The Minnesota Vikings are in a state of transition after several major coaching changes this offseason. Gone are the days of Leslie Frazier and Bill Musgrave, here are the days of Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner.
Fans are well aware of Zimmer’s past success on the defensive side of the ball, and you can argue that Turner has had even more success on the offensive side of the ball. While Zimmer’s 4-3 scheme is a least somewhat familiar to the Vikings defenders, the same cannot be said for most of the offensive players who are learning Turner’s scheme.
“This is the first time I’ve been I’m in a numbers system. The first thing I did when I got the playbook, I was trying to figure out what exactly does this number mean,” said QB Matt Cassel via ESPN.
Adrian Peterson added: “Just as a whole what coach Turner brings is pretty amazing and more free. (We’re) able to digest everything as a group, and I think it’s going to be fun. Where I’m at now, the terminology, I’m starting to pick it up even more. It’s all about staying in that playbook, understanding the terminology and breaking the play down. It’s going well.”
The ‘numbers system’ Cassel is referring to is typically called Air Coryell, a scheme devised by Don Coryell, long-time college and NFL coach (1953-1986). Instead of names for passing routes, Air Coryell uses numbers.
Obviously, it’s going to be a challenge for any offensive players who’ve never played in such a system. Many of the team’s key players like Peterson, Cassel and Greg Jennings have never been in an Air Coryell type of scheme.
But as they say, hard work does pay off. Changing offenses in any sport on any level is a challenge. But Turner’s system is proven to work. He’s been calling plays in the NFL since 1991 for a reason.
As for any specific changes that fans should look for? Peterson is expected to be used as a receiver out of the backfield on a much more frequent basis, which is a move that’s about three years overdue.