You hear of teams changing coordinators all the time, but it's when said team is struggling. The Detroit Lions replaced their offensive coordinator during last season, for example. The Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars have done it this year. What those teams had in common was they were all struggling.
That's what made Wednesday's announcement that Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner, a very highly-regarded guy, was quitting immediately so shocking. Granted, the Minnesota offense has been stuck in the mud in back-to-back ugly losses, but the team leads the NFC North at 5-2. Apparently this decision was entirely Turner's and he wasn't forced out by Coach Mike Zimmer, a defensive guy who is pretty much hands off when it comes to the offense. Zimmer said he was "very, very surprised." It was so out of left field that most players found out about it through the media.
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Turner simply said things weren't working. What's interesting is that Turner said he wasn't retiring, but why would any team hire him after quitting on a Super Bowl contender? Plus, he did it with Minnesota on a short week after losing in Chicago on Monday. This is the last thing the Vikings need after already losing offensive guys like QB Teddy Bridgewater, RB Adrian Peterson and left tackle Matt Kalil to season-ending injuries.
Tight ends coach Pat Shurmur has been promoted to offensive coordinator. He formerly held that role in St. Louis and Philadelphia and thus knows quarterback Sam Bradford as well as anyone. He was one of the guys who recommended the Vikings trade for Bradford on the eve of the season. Bradford started this season great but has had his two lowest-rated games the past two weeks. In his defense, the Vikings' offensive line is a problem and they can't run the ball, either. Minnesota is -6 against visiting Detroit on Sunday.
Here are some line moves or potential game-changing injury notes for Week 9.
Jaguars at Chiefs (-7, 44): I touched on this in Monday's Opening Line Report and the line was 8.5 then and the total 45.5. No doubt both have dropped because Chiefs starting quarterback Alex Smith has been officially ruled out with a concussion. This has to be tough on Smith because the last time he missed time with a concussion, he lost his starting job on the 49ers to Colin Kaepernick. I do think backup Nick Foles has a higher upside than Smith but also is more likely to make mistakes. Foles is a favorite of Coach Andy Reid's as when the Eagles drafted Foles in 2012, Reid was their coach. Frankly, the Kansas City offense was better when Foles replaced Smith last week in the win over the Colts. It's still not clear if No. 1 running back Spencer Ware will play due to his own concussion. It doesn't look good. And top receiver Jeremy Maclin is dealing with a groin injury that must have happened during practice. I'd be nervous if you have the Chiefs in your Survivor Pool.
Saints at 49ers (+4.5, 51): Line has risen 1.5 points and the total two. The Saints are taking a huge lean. And their terrible defense is expected to get a major boost on Sunday with the NFL debut of first-round pick Sheldon Rankins, a defense tackle out of Louisville who will really help against the run. Rankins fractured his fibula in August, was placed on injured reserve and designated as the Saints' player to return this year. Top cornerback Delvin Breaux also might play for the first time since sustaining a broken fibula in Week 1. San Francisco could get back No. 1 tailback Carlos Hyde. He is tied for third in the NFL with six rushing touchdowns despite missing the team's previous game against the Buccaneers. Hyde is easily the team's best offensive player but might be a game-time call with an AC joint injury in his shoulder.
Cowboys at Browns (+7, 48.5): This line has dropped a half-point and the total jumped up two. I would have taken Cleveland at 7.5 as I think this could be a trap game for Dallas, but I'd most likely give the 7. A few books (5Dimes being one) still have it at 7.5. The big question here is who starts at quarterback for Cleveland. Rookie Cody Kessler missed last week's loss to the Jets with a concussion and Josh McCown returned from a shoulder injury to start. Coach Hue Jackson still hasn't announced his guy, but with the Browns being winless I would imagine it's Kessler if healthy so the team can determine whether he's the future. Cleveland actually pondered taking Cowboys rookie QB Dak Prescott in the third round of this year's draft but opted for Kessler. Looks like yet another draft mistake for Cleveland, although Kessler has been pretty solid. Prescott has been fantastic. The Browns are expecting their 2016 first-round pick, receiver Corey Coleman, to return this week. He has missed six games with a broken hand.
Jets at Dolphins (-3.5, 44): Miami is pretty healthy off its bye week, although starting tight end Jordan Cameron, who suffered a concussion against the Browns in Week 3, hasn't returned to practice. His season/career might be over. The big story line here is Fins running back Jay Ajayi as he is the fourth player in NFL history with back-to-back 200-yard games and none of the previous three -- O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams (with Miami) -- were able to do it a third straight time. The Jets lead the NFL in run defense but could be missing defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle, game-time decision), linebacker Darron Lee (ankle, doubtful) and cornerback Buster Skrine (knee, missed last week). Center Nick Mangold is likely to miss another week with his ankle injury.
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