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Air Coryell Lands in Minnesota

 The well-traveled Norv Turner is officially the new Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator. Unless Turner decides to show a new wrinkle at age 61, it’s safe to say the Vikings will employ a vertical passing attack mixed with a power running game long known as the Air Coryell offensive system.

 Turner takes over a Vikings’ offense that was ranked 23rd in passing in 2013, yet he has plenty of talent at the skill positions to work with moving forward. Norv Turner must be sleeping easy at night thinking about the damage Adrian Peterson could do running out of a spread formation. And the thought of a big TE like Kyle Rudolph with great hands and enough speed to stretch the field vertical, certainly has him dreaming of sugar-plums and candy canes. But possibly the sweetest vision dancing in Turner’s head might be his plan to develop Cordarrelle Patterson as one of the top wide receivers in the NFL.

 Before all the dreaming can become a reality though, Turner must find the long term answer at the quarterback position. The Vikings have the eighth pick in this year’s draft, so you can bet landing a franchise quarterback is high on Turners wish list.

 What does a typical Air Coryell quarterback look like? What quarterbacks in the 2014 draft fit the Norv Turner mold?

 Don Coryell preferred having a big, strong-armed guy that could get the ball down field accurately and on time. Mobility is not a premium as much as standing tall in the pocket and getting the ball out quickly. Reading deep to short is the typical progression and guys like Dan Fouts, Troy Aikman, Kurt Warner, Phillip Rivers, and Joe Flacco have had great success in Air Coryell systems.

 The 2014 draft is deep with quarterbacks and Turner will be shopping for a pocket passer with a big arm who also has some size and moxie to take a hit. With a handful of quarterback-starved teams positioned ahead of the Vikings, Turner and the Vikings might be forced to find a quality signal caller outside of the first round.

 In a perfect world Blake Bortles would be available with the #8 overall pick, but because the quarterback position is the most essential piece in today’s pass happy NFL offenses, don’t hold your breath that he will be available. Teddy Bridgewater will probably also be off the board when the Vikings are on the clock. The ever popular and polarizing Johnny Manziel might be available, but I question whether or not he is a true fit in the Norv Turner QB mold. That leaves Derek Carr, Zach Mettenberger, or Jimmy Garoppolo, as potential first or second rounders that Turner could target. In the later rounds, the Vikings could take a long look at Tajh Boyd, AJ McCarron, Logan Thomas, and Jeff Mathews.

 As the draft gets closer I might change my mind, but right now, I think Zach Mettenberger might represent the best fit for the Vikings. At 6-5 235lb and boasting one of the strongest arms in the class, Mettenberger is exactly what Don Coryell would have been looking for in a quarterback. It is no surprise Mettenberger had a big senior year under Air Coryell offensive guru Cam Cameron at LSU this season. Mettenberger lead the SEC and was 3rd nationally in passer efficiency with a 171.4 rate. He also lead the conference in yards per completion at 16.1. Mettenberger completed 64.9 % of his attempts and threw for 3082 yards.

His late season torn ACL has hurt his draft stock a bit and could scare off a few teams, but the Vikings have taken chances on guys with injury concerns in the past.

 If there is a run on quarterback in the first 7 selections, the Vikings will be in great position to land a stud defensive standout with the 8th pick, and then select Mettenberger in the second round with the 40th overall selection.

 However, before Turner gets too excited about the draft… he will need to address the plan involving the three quarterbacks currently on the Vikings’ roster. Turner prefers a traditional dropback quarterback, so the writing might be on the wall for the West Coast run quick style of Christian Ponder. Ponder’s 1.8 million salary could be on the trading block this off-season. Josh Freeman is a free agent, but he has the big arm and the 6-6 frame that Turner covets. The future of Matt Cassel, who finished the season as the starter, remains unclear as well. Cassel is a 6-4 230lbs veteran pocket passer with just enough arm strength to possibly be a good short term option for Turner and the Vikings heading into 2014.

 Hopefully the next  big news coming out of  Winter Park will include Turner and Zimmer’s plan with Cassel, Freeman and Ponder.


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Carl Knowles

Carl Knowles (Contributor) is a former member of the Professional Bowler Association and an avid lifelong Vikings fan. When he is not bowling you can find him on websites and forum pages sharing his creative insight and enthusiasm for the Minnesota Vikings any chance he gets. Carl was a Phoenix Institute of Technology and Purdue University standout who currently enjoys the challenge of being a graphic director in the printing business. You can follow him on twitter @carlknowles_vt.

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  1. Ive been telling everyone i know, Zack fits the norv turner to a t. and he wouldnt costa first rounder, if you saw him play enough u see he didnt shy away in pocket cuz of pressure, he stands tall literally and hes got a cannon, also seems to be the most accurate going deep over guys like bortles, carr, jimmy.

    1. While I agree he fits the mold I don’t care for ZM at all. There are 4quarterbacks I want us avoid like the plague; Metterberger, Carr, Tahj Boyd, and AJ McCarron. I’m also wary of Bridgewater (lack of leadership and respect) and Bortles (hype machine rising him too fast).

