By: Will Burchfield
Minnesota Vikings’ head coach Mike Zimmer sounded weary in his conference call with local reporters on Wednesday. It’s been a season of unexpected setbacks for the Vikings, the latest coming Wednesday morning when offensive coordinator Norv Turner announced his resignation out of the blue.
“I was very surprised,” Zimmer said quietly. “As far as the impact – a lot of things this year and this season – we’re going to get prepared like we always do and move forward.”
It wasn’t a defeatist message from Minnesota’s head coach, but it was hard to miss the dismay in his voice. The Vikings lost their starting quarterback when Teddy Bridgewater tore his ACL in August. Then they lost their best player when Adrian Peterson tore his meniscus in Week 2.
And now, with no prior warning, they’ve lost their offensive coordinator.
Zimmer said there was nothing to suggest that Turner planned to resign, before adding Turner’s decision was due to personal reasons.
“And I’ll keep them between me and him,” Zimmer said.
The Vikings have promoted tight ends coach Pat Shurmer to interim offensive coordinator. He’ll make his debut in that role on Sunday when the Vikings host the Lions.
On Detroit’s side of things, expectations haven’t really changed.
“You don’t anticipate any real wholesale changes in a short period of time, so it’ll probably be close to the same things they’ve been doing,” Jim Caldwell said of Minnesota’s offense.
Zimmer confirmed that to be true.
“I don’t know that it will change very much,” he said. “It’s hard to change in one day. Right now, we’re just trying to get everybody on the same page and go from there. We just want to continue to move forward and try to get better. Everybody is trying to help one another, and we’re trying to get there offensively, that’s all.”
Despite sitting in first place in the NFC North, the Vikings (5-2) have struggled on offense. They are ranked second-to-last in the NFL with 293.3 yards per game and tied for 23rd with 19.9 points per game. Turner’s resignation comes on the heels of two straight losses in which the Vikings were held to ten points.
“Just as a player, you know, I think that this kind of sends out the message that we’ve got to get things back on track,” said safety Harrison Smith. “We started out strong and then the last couple weeks haven’t delivered and so it’s time to get things right.”
Caldwell said the Lions won’t alter their preparations for Sunday’s game based on the Vikings’ coaching change.
“I mean, you know they’re going to be some things you probably didn’t anticipate, maybe they haven’t shown something different. Maybe there’s something that Coach Shurmur likes that they want to see a little bit more of and if that’s indeed the case, we just have to use our fundamentals and schematics to read our keys and do the things we normally do.”
Safety Glover Quin echoed his coach.
“We’re going to do what we do, it doesn’t affect us, it doesn’t affect our preparation. As long as we worry about us and play our defense, play the techniques that we’ve been working on, read our keys the way we’ve been reading them, it doesn’t matter. We don’t have time to get caught up in what’s going on and what (the Vikings) could and couldn’t do.”
That’s for Zimmer to worry about – once more, he’ll have to come up with answers.