What We Learned: Vikings vs. Browns Storylines

Posted Sep 20, 2013

The week of practice is over and the Vikings are nearly set to host the Cleveland Browns for the 2013 home opener. Here’s what we learned this week about the Vikings as they prepared to face the Bears…



What’s in a Norv Turner offense?
It’s gone a bit under the radar this week, but Norv Turner is the Browns Offensive Coordinator. Turner is a well-respected coach in NFL circles and most current fans know him as the former head coach of the San Diego Chargers. But before his successful run as Chargers Head Coach and now his job in Cleveland, Turner put up some impressive numbers in other NFL stops.

Most notably, Turner was the Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator from 1991-93, when “America’s Team” as they were called then won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1991 and 1992. Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman had a record of 7-18 as a starter before Turner's arrival in Dallas, but was 31-11 in the regular season and 6-0 in the post season.  Overall with Turner as offensive coordinator, the Cowboys record was 42-13 and the club made three playoff appearances, winning a pair of division titles and a pair of conference titles.

Will Turner’s offensive acumen rub off in Cleveland? Only time will tell. But Frazier was asked an interesting question on Friday – he was asked what he thinks of when he hears about a “Norv Turner offense.” Frazier’s response was: “A lot of deep routes, a lot of screens, a lot of play-action, taking shots downfield and a lot of screens in situations where we faced them in the past.”

The Browns offense will be short-handed this week
The starting quarterback was injured and won’t play, and the starting running back was traded. The Vikings won’t have to deal with Brandon Weeden or Trent Richardson, and in their place the Vikings will have to deal with third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer, backup running back Bobby Rainey and the newly-signed from off the street Willis McGahee.


Rhett Ellison won’t play
Vikings fullback/tight end Rhett Ellison was injured early in last week’s game at Chicago, but was able to tough it out and finish the contest. Unfortunately for the Vikings, Ellison didn’t practice this week and won’t play on Sunday.

With fullback Jerome Felton serving the final week of his suspension this week, this could mean more snaps for undrafted rookie free agent Zach Line (pictured) at fullback. Line has seen two very good defenses so far this season in Detroit and Chicago, but this front seven that Cleveland will bring to town may be the best yet. The young fullback will be tested on Sunday.

Kevin Williams will set an impressive record on Sunday
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier mentioned on Friday and the Vikings will acknowledge before the game on Sunday an impressive and important milestone that will be set by Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams this weekend. He will start his 158th career game, passing Alan Page for most career starts by a Vikings defensive tackle and trailing only Jim Marshall (270) and Carl Eller (201) for starts by a defensive lineman.


On a franchise that is known historically for its fierce defensive line play (Purple People Eagers), this is a profound accomplishment for one of the greatest Vikings defensive players in team history. Congratulations to Kevin.

Fast starts don’t guarantee wins
With the Browns down to the third-string quarterback and dealing with the trade that sent the face of their franchise to Indianapolis, some are speculating that the Vikings may see a very unmotivated team show up to play them on Sunday – a team that could go away if the Vikings jump on them early. I am not in the camp, not with the front seven that Cleveland will bring with them.

Frazier is not of that mindset, either. During his post-practice press conference on Friday, Frazier noted that fast starts don’t necessarily equal wins. The Vikings started fast in Detroit with Adrian Peterson’s long touchdown run and in Chicago with Cordarrelle Patterson’s 105-yard kickoff return, but they lost both games.

So while it is important for the Vikings to start quickly against the Browns, it’s important every week to start quickly. And even when you do start quickly, it doesn’t mean you’re going to win. The Vikings need to start quickly and keep playing well throughout the entire game to come away with a victory.