Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner has tendered his resignation, the team announced Wednesday. It’s an unexpected move for Turner, who released a statement shortly after the announcement.
“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. “I thank the Wilf family for my time here in Minnesota and want to see our players and coaches achieve success.”
The Vikings also confirmed that tight ends coach Pat Shurmur will serve as the interim offensive coordinator.
After starting the season 5-0, Minnesota is coming off two consecutive losses that can be pinned mostly on the Vikings’ stagnant offense. The Vikings are 31st in the NFL in total offense, averaging 293.3 yards per game. Minnesota’s 19.9 points per game places them 23rd in the league.
When Zimmer was hired as the head coach in 2014, he brought Turner on board as the offensive coordinator. Zimmer publicly criticized the offensive line after the team’s first loss.
“We didn’t block anybody,” Zimmer said. “We were soft. We got overpowered.”
Yet Zimmer said he was “very, very surprised” when Turner decided to resign.
“He's been my right-hand man since I’ve been here,” Zimmer said.
The Vikings have been decimated by injury on offense, a primary reason for their struggles to move the ball. Minnesota lost quarterback Teddy Bridgewater prior to the season when he went down with a gruesome knee injury during practice.
Star running back Adrian Peterson suffered a torn meniscus in Week 2 that required surgical repair, and the Vikings have lost both starting tackles this season. Matt Kalil was placed on injured reserve with a hip injury after Week 2, and Andre Smith left Monday’s game against the Chicago Bears with an elbow injury. Guard Alex Boone has also missed time with a hip injury, but returned Monday.
The offensive line in particular has been a problem. Quarterback Sam Bradford has 1,442 passing yards, eight touchdowns, and one interception. Bradford has been sacked 19 times over seven games this season, and he has fumbled the ball five times.
Shurmur has experience with Bradford, having served as his offensive coordinator in 2010 with the St. Louis Rams. Shurmur was Bradford’s offensive coordinator last season with the Philadelphia Eagles, too, and then stepped in as interim head coach when Chip Kelly was fired.
Turner began his coaching career as a graduate assistant with Oregon and was in his 32nd season as a coach in the NFL. He stepped into his first offensive coordinator role with the Dallas Cowboys in 1991, and has had stints as the head coach in Washington, with the Oakland Raiders, and the San Diego Chargers.