How did it take this long for these rumors to start swirling? Well, they have and that’s all that matters. Many pundits are now speculating that if the San Diego Chargers don’t turn things around quickly, head coach Norv Turner could be facing the wrath of San Diego’s ownership. Personally I’d rather see Norv facing a firing squad, but a firing would suffice for now.
The Chargers have started slowly this season (understatement of the year) despite a wealth of talent that would make most teams giddy. What could the reason be for a 2-2 start? Well there have been some key injuries, like nose tackle Jamal Williams and center Nick Hardwick, both Pro Bowl-level players. But the bigger reason is that the team plays completely uninspired football. It’s Norv’s job to inspire his team. They simply don’t care to win for him. Say what you want about Marty Schottenheimer, but his players would have run through a wall for him. Norv engenders no such feelings.
Turner is a talented offensive mind and has proven to be an excellent coordinator in the NFL. But for some reason, as a head coach his play-calling changes and in pressure spots he completely wets himself.
A perfect example came during this year’s 31-26 home loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The Chargers were driving for the winning score with less than 45 seconds on the clock. That day Philip Rivers had torched the Ravens’ defense for 436 yards through the air. After an eight-yard completion to Legedu Naanee, the Chargers faced a third and two at the Ravens’ 15-yard line. The drive had started at the Chargers’ own 27-yard line, and San Diego had moved the ball quickly by spreading the offense out, using shotgun formations and allowing Rivers to survey the defense and find holes.
On third and two, Norv completely changed the strategy, brought in his tight package with two tight ends and fullback Jacob Hester. His first call was a play-action roll out, and no one was open, forcing Rivers to throw the ball away. He kept the same formation in for the ensuing fourth down play and called for Darren Sproles – all 5’6, 186 pounds of him – to run up the middle and try to push the pile for a first down. Ray Lewis, cut right through a depleted Chargers’ offensive line, and crushed Sproles for a five-yard loss. Game over. GREAT play call jackass.
Rather than rely on his Pro Bowl quarterback and his huge, talented receivers to win the game for him, he changed everything and tried to pound it using LaDainian Tomlinson’s Mini Me. Considering the team had rushed for just 53 yards on the day, and (again) thrown for 436 yards, my grandmother could have called a better play. If I owned the Chargers I would have walked down to the field and fired Turner right then and there.
The man has no common sense when it matters and can’t inspire his team in any way shape or form. In fact, the Chargers have been winning the past few years in spite of Norv Turner. Throw in the fact that Turner’s teams are incredibly undisciplined and he doesn’t even attempt to work the officials during a game, and you have a recipe for a great team becoming average.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that it’s hard for him to hang Norv after just four games, but if things don’t improve, he’d have to go.
With a coach like Bill Cowher – a guy who can inspire his team to great heights – still sitting on the sidelines, the Chargers would be crazy not to throw all kinds of cash at him before the team’s Super Bowl window closes. I’ve heard that Chargers’ general Manager A.J. Smith has a great relationship with Cowher and I know he’d be a perfect fit. Especially since he loves warm weather and though he really likes living in North Carolina, a move to San Diego would probably be acceptable. I’m not saying this will happen, but it’s an example of what’s out there if the Chargers look and try hard enough.