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Ron Rivera discusses decision to hire Norv Turner


CHARLOTTE – Norv Turner has never coached the Carolina Panthers, but his influence has been felt ever since head coach Ron Rivera took charge in 2011.

"Truthfully, the offense we've run was basically born from what Norv has been doing for years," Rivera said from his office Thursday night.

The first offensive coordinator of the Rivera era was Rob Chudzinksi, who learned under Turner in San Diego. And when Chudzinksi left the Panthers to become the Browns head coach in 2013, Rivera said one of the first calls he made was to Turner.

"I called Norv to see what the interest would be," Rivera recalled. "But at that point, he was already going with Chud to be the OC in Cleveland."

Rivera ultimately promoted Mike Shula to offense coordinator, who for five seasons put his own imprint on what Chudzinksi started.

But Rivera wanted a change. And this time, the call to Turner resulted in him accepting the offer to become Carolina's next offensive coordinator. Friday, it became official.

"He's very excited about it," said Rivera, who was Turner's defensive coordinator for three seasons in San Diego. "This offense is pretty much going to continue with what we do and how we do it. We'll just have a different guy with a different set of eyes and different perspective calling plays and making those decisions.

"There is so much value in his background. He's coached Hall of Famers, he's set a lot of people on the career paths that they've had. I'm really excited about his knowledge and his offensive prowess. It's going to be invaluable to us having him evaluate our personnel and help take our quarterback to another level."

Any offense starts with the quarterback, and Turner, who was most recently offensive coordinator for the Vikings from 2014-16, will aim to bring the best out of Cam Newton as he enters his eighth season.

"Looking at what they had done with Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota, there are some similar styles in terms of the zone-read action, and then the prolific (passing) style going to three, five and seven-step drops," Rivera said. "But Cam is unique. He is his own player. I know he'll have Cam do what he does best, but I think his skill set will fit very nicely with what Coach Turner wants."

Turner's plan has always centered on the idea of establishing the run and using that to set up vertical shots down the field.

"It matches with the philosophy that I've grown up in," Rivera said. "You run the football, you're physical as a running team, but then you take your shots with hard play action. It's OK to throw the ball downfield and see how things unfold."

Turner's name came up in conversation last December when the Panthers were preparing to play the Chargers. Rivera spoke glowingly about the knowledge he gained from his former boss.

"He's such a brilliant offensive mind. In talking with him, just listening to him, you can learn things," Rivera said. "A lot of little things listening to him talk helped me.

"He was terrific for my career."

Now Turner's boss, Rivera believes his players will soon be saying the same.

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