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Norv Turner thought he was holding Vikings' offense back

When he answered the phone Wednesday afternoon, hours after making one of the more shocking decisions of the 2016 season, Norv Turner had just woken up from a lengthy nap.

"Forgive me, I haven't slept in days," Turner told "This is the hardest thing I've done in football."

Turner abruptly stepped down as the Vikings' offensive coordinator Wednesday morning, leading to former tight ends coach Pat Shurmur's ascension on a short week and creating more questions than answers. What in the world happened?

In Turner's mind, after some difficult soul-searching, it boiled down to this: "Sometimes, you feel like you might be holding them back," Turner said, "holding them back from things all getting on the same page. I don't want anyone to think I was bailing. It just wasn't working."

Turner clarified a few things. He's completely healthy. He doesn't know if he's retiring at age 64, though he admits moving around has been difficult for his wife. He still has immense respect for Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.

"It's something people may not understand," Turner said. "It's not me against somebody else. The situation was such ... I don't think I could get done the things we needed to get done. It wasn't something you just wake up and decide. It's been building. It wasn't going to work with me. So let me get out of the way and let them have a chance to make it work."

A source involved with the situation was adamant that Turner was not forced out by the team. Turner's decision caught Zimmer by surprise, and Zimmer got emotional at the news conference discussing the departure.

In a way, Turner's comments are stunning. He was one of the NFL's most respected offensive coordinators. His arrival in Minnesota in January 2014 immediately lead to optimism about the Vikings' future, and his work with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (working alongside his son and quarterbacks coach Scott Turner) had impressed many within the team.

But Shurmur was a huge proponent of quarterback Sam Bradford, and he helped advocate for the trade with the Eagles. Bradford and Shurmur speak the same language, and have had success. Despite calling the plays, Turner was a bit of an outsider when it came to his quarterback and the shotgun wedding.

Injuries have crushed the Vikings, even with their hot start. From Bridgewater to Adrian Peterson to left tackle Matt Kalil, the entire season has been about slotting backups in and watching them adjust. As one Vikings source said, "bizarre is the new normal."

Turner admits several decisions "just didn't work." Not that there were better options, and because of injuries, there likely won't be many changes heading into Sunday's contest with the Detroit Lions.

Turner mentioned several times "where we are as a team" as a reason for why he stepped away.

So now, at 5-2, the Vikings go on without him. Turner thinks if the defense continues to play well, the team can be successful. But have we seen the last of Turner?

"I haven't made a decision," he said. "(My wife) Nancy and I say, 'Let's get to January and see where we are. That's been the case the last two to three years. But this has been a challenge for my wife. Cleveland, then Minnesota ... and we have a house five minutes from the ocean (in California) ... At 64 years old, if you continue, it would need to be a right place and with the right people."

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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