Thursday, January 17, 2013
Landing Norv Turner is coup for Browns
By Jamison Hensley
Rob Chudzinski's first move as Browns head coach was an impressive one -- hiring Norv Turner as offensive coordinator.
While Turner has his shortcomings as a head coach (114-122-1), he has developed quarterbacks and has a reputation for being a top-notch play-caller. In terms of coaching moves, this is a major victory for the Browns.
"Norv has been one of the most respected offensive coaches in the NFL over the last 25-30 years, and he has had a tremendous amount of success at each one of his stops -- as a position coach, coordinator and head coach," Chudzinski said in a statement. "I was able to learn a great deal in the time that I worked for him in San Diego, and I expect that having him as our offensive coordinator will make a big impact on that side of the ball."
Norv Turner was successful in developing QB Philip Rivers in San Diego. Can Turner do the same with Brandon Weeden in Cleveland?
This is a major accomplishment for Chudzinski to recruit Turner to Cleveland. It also says a lot about Chudzinski that Turner is willing to come to the Browns even though he's guaranteed to make $3 million from the Chargers this year. Turner provides hope for what has been a hopeless Browns offense. He is not only the top offensive coordinator candidate available, but he's also a great fit for the Browns.
Downfield passing is the foundation for Air Norv, and that starts with an offensive line giving the quarterback enough time to look deep. The Browns have a promising offensive line, and Turner won't have to worry about the blind side with Joe Thomas at left tackle. Wide receiver Josh Gordon, who averaged 16.1 yards per reception last season, has the chance to be the next Vincent Jackson in Turner's big-play offense.
Turner's history shows that he won't forget about the running game. When he became coordinator in Dallas, he inherited a second-year running back in Emmitt Smith, who eventually became the NFL's all-time rushing leader. Coincidentally, Turner comes to Cleveland in the second season for running back Trent Richardson, who attended the same high school in Florida as Smith.
The biggest question is whether Turner can make Brandon Weeden a franchise quarterback. Weeden has the big arm that Turner needs in his offense. But Turner has to find a way to improve Weeden's ability to read defenses and his overall feel for the game. That will ultimately determine whether Turner is a success or failure in Cleveland.
Expectations have to be tempered with Turner. His last two stints as coordinator haven't been instant restoration projects. Under Turner, the Dolphins offense finished 15th in 2002 and 24th in 2003. His last stop as coordinator was 2006 in San Francisco, where the offense was 26th in the league but quarterback Alex Smith showed signs of a turnaround.
For the Browns, the offense can really only go up. Here are the final rankings for the Cleveland offense over the past five seasons: 30th (2008), 29th (2009), 31st (2010), 30th (2011) and 24th (2012). The Browns have talent on offense but they underachieved under former coach Pat Shurmur. With Turner, the Browns have their best chance of reaching expectations on offense.