Inside Slant: Teddy Bridgewater in the House of Turner

Expectations for QB Teddy Bridgewater (5) are ramping up in his second season under coaches Norv Turner (left) and Scott Turner (right). AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

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MANKATO, Minn. -- The old man still has the fire. From behind the familiar aviators and the gray stubble, Norv Turner is seething. Half of the Minnesota Vikings' offense has jumped early during a recent training camp practice. Turner sends them back to the huddle with a mix of fury and method.

"Start thinking!" he yells. "It's not third-and-7 anymore! It's third-and-12! How many times do you think you can convert third-and-12?!"

Follow the gaze of the quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater never makes eye contact with his offensive coordinator. Instead, he's fixed on another assistant. Scott Turner, Norv's less volatile son and the Vikings' quarterbacks coach, offers a few quiet pointers and calls a new play. It's a deep completion to new receiver Mike Wallace.

The House of Turner is entering its second year of rule over the Vikings' offense, a development worth watching around the NFL. The Turners' early work with Bridgewater has been promising, and the return of tailback Adrian Peterson has conjured comparisons to Norv's high-scoring teams with the San Diego Chargers a decade ago. In Minnesota, it's not difficult to imagine Turner capping his career as one of this generation's top offensive minds with a final quarterback project -- and then passing the torch to a son who figures to garner national recognition if Bridgewater's star continues to rise.

"When you have a reputation as a heck of a quarterback coach, as Norv does, guys really buy in right away," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "They really want to make it work. That's what's happened here."

Bridgewater's strong finish to his rookie season -- he completed 72.1 percent of his passes over his last five games, the NFL's second-highest mark during that period -- has spurred high expectations for his first full season as a starter. Few mentors are better equipped to shepherd his development than Norv Turner, whose mixed career as a head coach overshadows his steady success as a coordinator and quarterback guru.

The history is pretty straightforward. He's made seven NFL stops as a coordinator or head coach. In five of them, he's pulled either the best or one of the best seasons of a quarterback's career. In a sixth instance, he rescued Alex Smith's career with the San Francisco 49ers after a disastrous rookie season.

Troy Aikman reached his highest single-season yardage total with the Dallas Cowboys under Turner in 1992. So did Doug Flutie for the 2001 Chargers. Gus Frerotte, playing for the Washington Redskins, made his only trip to the Pro Bowl in 1996. Jay Fiedler never had a higher passer rating as a starter than he did for Turner and the Miami Dolphins in 2002. Smith nearly doubled his rookie passer rating in 2006. The Chargers' Philip Rivers led the NFL in passer rating and touchdown passes in 2008 and yardage in 2010. Brian Hoyer threw for 590 yards and five touchdowns in his first two starts for Turner in 2013 before tearing his ACL while with the Cleveland Browns.

This season, the Vikings hope that pairing Bridgewater with Peterson can conjure the kind of success Turner had with the Chargers from 2007 to '09. As the chart shows, the Chargers were a top-5 scoring offense in each of the three seasons that LaDainian Tomlinson paired with Rivers and Turner as the lead tailback.

Bridgewater is not yet in Rivers' stratosphere, but his late-season surge revealed the attributes -- accuracy and anticipation -- that have powered Rivers over the years. Early ball placement issues were addressed with a focus on elbow mechanics, something Bridgewater focused on all offseason. ("Sometimes if I drop my elbow too low," he said, "a ball may sail on me.") And when asked about Bridgewater's relatively quick assimilation of his scheme, Turner referenced another likely Hall of Fame quarterback.

"There are some guys that are very, very natural with it," he said. "When I was in San Diego as an assistant [in 2001], we had Drew Brees as a rookie. He picked it up very fast. Very natural. Philip was that way. Hoyer was that way, too."

What's amazing is the Vikings are using the structure of an offense first introduced nearly 40 years ago. The Don Coryell "three-digit" scheme remains about 70 percent intact, Turner said. Many play calls still carry three numbers, each of which correspond to a route for one of the receiver positions -- the same sequences that Dan Fouts called in Coryell's huddle for the Chargers in the early 1980s.

Over the years, Turner, 63, has added code words to help today's players absorb the call. The 10-route "tree" has also expanded to include variations of distance and breakoff point for each. And close observers last season noted Turner added the zone read to his play-calling list. The Vikings ran 39 such plays, tied for 11th-most in the league, and scored two touchdowns off them, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"That's one of the great things about Norv," Zimmer said. "He's not stuck and set in his ways. He's able to adjust and keep up with where things are going."

It helps to have Scott Turner, 32, and only a few years removed from a stint as a high school coach, in his ear. A quarterback at UNLV in the mid-2000s, he entered the profession at a time when his father could have gotten him an NFL job. Instead, the two agreed that he should sample other environments -- two years at the prep level, three at the University of Pittsburgh, and two as a quality control coach with the Carolina Panthers -- before they united.

"The good thing is I was able to coach with some different guys and learn some different stuff," Scott said. "We're different people so we're always going to see some things differently. But ultimately we're pretty similar. One of my goals in coaching was always to coach with my dad before he retired."

That started in 2013, when former Panthers assistant Rob Chudzinski hired Scott as the Browns' receivers coach and Norv as his offensive coordinator. Zimmer quickly accepted Norv's suggestion to add Scott as the Vikings' quarterbacks coach last year.

"He's my son, so I think he's good, but it's not a matter of what I think," Norv Turner said. "He runs the quarterback meetings. I don't go in there and hold his hand. These players, they go to him more than they go to me. If you go talk to any of the assistant coaches on our staff or our players, they know that if for some reason I wasn't here, he could handle this thing."

The NFL is not always a difficult place to figure. If Bridgewater becomes the quarterback the Vikings think he can be, much of the public credit will go to the House of Turner. That's nothing new for Norv, but on this go-round, the second generation is in on the act as well.