Carolina's offense hasn't functioned especially well over the past two seasons. To fix it, Carolina brought in offensive legend Norv Turner, who today addressed the media after training camp practice. While some questioned Norv's motivation in returning to the game after a season hiatus, there were three questions and responses that revealed a lot about Turner's strategy in building a "complete offense."
1) "Are they picking up on things to your pace to your liking?"
Norv's response was optimistic, highlighting the amount of situations and looks that they are throwing at the players, stating "I think they've handled it real well." What Turner hit on that is important is that while the guys are executing at a high level at the things they have had the most reps at, "there are just things we need to do better and do faster." The message was similar when he evaluated DJ Moore's performance, stating "when he has had reps at something, he's been outstanding. You can see a young-guy when they are unsure, they don't run as fast, line up as fast. You can see the wheels turning."
If you watched the Panthers offense under previous offensive coordinator, Mike Shula, you'd see the importance of this component because it was sorely lacking on more than one occasion. Simple situations of getting the play in and lining up didn't work smoothly. To make things worse, it was often at the most inopportune times. Turner isn't talking about the need for the offense to play faster to manufacture offensive snaps, he's talking about playing fast between the ears. This happens just as much before the ball is snapped as after.
2) What's realistic about McCaffrey's workload as he enters his second year? (paraphrased)
"Every game comes up different. I keep telling guys what we want to do is be able to look at a team and see what they do well and what they don't do well and match up what we do well against their weaknesses. There's a lot of ways to attack people."
Turner’s response wasn’t limited to McCaffrey’s role, but instead directed at the strategy that goes into “attacking” defenses in the NFL. While many have been critical about the philosophical similarities between Turner’s system and the offense that of Mike Shula’s offense, it’s Turner’s approach as a tactician that truly distinguishes him from Shula. Turner later remarked on the similarities, noting that his offense was originally installed by Rod Chudzinski, who was his understudy in San Diego, and carried on by Shula. While there is a certain philosophical continuity, Turner will be introducing a new things, and these will be strategic to the weaknesses of the opponent and tuned to the strengths of the Panthers. “It’s going to show up through the season, he encouraged, concluding that they are trying to build a complete offense. That will include things they have done here and things they haven’t.”
The improvement to the Panthers offense with the addition of Turner is already becoming apparent. You can see it in the body language of the players and really the impressive performance of the offense in camp so far. The greatest improvement, however, will “show up through the season” as we see the Panthers offense play faster and have a clear strategy for attacking opponents.
By Tony Dunn
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