For the last 40 years,
Turner abruptly resigned in November as offensive coordinator of the
"Mike and I just had different ideas about what we needed to do and how we needed to do it," said Turner, 64, reached at his home in Del Mar. "It wasn't going to work, so I removed myself from it."
That has left him in the strange position of watching football at home, working on his golf swing, and putting on hold the only career he has ever known.
"I got fired with three games to go in Washington [at the end of the 2000 season], and that was weird," he said. "But this is totally different. I've talked to some of my friends who have retired, and they say, 'Retirement's not that bad. You should make sure you give it a real good look.' But no."
Turner declined to play the “what-if” game or talk about any potential coaching openings, only saying he intends to return to the league. It’s tempting to play connect-the-dots and say that the offensively lackluster
It’s worth noting that the only team that has generated fewer yards than the Rams this season is Minnesota, although the Vikings have been ravaged by injuries, losing quarterback
Regardless, Turner has a reputation as a quarterbacks expert, helping develop such players as
"Norv was patient with me," said Johnson, who played for Turner in Washington and threw for a career-best 4,005 yards in 1999. "He was patient when I couldn't call a play in the huddle. He was patient when I got there and had to have knee surgery, and he told me to just come watch practice.
"He just had a feel for the timing of the plays, and the quarterback's clock. He just made me a lot more decisive in the pocket."
Instead of rigidly adhering to his offensive system and making a quarterback conform to that, Turner tailors his system to the strength of that particular quarterback, whether it was Doug Flutie in San Diego, Jay Fiedler in Miami,
"His mind is unreal as far as scheming things, but yet he had a very common-sense approach to certain things," Rivers said of Turner. "Very early on it made me comfortable. He taught you how to read things and all that, but he wanted you to throw something if you saw it. Play by feel. We kind of hit it off from the start."
Rivers, who played for Turner in San Diego from 2007 to 2012, called Turner "my favorite coach of all time, other than my dad. What we built over those years was a friendship forever."
Johnson, for one, hopes Turner isn't an NFL spectator for long.
"Coaching is in his blood, so I hope he gets back into it," he said. "He's so well respected by everybody. I don't know where he'll wind up, but he needs to be back in the game."