Norv Turner is returning to the NFL with the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers named the veteran coach their offensive coordinator on Friday. Turner takes over for Mike Shula, who was fired Tuesday. Turner’s addition to the Panthers‘ coaching staff was first reported by NFL Network’s Tiffany Blackmon.
Turner, who interviewed with the team Thursday, was considered among the top candidates to join Ron Rivera’s coaching staff.
“Truthfully, the offense we’ve run was basically born from what Norv has been doing for years,” Rivera said from his office Thursday night per the team’s official website.
The 65-year-old returns to the coaching ranks for the first time since his stunning decision in November 2016 to step down as offensive coordinator of the then first-place Minnesota Vikings. Prior to walking away from the Vikings, Turner had served as an NFL head coach or coordinator since 1991.
Turner is one of the league’s coaching graybeards. He has made previous stops as a head coach in D.C. (1994-2000), Oakland (2004-2005) and San Diego (2007-2012) and has had offensive coordinator stints in Dallas, San Diego, Miami, San Francisco and Cleveland (in addition to Minnesota).
Turner will be tasked with injecting new life into a Panthers offense that struggled with consistency en route to a solid 11-5 finish that was somewhat overshadowed by last week’s wild-card loss to the New Orleans Saints.
“Looking at what they had done with Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota, there are some similar styles in terms of the zone-read action, and then the prolific [passing] style going to three, five and seven-step drops,” Rivera said. “But Cam is unique. He is his own player. I know he’ll have Cam do what he does best, but I think his skill set will fit very nicely with what Coach Turner wants.”
The Panthers‘ woes on offense were its Achilles’ heel. Carolina finished 2017 ranked 19th in total offense (323.7 yards per game), 28th in passing (192.3 per game), fourth in rushing offense (131.4 per tilt) and 12th in points per game (22.7).
Finding more consistency and production from Cam Newton, while also relying less on his running abilities, will be one of Turner’s top objectives in Carolina. Rivera hasn’t had much success in tailoring an offense that keeps Newton more or less locked in the pocket — and the quarterback’s offseason shoulder surgery certainly didn’t help the cause.
Adding a veteran coach who has worked with a myriad of different quarterbacking styles could be what it takes to lift Newton and the Panthers to the next level.
Welcome to Carolina! pic.twitter.com/5ht2uzdIFf