Vikings Offense Coordinator Norv Turner
Q: What have been your impressions of
A: Greg (Jennings) is a pro. He is a hard worker. He obviously has great experience and great understanding. He is in, like the rest of the guys, in the middle of learning a new system and I think that he has done really well with it. I think that he has done especially well since we have started camp the last four days. He has really zeroed in and focused in. He is important in what we do, playing in the slot in the third down and then he is the guy that can move around and create some match-up things with him, so I like what I have seen.
Q: How are you going to be delegating the quarterback reps?
A: I think that you need to talk about those things with Coach Zimmer. I will say this, Coach Zimmer is going to talk about the first team reps if the talk comes up. You can talk to him about that. But we will have these guys ready and they will have an opportunity to be prepared to compete for the job and whoever ends up being the starting quarterback will be ready to play on opening day. I don’t have any concerns about that. To this point, I think that they have all gotten great work and great reps. There are a lot of things that we do in the meetings and walk-throughs that you do not see, so I think that from my standpoint, I am pleased with the four days, the progress they have made and where they are at, and obviously, you cannot work three (quarterbacks) for a long time, so the reps will be getting divided up differently, but in terms of how we do the rest of it is Coach Zimmer’s call and his explanation.
Q: When it comes to the time to make that decision, will there be any hesitancy between choosing a rookie versus a nine-year veteran?
A: I think that Coach Zimmer has made it clear to our team that we are going to play our best guys, the guys that have performed the best and as he said the other day, all of this stuff, I talk to my players all of the time, that all of the stuff that we do in March, April, May, all of the stuff that you do in training camp and preseason is getting you ready to play the regular season games and go win regular season games. I think the preseason games will weigh heavily on Coach’s decision.
Q: Are there any challenges in today’s training camp with more restrictions on practice times and things like that, to get either a rookie or a veteran up to speed with the new system than it was five or six years ago?
A: My take on it, to be honest with you, is that it is easier with this system to get people to know what to do because you get a lot more teaching done, you get a lot more meeting time, you get a lot more walk-through time, but those walk-throughs do not necessarily teach people how to do it. You are teaching them the mental part of what to do. It is assignments and all of that, so you have to make the most of the work you get on the field, like we did on Monday night. I thought that we had a great practice, I thought that we were able to evaluate players and I thought that players had a chance to improve in terms of what they are doing. I think from a quarterback position, getting them up to speed in terms of what to do, the system, the way it is now, is outstanding for that. You just do not get quite as many team reps, so when we are throwing routes against air, when we are throwing balls to the backs, when we are working with the tight ends, we have got to mentally create a game environment for them, so you are simulating the reps that they would get if they were practicing in the morning.
Q: What do you think you are going to refocus on based on what you saw the other night?
A: The problem right now, in terms of what you all see, is that we are working on installations. We have about 10 different installations that we go through the first three weeks. We are working on things. I am sure some of you look out and say, “Whoa, that did not look very good,” well we are evaluating the same thing. As we install stuff, the stuff that we are not really good at, we are not going to use. The stuff that we are good at, we are going to keep working on and get better. Obviously, our goal is to get good at as many things as we can. I think we have made great progress the first four days. We got a new installation today. There are things that these guys have not run since June when they were in camp, so we have to go out and work on getting good at those things. We are evaluating as we go, but we are also installing stuff and getting ready for the season.
Q: You probably will have a better idea with this when they are in pads and during the games, but how does
A: There are certain positions where whether they are in pads or not is not a factor to me. Obviously, the tight ends, the linebackers, the offensive linemen, fullbacks – seeing those guys in full pads helps you evaluate and the receivers and the quarterbacks – it does not make a lot of difference to me if we are in pads or not pads. I have seen all of Teddy’s college films and one of his strengths, and one of the best things we like about him is how he handles pressure. He has been outstanding in all of our work. He does not look at the line, he feels it. He keeps his eyes up the field, he makes throws with people around him, he throws in real tight quarters where he may not have much room to work. That is not a big concern. I think that is one of the best things he does right now.
