Former Vikings Coach Gets the Ax in Washington

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The Washington Commanders maintained a reasonable chance of making the playoffs until the final week of the regular season. Ron Rivera switched to Taylor Heinicke after an injury to Carson Wentz in October, and the move worked — for a while.

Ultimately, Heinicke’s magic dissipated, prompting Rivera to give Wentz one more look with playoff hopes on the line in Week 17 against the Cleveland Browns. The substitution flopped, Wentz wasn’t any good, the Browns won, and the Commanders missed the postseason.

Former Vikings Coach Gets the Ax in Washington

Washington finished 8-8-1 and appears to be committed to Rivera as head coach. But Rivera personally wasn’t satisfied with the underwhelming season, firing former Minnesota Vikings quarterback coach Scott Turner this week, who was the team’s offensive coordinator.

Former Vikings Coach Gets
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Son of Norv Turner, the Vikings offensive coordinator from 2014 to 2016, Scott Turner was Minnesota’s quarterbacks coach while his father ran the Vikings offense. It was the dawn of the Mike Zimmer era, Vikings football was turning around from a mostly-bad four consecutive seasons, and Turner was nurturing young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

After the 2016 campaign, Turner latched onto the Michigan Wolverines in 2017 as an offensive analyst, followed by a stint as the Carolina Panthers quarterbacks coach in 2018 and 2019. Then, Turner took over the Commanders offense in 2020 and reigned for three seasons.

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Rivera told ESPN about Turner’s exodus, “Unfortunately, we did not live up to the expectations and standard that I expected to see from our offensive unit. I felt it was best for a fresh start at the coordinator position going into next year.”

The Commanders offense ranked 25th leaguewide in 2022 per offensive EPA/Play and 28th in offensive DVOA. Not ideal.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Scott and thanked him for his three years of service to our organization,” Rivera added about moving on from Turner.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

Much of the Commanders offseason will involve plans at quarterback. The team’s splashy solution at QB1 via acquiring Carson Wentz last March emphatically didn’t work. The aforementioned Heinicke is fun-loving and courageous but mostly underwhelming as a QB1. Washington has the 16th overall pick in April’s draft and could use it on a quarterback or even move up the draft board via trade.

All told on Turner’s watch, Washington ranked 27th in the NFL in points scored from 2020 to 2022.

The Vikings toppled Rivera, Turner, and the Commanders in Week 9 by a score of 20-17. Former Vikings linebacker Jack Del Rio runs Washington’s defense and remains in the job through a few days of the Commanders offseason.

The Commanders have started a dozen different quarterbacks since Kirk Cousins left the franchise in 2018.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).