his last couple of jobs because of this stubbornness.

  28. I know fans were/are high on Teddy – great guy, possibly a decent future but look at that rank, look at his production in the playoff loss – that’s not some great development. Norv didn’t turn Joey Harrington into Tom Brady.

    Not really something you can look at the numbers for. The Vikings were run first, run second, run third, pass if absolutely necessary under Norv. No QB is going to put up stellar numbers in that type of offense. It’s amazing Teddy has been able to do what he’s done, in my opinion, when the defense knows when he’s going to throw 80% of the time.

    I’ve always thought Teddy was held back by Norv. Norv’s playcalling was always predictable and vanilla. Norv could never figure out how to mix AP and Teddy and the whole under center/shotgun debacle (another dead giveaway for defenses). I could go on for days. But the short answer is, Norv rarely put anyone in a position to succeed. He was dead set on his “system” and forcing players into it without evaluating their strengths and weaknesses and how to best use them.

    If you look around the league, the great coaches are the ones who build and adapt their systems around their players.

  29. Agree that the offense will be better without Norv. He was being too stubborn with his system. Vikings haven’t had the type of o-line needed to run Norv’s system since he’s been here and he was unwilling to adapt. It was plain as day in the last two games. 5&7 step drops with play-action doesn’t work when your o-line can hold up for maybe 3 seconds.

  30. bigbroncomama says:
    Nov 3, 2016 10:30 AM

    Basically, Nov quit because he couldn’t work with Zimmer, a notorious control freak that ignores the input of his assistant coaches. Good luck with that.

    The notorious control freak gave Norv 100% control of the offense for 2.5 years.

  31. HOW does a kid ” scott turner ” become a QB coach ? He never played qb after high school , so he knows nothing about college qb’s , or nfl qb’s . i’d rather have a former NFL QB as my qb coach than someone who gets the job “cause his dad is famous “.
    So Norv did you really step aside to save your sons job ? think you opened the door to have your son CANNED when the season ends

  32. If the Vikings offense consists of quick slants, and playing out of the shotgun 95% of plays, Norv lost his OC duties to Pat.

    I there’s a lack of 7 step drops (lets hope), he lost his OC duties to Pat.

    I’m convinced Pat was calling the plays week 2-6 because Bradford and Pat were familiar with each other.

    Zim figures by week 7 Bradford should have Norvs offense figured out and gives Norv back his duties. Offense totally melts down two weeks in a row under Norv.

    Zim gives Pat back the play calling for week 9 against the Lions and possibly the rest of the season, Norv gets upset, and resigns.

  33. I almost bet you, that Bradford and Turner didnt match together well. Or Shurmur was undermining Turner. Because Bradford now has the OC he has the from Rams and also Jake Long the left tackle the from Rams.
    Zimmer needs to wake up and keep a very close eye on Shurmur, because he could end up like Wade Phillips did and how Jason Garrett became Head Coach.
    I still believe that Jason Garrett purposely had the offense do bad, Phillips got blamed and fired. and Jason Garrett becomes HC.
    Zimmer needs to wake up or it could happen to him.

  34. Hard decision? I bet.

    Correct decision? Yes.

    Offensive resurgence? TBD, but my suspicion is yes.

  35. Just in the fact that Norv is gone- I am so excited for Sunday.

    There won’t be a huge change in just a few days, but things are looking up for this offense, finally.

  36. I watched Zimmer’s press conference. He said Turner had 100% control of the offense since he’s been here. Also said he called 100% of the plays (with input from others). I was surprised to hear Zimmer say that, I didn’t realize he was so hands off on the offensive side of the ball. I knew he was a defensive coordinator for so long, but anyway, was surprising. Combine that with Turner’s statements and it sounds like either Turner felt his system wouldn’t/couldn’t work due to personnel or there were major disagreements (with Spielman, Shurmur, or others, probably not Zimmer based on what he said). Would be nice if we could find out more. Nevertheless, whatever he was doing wasn’t working so let’s hope something does.

