With the Minnesota Vikings struggling after being decimated by injuries, Norv Turner resigned as the team’s offensive coordinator Wednesday in a move that stunned Coach Mike Zimmer.
“He’s been my right-hand man,” Zimmer said, choking up as he addressed reporters. “… I was very surprised.”
Turner’s decision wasn’t the only surprise of the day. Zimmer, who spent Tuesday having what the team called a minor medical procedure, was sporting dark sunglasses. Zimmer reported that he had had surgery to repair a torn retina.
Turner, 64, was in his third season with the Vikings and has been a head coach in Washington, Oakland and San Diego. Turner has long been respected for the success he has had developing quarterbacks like Troy Aikman, but the Vikings lost Teddy Bridgewater in the preseason and the team called an audible, trading for Sam Bradford. In addition, the Vikings lost running back Adrian Peterson to the injured reserve list with a knee injury in September. There is no timetable for his return.
“I have tremendous respect for Mike Zimmer, our coaching staff and our players and at this time I think it is in the best interest of the team to step down,” Turner said in a statement released by the team. “I thank the Wilf family for my time here in Minnesota and want to see our players and coaches achieve success.”
Meanwhile, the Vikings have lost two consecutive games after a 5-0 start and the latest disappointment came Monday night in a loss to the Chicago Bears. With an offensive line that has been stung by injuries — notably to Matt Kalil and Andre Smith — there weren’t many options left for Turner — other than walking away.
Norv Turner wanted no part of that Vikings offensive line…and quite frankly, who could blame him.
— Ryan Field (@RyanFieldABC) November 2, 2016
• Punted on half their drives this season, the highest rate in the NFL.
• 4th-worst efficiency this season per NFL FPI.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) November 2, 2016
No doubt in part due to absence of Teddy/Adrian, but Vikings are only team in NFL without a 300-yard passer or 100-yard rusher this season.
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) November 2, 2016
Pat Shurmur, who had pushed for the Bradford trade, will replace Turner.
“I think it’s just we have different views on where the offense was going,” Turner told ESPN’s Ed Werder.