Q: How has Teddy been in the classroom?
A: He has been outstanding. I think that for any of these guys, it does not matter if they have been here for nine years or it is their first year. You’re putting in a new system, new terminology, and new language. We are grinding on them, they are grinding to learn it. We are trying to simplify some things to make some of the calls easier like we do every year. If you work hard at it, I have been with a lot of different guys who have learned it. So if you work hard at it, you learn it and he has been working really hard at it.
Q: Zimmer had said you had talked yesterday on the off day on how to divvy up the reps, more for some guys fewer for others. What position group is most important for you to see on offense as you change those reps?
A: We talked about it the other day and I just think the offensive line being able to play together and our group that’s probably the best thing we did in Monday night’s practice was the offensive line the way they worked together and they have a good understanding of where their help is, who they need to help, who is coming off on a play, don’t come off too soon and don’t leave your guard all by himself and things like that. As I said Jeff Davidson does an outstanding job with these guys and they have been together, so to me the offensive line being together and then obviously giving some of the young offensive lineman chance to compete and work and find out where they’re at.
Q: What have you seen from
A: Well he started off a little bit behind. He obviously missed all of the May work and early June work, like I said from watching him in college you can see that he is a physical player he’s is athletic, he did a great job at Stanford pulling. This is a little different in terms of the size and the quickness of the guys he is playing against, so he is making that adjustment, but you know, he is a talented young player.
Q: Some of the players were saying you were one of the nicest mean coaches they have ever had, and they love working with you. What has helped you develop your coaching style?
A: I think your personality is what it is. I have been fortunate to be around a lot of coaches and I think there is a big part of this thing that has to be extremely demanding and I would say the guys on offense would tell you they need to be very precise in what they do, but you know it’s a grind, it’s a long deal and you find different ways of creating an atmosphere that guys feel good about and are motivated to work in and we grind on them, but we don’t want to beat them up, we want to encourage them. This is a young group so my thing right now is if you keep doing the same things over and over again and you trust and believe in what we are doing we are going to get better gradually and we are going to keep getting better longer than some people because we have some more ground to cover and when you have young guys that continue to get better longer. I think just my background has probably influenced me the most.
Q: With the offensive line saying they have played together a lot. Is there a negative in that they have been together and they have played in old systems and going back to what they have use to of done?
A: They heard that from me right away. I really am not interested in, and you can ask them on how they’ve done and how they did it and this is how we are doing it. I think there are always similarities. This is a big offensive line so that’s been a bonus for us. I know some people have had different opinions about different people based on a play or based on a couple of plays and I try not to do that, I try to look at the whole body of work, because we are all effected by one play, you know and you watch a game and I’m a fan rooting for a team and a guy misses a block or a guy drops and pass and they say, “Oh that bum,” and then when you are coaching him and you say the guy had 76 plays and he had 72 good ones and four bad ones you know let’s fix the four bad ones, I think some of our guys are better than most people think and I think as a whole offensive group we have a lot of work to do.
Q: The tight end position is a very important piece to your offense. With
A: Well we are working to find out who his backups are going to be. Rhett is a player who has been here and is off to a really good start and I like him a lot, he is versatile, he can do a lot of things. Obviously, you talked about AC and he is a young, raw guy that hasn’t been in this style of offense ever, so he has a lot of ground to cover. He is a guy that flashes so you get encouraged, you get excited by that and beyond that you know Allen (Reisner), and we just signed a young guy Mike (Higgins), he has been here for a few days. I think we have guys that work, but we have a lot of work to do in evaluating these guys. It is disappointing to me that Chase isn’t here,
Q: Can you talk about
A: Well, he is competing and he is fighting to get a spot. He has a lot of work to do too learn how to play receiver, but if he doesn’t make it, it’s not because it’s lack of effort. He is working, he is studying, it’s a big transition to go from quarterback to receiver, but you know I really like the way he has approached it right now.