  37. reppster says:
    Nov 3, 2016 8:17 AM

    Was great when he was with the Chargers…

    No, he really wasn’t.

  38. Although Zimmer said Turner had 100% control of the offense, I’m guessing he was still under pressure to have a very conservative approach since the defense is so good (ignore the Bears game).

    Really, if your plan is to let the defense win games, you need a game manager quarterback, conservative yet effective play-calling (why call high-risk/reward plays if the chance for a turnover goes up?), and that should be enough for wins. Bradford played out of his mind weeks 2-5, but hey, maybe the more time teams have to watch tape of Bradford playing for the Vikings, the easier it is to shut him down. Combine that with Bradford coming to the Vikings right before the start of the season, and it sort of explains some of the recent struggles. Turner wanted to mix it up more, Zimmer said rely on the defense…?

    We know Turner loves to mix it up, but if you’ve watched Vikings games, that’s the opposite of what was going on with the offense. Or maybe he was trying to mix it up, but as Bradford said yesterday, the issue with the offense was execution and not scheme. Could have been just Bradford trying to be nice.

    If the Vikings were running flea flickers every game which resulted in interceptions, people would be saying ‘wtf are you doing? play it safe on offense and let the defense win the game!’ Who knows. Thanks to Norv’s vague answers to Mark Craig, we get to speculate. If the Vikings offense plays well on Sunday, I think we’ll be able to judge from Zimmer and Bradford’s press conferences how they really feel about Shurmur being the new offensive coordinator, and if Zimmer really did hire him earlier this year to eventually take over that position.

  39. If you read between the lines, old Norv is saying;
    Our offensive line couldn’t block Alcorn State’s pass rush. We can’t run the ball and we traded the farm for a QB that is getting killed back there and probably won’t last to the playoffs. That is assuming we make the playoffs. The league has figured out this defense and even the Bears looked like an offensive juggernaut against them. Quit while the quitting is good, Norv. First rat off this sinking ship. Green Bay wins the division if they get some healthy bodies back and vikings fight the lions for second place.

  40. Well… if you’ve got a first round pick in Trea Waynes from 2 drafts ago sitting on the bench, and a first and second round pick from last years drat in Treadwell and Mackensie Alexander sitting on the bench and the third round pick traded away for a future pick – while you cant even field a healthy O-Line, coming to the conclusion it’s not going to work for you is understandable. But Zim’s a defensive hero – c’mon man.

  41. well… that the Cubs no longer have the longest championship drought in sports history….here’s hoping the queenies break their record…..LOL!!!!

  42. 5-2 and ready to start the winning ways again.
    The D will be great again because the O can now score again.
    Let’s Rock n’ SKOL !!!

  43. Never understood the high praise commentators constantly gave Norv. He really did nothing to warrant praise. He may have been the most over rated coach the NFL has seen. His team always under-performed their talent. What was the saying a great coach could squeeze out 2-3 victories a year from his roster. Norv was always one that would squeeze out 2-3 additional losses from his roster.

  44. AS a Philadelphia fa, good luck with Bradford because in the long run he’s not worth it. He’s most familiar with Shurmur from several previous engagements (including Philadelphia) so it is quite likely that Turner resigned because it wasn’t blending with him. I happen to like Norv Turner. Think he’s kind of like Joe Buck – gets a bit of an unfair rap.

    I can’t blame Turner for leaving because he didn’t have the players conducive to his system. But, like Wade Phillips, he’ll not be wanting for a job – if he wants one.

    Strange fascination by Minnesota with the remnants of the Andy Reid Philadelphia era in terms of coaches. Not exactly the most successful coaching tree.

  45. Norv–a good man stuck on a sinking ship and he headed for the lifeboats. Vikings are about to lose every game remaining this season and end up with the #1 pick in the 2017 NFL draft. They will then draft Mitch Leidner as their new savior.

  46. Filthy welcome back.
    You really been hiding this season.
    Are you sure it’s safe (Packer-wise) to come out of Mom’s basement?

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