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Turner's task: Coordinate evolution of the Carolina Panthers' offense
Receivers, Newton's development top goals
 
Published Tuesday, January 23, 2018 4:00 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Football offense goes beyond the coordinator’s name.

It isn’t about changing from a Mike Shula style to a Norv Turner style, said Turner, who succeeds Shula in the position with the Carolina Panthers. Rather, it’s about evolving into a dominant style.

Turner, who addressed local media today in a conference call, has worked in the NFL for 32 years as head coach and coordinator, with two Super Bowl rings earned as a Dallas Cowboys coordinator. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, who was Turner’s defensive coordinator in San Diego, played a critical factor in bringing Turner back to coaching after quitting midway through the 2016 season as the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive coordinator.

“I obviously know Ron better than anyone else I could have gone with,” Turner said of the factors that would “get me back into coaching again.”

When Rivera fired Shula and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey on Jan. 9, he said he had “a plan” to rejuvenate Carolina’s offense. It starts with Turner taking the Panthers from19th in total offense in 2017 (323.7 yards per game), fourth in rushing offense (131.4 yards), 12th in points (22.7) and 28th in passing (192.3 yards) to something resembling the 2015 offensive prowess that powered Carolina’s Super Bowl season. While they secured a playoff berth, the Panthers’ 11-5 regular season did not inspire enough confidence in the offense to keep all the pieces in place.

“There’s a really young group of players on the offensive side, particularly the receiver position,” Turner said. “When you have that kind of youth, that’s where you can really improve. We have a couple of guys coming off of injuries, that sort of thing. Those are certainly areas we’ll focus on.”

Quarterback Cam Newton’s 2017 season was the worst of his professional career as a passer. He has 41 touchdowns and 30 interceptions since his 2015 league MVP season. However, Newton remains dynamic as a runner, which Turner anticipates to “always be a part of what we do.”

“He has always got to have the threat to run,” Turner said of Newton’s career-high 139 carries for 754 yards and six touchdowns.

Coaching in Carolina is a family affair for Turner, whose son Scott replaces Dorsey as quarterbacks coach. They join another father-son Turner duo of Norv’s brother Ron, an offensive consultant, and nephew Cameron, the assistant quarterbacks coach.

Three of Carolina’s five new additions have been put in place. With former defensive line coach Eric Washington replacing defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who was named Arizona Cardinals head coach yesterday, Carolina needs a new defensive line coach as well as a new owner.

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