Scott Turner

Panthers Hire OC Norv Turner

The Panthers have hired longtime NFL coach Norv Turner their next offensive coordinator. The news was first reported by David Newton of ESPN.com.

Turner was in Carolina on Wednesday to formally interview for the position and it didn’t take long for the two sides to hammer out an agreement. On Friday, the team made it official.

Norv Turner (vertical)

Turner’s hiring should come as no surprise, especially given that he was the first — and only — candidate mentioned following the firing of Mike Shula on Tuesday. Reports indicated the Panthers preferred to hire a veteran coach, and Turner certainly fits that bill. He’s served as a coordinator for six clubs and been a head coach for three more teams. Turner, 65, was most recently the offensive play-caller for the Vikings before abruptly resigning midway through the 2016 campaign.

In addition to his wealth of experience, Turner is also close with Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. Turner hired Rivera as an assistant coach and later defensive coordinator when both worked for the Chargers, and Turner also recommended Rivera for the Carolina job when it became open in 2011.

With the Panthers, Turner will take over a unit that boasts pieces such as quarterback Cam Newton, running back Christian McCaffrey, wide receiver Devin Funchess, and tight end Greg Olsen. Despite those options, Carolina’s offense struggled in 2017, ranking 12th in scoring, 17th in DVOA, and 19th in yards.

Meanwhile, Scott Turner will join his father in heading to Carolina, as he’ll become the Panthers’ new quarterbacks coach. The younger Turner most recently served as QBs coach at the University of Michigan, and has worked with the Panthers, Browns, and Vikings at the NFL level.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Bengals, Smith, Ravens, Vikes

With Cincinnati’s offensive line facing offseason uncertainty, a reunion with former Bengal/current Viking right tackle Andre Smith could make sense for both parties, as Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer opines (Twitter links). Smith, whom the Bengals made the sixth overall pick in 2009, played seven seasons in the Queen City before inking a one-year deal with Minnesota last year. If he did rejoin Cincinnati, Smith would slot back in at right tackle, where 2015 first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi recently struggled. One problem with such a scenario, per Dehner, would be forcing 2015 second-round pick Jake Fisher — who played well at right tackle last year — to guard, a position he hasn’t played much of in the NFL.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Although Kyle Juszczyk would view a return to the Ravens as “phenomenal,” the veteran fullback would consider other any offers that might be proposed this spring, he tells SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). The 25-year-old Juszczyk led all NFL fullbacks in both offensive snaps (465) and receptions (37) in 2016, although the lack of fullback usage in the league figures to drive down his market. In terms of positional spending, the Chiefs’ Anthony Sherman currently leads all fullbacks with a $2.1MM annual salary. Juszczyk, a former fourth-round pick out of Harvard, will join a free agent fullback class that includes Patrick DiMarco (Falcons), Marcel Reece (Seahawks), and Jerome Felton (Bills).
  • Former Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner has joined the University of Michigan as an offensive analyst, tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. Turner’s father, Norv, resigned as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator midway through last season, and while Scott was retained to finish out the campaign, he was fired by the Vikings last month. Although Turner had coached in the NFL since 2011, he didn’t have many options around the league if he wanted to continue leading quarterback rooms — the only QB coaching job still available is in Kansas City, per Dan Hatman of The Scouting Academy (Twitter link).
  • Cornerback Bene Benwikere‘s one-year deal with the Bengals is worth $690K, the minimum for a player with three years experience, according to Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Still only 25 years old, Benwikere took visits with four other clubs (including the Jets) before signing with Cincinnati. He’ll compete for a spot in the Bengals’ secondary that includes Adam Jones, Darqueze Dennard, William Jackson III, Josh Shaw, and pending free agent Dre Kirkpatrick.

Vikings Fire QB Coach Scott Turner

A day after the Vikings announced that they’d be retaining offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, it appears that another member of the offensive coaching staff is on his way out. Alex Marvez of The Sporting News reports (via Twitter) that the organization has fired quarterbacks coach Scott Turner.

Scott TurnerTurner, the son of long-time coach (and former Vikings offensive coordinator) Norv Turner, had a successful season in 2016 considering the circumstances. He certainly played a role in Sam Bradford‘s bounce-back season, as the former first-overall pick finished the campaign with 3,877 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. Of course, Turner was only dealing with Bradford because starter Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season with a torn ACL. The former first-rounder’s success could also be attributed to Turner, as Bridgewater connected on nearly 65-percent of his passes during his two seasons as a starter.

Turner joined the Vikings organization in 2014. Prior to his tenure in Minnesota, the 34-year-old served as the Browns wide receivers coach and the Panthers offensive quality control coordinator.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Mailbags: Hawthorne, Collins, Bridgewater

Here are some notes from some of the most recent NFC mailbags coming out of New Orleans and Minneapolis.

  • The Raiders pried Curtis Lofton, the Saints‘ best second-level player in recent seasons, away from New Orleans. As a result, the Saints are planning to use veteran David Hawthorne in his place in the middle and as the defensive signal-caller, ESPN’s Mike Triplett said in the second part of his Saints mailbag. Entering his age-30 season, Hawthorne started weakside backer in the Saints’ 4-3 last year and while he’s a mid-tier performer at best at this point in his career, Hawthorne is incredibly versatile. He’s played four different positions the past four seasons, lining up as the Seahawks’ starting middle linebacker in 2011, before backing up on the strong side in New Orleans in ’12, then moving to an inside spot in a 3-4 look a year later before moving back outside last season.
  • While expecting Hawthorne to start regardless of who the Saints draft, Triplett notes the team hasn’t used a first- or second-round pick on a linebacker since Sean Payton arrived in 2006. While they’ve acquired Jonathan Vilma, Lofton and most recently Dannell Ellerbe and Anthony Spencer through trades or free agency, Triplett lists inside backer as possibly the Saints’ No. 1 need. He doesn’t expect the Saints to use their No. 13 pick on such a player but sees that as a key option at Nos. 31 or 44, possibly both, with Shaq Thompson (Washington), Eric Kendricks (UCLA) and Stephone Anthony (Clemson) among the options in that case.
  • Landon Collins may be too much of a run-stopping safety to mesh well in the Vikings‘ defense, writes ESPN’s Ben Goessling in his mailbag. Since upper-echelon safety Harrison Smith ventures around the formation with blitzing tendencies, Goessling notes the Vikings probably need a player who can cover ground deep.
  • Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner recently traveled to Montana to observe ways to incorporate more quick passes into the Vikings’ offense. A Division II coach for many years, Bob Stitt‘s now at Montana, and Turner was intrigued by the way his offenses can find myriad methods of putting the ball in receivers’ hands via screen passes. With Teddy Bridgewater already having success in the screen game with Jarius Wright and, at times Cordarrelle Patterson, he now has speedster Mike Wallace, which would make acquiring additional intel in this area relevant, Goessling said.