  2. I can’t wait to see what Jimmy Garoppolo does at the combine and pro days. i think he could be a very good qb. Also heard Brock Jensen from NDSU father has said that the Packers will draft him in the 7th round if he is available. Brock Jensen is from Wisconsin. I would rather see Brock Jensen on the Vikings.

  3. Carl, you said the draft is deep on QB’s, but I have hearing from experts lately that there isn’t one great qb in the draft. They are saying that this is a down year for qb’s. Tony Dungy said he wouldn’t any of this years qb’s before the 3rd or 4th round, if he would draft any of them at all. He was on tv saying that.

    1. 4 QB’s could go in the top 8 picks! And the mid rounders are very serviceable.

      The “experts” didn’t grade Russell Wilson or Collin Kaepernick out to be “great” at draft time either.

      When I say deep, I’m also talking about QB’s that may not be first rounders or “great” but still could make an impact in the NFL… like Kaepernick and Wilson.

      1. There have been many drafts before with a bunch a qb’s going in the top ten that are busts. I don’t think there will be 4 qb’s drafted in the top ten. I don’t think the VIkings will draft a qb in the top ten either.

    2. I meant to say, Tony Dungy said he wouldn’t Draft any of this years qb’s before the 3rd or 4th round. Missed the word draft.

  4. Kind of amusing….. Norv wasn’t at the Senior bowl..but his son was. Norv hasn’t done any “shopping” yet.

  5. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Turner keep Freeman. As Carl said, he has the size and big arm.
    If he turns out NOT to be a head case and can actually put in the work, we may be lucky enough to already have our QB. Wouldn’t that be something?; The Vikings catching a break, in regard to the QB position? Highly unlikely but not out of the question.
    Probably you’re last chance Josh.
    So what do you say? Want to put in the time and effort and see your potential (And make a boatload money) or stay home and play with your snakes?

    1. Certainly fits the physical requirements, but if the rumors regarding him showing up late to meetings and being last in-first out are true, it’s hard to imagine him coming back. At that position, your not going to be successful if your not willing to put the work in, and I tend to think coaches don’t want to feel they need to coach a QB up to be a student of the game. They would be better off letting him leave so he can zero out a key defensive FA pickup for next years comp pick formula. If nobody wants him in free agency and he can be brought to camp on a minimum contract, that changes things a bit. They could probably draft Logan Thomas in the mid to late rounds of the draft and get a fresh start with someone who has the same football inconsistencies, but without the previous baggage that has morphed Freeman into a lazy pro. I’ld rather coach up a rookie than a guy whose already got 5 years of pre-conceived NFL notions.

      1. Agree 100% Dan.
        I am not making excuses for Freeman, but I am not sure if the team and coaches really gave Freeman their best effort. I’m not so sure this team even wanted Freeman, or gave him 100%. So why would Freeman want to give this team 100%.

        As I went back and re-watched the NY Giants game. Freeman knew where to go with the ball… and he looked ok in the pocket. His throws were high all night, I get that, but 4 or 5 of those could have been caught.
        He had to throw some away because of pressure, which didn’t help his stats either.

        Our offensive line and running game didn’t even show up to play against the G-men. Freeman was knocked to the ground on just about ever other pass play.

        The special teams turned the ball over 2 times!!

        Freeman, out side of throwing high all night (which is probably correctable – only had a week to work with the WRs and learn the play book), I thought he really only made 2 bad mistakes. In scoring territory under heavy pressure, he threw one up for grabs that got picked. The next time the Vikings were in field goal range, he got sacked that forced us to punt.

        Those 6 points would have made it a very close game… that is until the special teams gave the game away.

      2. Yeah, freeman sounds like a bit of a jerk but who knows? Maybe he’ll come to his senses.

    2. Agree Fran. The choice is his…if he really wants to be a successful QB in the NFL, I think it’s possible.
      He plays with snakes?

      1. The guy has like dozen boas and pythons. Talks about “Loving” them.
        Kind of creeps me out.

  6. Kirby Wilson is another solid addition to this coaching staff. I’ve been very happy with the names that have gotten leaked so far.

  7. lookin’ more and more like there are no QBs in the draft worth moving up to grab (giving up picks)…..if someone Norm has his eye on “drops” to us, then OK…in any round…..but if not, build this defense, work with Cassell and Freeman (if they stay) and possible FAs, and maybe the QB of the future will be in the cards for next year… Coach said all year long, the offense (minus Ponder) wasn’t that bad, it was the defense that let us down and kept us from winning our division…..LBs, DTs and CBs, AND a new coaching staff and we are off to the races…..not so concerned about QBs right now…..(but I probably would get a little adrenalin rush if Bortles was available come pick #8)

    1. I wouldn’t move up from the 8th spot for a QB… But I would be ok it the Vikings moved up from the 40th spot for Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo.