EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Since he learned the Air Coryell offense from Ernie Zampese as a wide receivers coach with the Los Angeles Rams in the late 1980s, Norv Turner hasn't had to change the tenets of his offensive philosophy much. He has run a version of that offense practically everywhere he's been since then, and he's had enough success -- two Super Bowl rings as the Dallas Cowboys' offensive coordinator and 10 offenses among the league's top-10 scoring attacks in 23 years as a head coach or coordinator -- that he's had little trouble making the case his ideas work.
But Turner has also faced the charge that his scheme is predictable at various points over the years, and with new ideas catching on in the NFL over the past few seasons -- in the form of more wide-open offenses and complex defenses that are harder to diagnose -- Turner said he spent some time this offseason looking for ways to tweak the scheme he planned to install with the Minnesota Vikings.
"There's a big part of this offense that's been the same, is sound and is always going to be the same," Turner said. "There's guys who played in this offense 30, 20, 10 years ago that would recognize it. What we've tried to do with our offensive staff is, we looked at people that are having success offensively and modernized this offense a little bit, updated it a little bit. We said early that we're going to get ourselves out of our comfort zone."
We'll get a better idea during training camp about whether Turner's offense will have some different wrinkles -- I certainly wouldn't expect the Vikings to start running read-option plays -- but two things he mentioned on Wednesday were a desire to spread the field a little more often and using a no-huddle offense, which would represent a change from the way Turner has operated in the past. The Vikings have also been working with some packaged plays, giving their quarterbacks more control at the line of scrimmage to check out of one look and into another than they had in the team's previous system.
None of those changes are revolutionary by modern NFL standards, but it was interesting to hear Turner talk about his offseason foray into some different concepts. It's likely some of what he studied didn't wind up in the Vikings' playbook, and the core of Turner's offense probably won't change all that much, but the 62-year-old coordinator sounded invigorated by his work with some new ideas this spring.
"When you've been doing this, and you've had success with certain things, you tend to cling to those things," Turner said. "If you're paying attention, football in the NFL is evolving -- and I'm not saying it's changing, because you'd better be able to block, you'd better be able to tackle, you'd better be able to throw and catch and you'd better be fundamentally sound. But there's some things that we looked hard at, that we can get more people involved in the offense, we can spread the field better and we can take advantage of some of our guys with some things we've added that we've watched other people do. There were some things that, to be honest with you, were a little foreign to me. It's been fun. It's really been fun."