Vikings head coach plans to utilize different offense

Published 4:13am Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Column: Notes from Nashville, by Andrew Dyrdal

Vikings fans greeted new coach Mike Zimmer with plenty of enthusiasm.

The first-time head coach already flattered us by speaking kindly of our lakes, woods and wide-open spaces and said he can’t wait to raise his family around so many nice people. But he’s wooed us with more than just nice words. Zimmer has also been a very successful assistant in the NFL, consistently producing some of the top defenses in the league wherever he’s been, which is something the Vikings desperately need.

No wonder we’re so enamored.

But Vikings fans should be more excited about the staff Zimmer has put together, especially incoming offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

Turner spent last year as the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator after being head coach of the San Diego Chargers from 2007 to 2012. During his first five years in San Diego, his Chargers finished in the top five in points scored, including second in 2008 and 2010.

The Vikings’ roster is already built for Turner’s system, which abandons the West Coast offense style popular with coaches Brad Childress and recently fired coordinator Bill Musgrave, for one that relies on deep passes and a power running game. The West Coast offense centers around short, horizontal passes and less running.

One major benefactor of Turner’s hire will be rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. The 6-foot-3-inch speedy receiver is the perfect fit to stretch the field and win jump ball situations. He’ll continue to add a dimension as a lethal kick returner and runner out of the backfield.

Turner’s high-octane offenses also rely on a versatile running back who can run inside and outside the tackles. Turner’s running back in San Diego was LaDainian Tomlinson, who won a rushing title under the coach in 2007. Tomlinson also caught passes out of the backfield and finished his career with 624 receptions. To put that in perspective, Vikings receiver Greg Jennings has 445 career receptions.

Peterson may never turn into an elite receiving option but will likely have more catches under Turner than he has at any other time in his career.

Minnesota had one of the top offensive lines a few years ago before struggling in 2013. Turner will require the offensive line to regain its 2012 form in order to be productive on offense.

With young, talented linemen like Matt Kalil, Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan, the Vikings front five should provide good protection for their quarterback while blocking for their superstar.

Andrew Dyrdal’s column appears in the Tribune each Tuesday.