Earlier this week, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan said he probably would have a couple of rings if he had gotten the Chargers’ job in 2007 instead of current San Diego head coach Norv Turner (both interviewed for the job and Turner was hired because he could keep the same offensive system in place). Ryan immediately called Turner to apologize for his dick-ish comments, and ESPN seems to be focusing their coverage on the fact that Ryan’s Jets have not, in fact, won the Super Bowl yet despite his promises.
For Chargers fans, Ryan’s comments hit way too close to home. It was nice to see Turner respond with, “I was wondering if he had those rings with the ones he’s guaranteed the last couple of years” and everything, but all this whole flap did was highlight just how disappointing the Norv Turner Era has been.
Ryan was right. The Chargers really were loaded when Turner took over, and most thought even Norval couldn’t turn that bunch into the disappointing mess his stints with the Raiders and Redskins had become.
Turns out Chargers fans got nothing but disappointment anyway.
Sure, Rex Ryan hasn’t won a title with the Jets, and most love pointing that fact out since the world revolves around New York City, apparently.
But this latest controversy, and even this Sunday’s game against the Jets, is a stark reminder of just how disappointing the past decade of Chargers football has been. They won the division several times, yet never got past the AFC Championship game (or the Jets or Patriots for that matter) despite some very good records. Turner himself has had his most successful run as a head coach and yet has nothing but a handful of playoff victories and many more bad losses to show for it.
The Norv Turner Era has been nothing but “what-ifs” for San Diego fans, and Rex Ryan reminding everyone of it just made things that much worse.
There was the 2009 Chargers team that went 13-3 only to drop an easy one at home to the punch-less Jets and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez in overtime. Also the 11-5 2006 Chargers that managed to win a couple of playoff games before injuries made a win in New England in the AFC Championship game impossible. Who knows what would have happened with a fully healthy LaDainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers on that day. Not that it’s completely Turner’s fault, but the “what-if’s” from his tenure sure do add up, and those two examples are only the most egregious.
Maybe John Butler’s tenure as GM had to be cut short by cancer and his untimely death. Maybe A.J. Smith really did have good reasons for firing former head coach Marty Schottenheimer and running LaDainian Tomlinson out of town (He didn’t. Smith is just that much of a dick). Maybe the team’s shot at the Super Bowl passed them by when they lost to the Patriots with Tomlinson out and Rivers playing on one knee. Maybe Nate Kaeding will make a clutch field goal in the playoffs one day. Maybe Norval will manage to actually inspire this year’s troops and make everyone forget just how disappointing his tenure has been.
Or maybe the Chargers are moving to Los Angeles and there’s no point to any of this.
It’s a weird time to be a Chargers fan, if you haven’t figured that out yet. This is the first time the team has gotten off to a good start under Turner, but the Bolts haven’t looked great yet either. Quarterback Philip Rivers’ numbers have been especially underwhelming. Plus, there are tons of rumors swirling about ownership looking to move to Los Angeles again, making all this consternation pretty much pointless.
Regardless, all those issues will be running through Chargers fans’ minds when the team kicks off at the Jets on Sunday. Especially the “what-if’s.” Unfortunately, kicker Nate Kaeding won’t be there for a shot at mild redemption for gacking all those potential game-winners since he’s out for the season.