Thoughts on Ron Turner as the new Colts receivers coach

So, by now you know that former Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner will be the new wide receiver coach for the Colts.

The old Colts receivers coach, Clyde Christensen, hasn't left and isn't planning on leaving anytime soon even though he has a good enough resume to coordinate an offense somewhere. When I spoke to Clyde at the Super Bowl, I asked him why he wasn't an OC with another team. He responded by telling me many people in the NFL have good jobs that they hate because for various reasons (I assumed the reasons were lazy players, crappy owner, incompetent head coach, moronic personnel department, etc.). However, with the Colts, Clyde told me he felt this was the best job for him. Why leave a good thing?

However, conventional logic would suggest Christensen possibly seeing the Turner hire as a threat. Ron Turner has been a reasonably successful offensive coordinator at the pro level, and he has connections up the bung hole due to his relationship with brother Norv Turner, the head coach with the Chargers. However, after reading John Oehser's take on this hiring, the move is not a signal that Clyde is on the way out, or that Senior Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore is retiring.

The move was made so that the Colts could add more coaching talent to the staff.

From Oehser:

This, too, seems a case in which the Colts really, really wanted Turner, considering he had just taken the job at Stanford a month ago. I still don't see Moore stepping away. He always has said he'll coach until a team won't have him coach anymore, and there's no reason to think that has changed. More than likely, this is a case where the Colts wanted another person on staff -- as well as a case where Turner, who has experience coaching receivers, may be able to coach that area while longtime receivers coach Clyde Christensen continues to become more involved with the overall offense and his assistant head coach duties.

You all might recall a Colts coach hiring a few years ago involving current Vikings DC and assistant head coach Leslie Frazier. Frazier was hired by then-Colts coach Tony Dungy to work with the defense. Like Ron Turner, Frazier had been a coordinator with another team (the Bengals), which could have been seen as a slight towards then-Colts defensive coordinator Ron Meeks. The move turned out to be very solid, as Frazier worked with Meeks and Dungy to dramatically improve the Colts defensive backfield. Prior to Frazier's hiring, the Colts passing defense ranked #28 in the league. During Frazier's tenure, the pass D ranked 15th in 2005 and 2nd in 2006. The year they were 2nd, they won the Super Bowl.

Again, for the life of me, it makes absolutely no sense why Leslie Frazier is not a head coach somewhere.

The hiring for Ron Turner on the offense is a move similar to the Frazier hire on defense in 2005. Turner will work with the wideouts while Christensen works more with Tom Moore on developing offensive game plans. Christensen will likely continue working in some capacity with the wideouts and continue his standard assistant coach duties, but his focus will be on the offense overall.

Again, this change is also not a sign Tom Moore is retiring. Unless something has happened behind the scenes, Tom Moore made it very clear to me at the Super Bowl that he has more energy now than ever before as a coach. He very much wants to continue coaching. My feeling is Moore is gradually getting phased out, and even when Christensen takes over as the OC, Moore will still work as a consultant. Moore has a good relationship with Christensen and the other offensive coaches. So, if he is getting phases out, it's unlikely it's being done against his wishes. Moore has always stated he would coach until they told him to stop.

Back to Turner, for those of you who do not know, Turner was as hated in Chicago as Russ Purnell was here in Indy. However, unlike Purnell, Turner actually had some accomplishments he could hang his hat on in Chicago. In addition, while Bears fans will certainly not like my take here, Turner was never the problem with the Bears offense. The Bears general manager, Jerry Angelo, is the culprit because Jerry Angelo is utterly incompetent as a personnel head. From 2005-2009, Angelo busted on multiple first round picks, diluting the Bears offensive talent and preventing them from winning on a consistent basis. Several of Angelo's later round picks have turned up gold, but when you bust first rounders to the degree Angelo has, it is going to seriously hurt your team's ability to make plays.

Here's a look at his first round rap sheet:

  • In 2005, Angelo took Cedric Benson with the #4 overall pick. While Benson has had a nice second-life with the Bengals recently, his Bears tenure was marked by laziness, apathy in the locker room, and fumbles.
  • In 2006, Angelo traded out of the first round, passing up players like Nick Mangold, DeAngelo Williams, and Joseph Addai, so he could take Danieal Manning and Devin Hester in the second round.
  • In 2007, he picked Greg Olsen, a tight end out of Miami. Olsen, while solid, has never developed into the potent weapon at TE he was expected to be.
  • In 2008, he took Vanderbilt left tackle Chris Williams despite warning signs that Williams had a bad back. Injuries to (you guessed it) Williams back have limited his effectiveness at the pro level.
  • In 2009, the Bears did not have any picks in the first two rounds because of the Jay Cutler trade. Need I say more?

So, say what you will about Ron Turner, but when you give an offensive coach garbage, one should not be surprised that the results are inconsistent. Turner managed to coach the best seasons out of players like Rex Grossman, Bernard Berrian, Thomas Jones, Matt Forte, and Kyle Orton. Promising young receiver Johnny Knox blossomed under Turner direction, and our old friend Devin Aromashodu started to show flashes last year with the Bears. Prior to his second tenure in Chicago as the OC (his first was in the early 1990s), he was Kelvin Hayden's head coach at the University of Illinois.

Now, if this move was Ron Turner as OC, I'd be a bit puzzled. It isn't though. This is about adding yet another talented coach to an already strong group. It is also yet another smart coaching change by Jim Caldwell, who dramatically improved the defense and special teams last season with coaching changes that saw Ray Rychleski and Larry Coyer come to the Colts.

So, from this fan, welcome to the Indianapolis Colts Mr. Ron Turner. Glad to have you.

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