1-2 Chargers Failure Is No Surprise
The Chargers are now 1-2 after losing to Green Bay yesterday. They have also lost to New England 14-38 and beaten Chicago 14-3. The have gone from one of the league’s top offenses to one of the bottom 10. There’s nothing surprising about it, though. Since Norv Turner took over as coach, it was painfully obvious that the only thing seperating them from the AFC West cellar was the Oakland Raiders. That said, I would like to present my original column on Turners’ hiring, written last spring. I’m doing this not only because I love to glorify myself and my correct predictions, but also because it has a lot of commentary that is still relavent to the Chargers today.
When the Arizona Cardinals fired Dennis Green last January, the team said they were rebuilding. So what were the San Diego Chargers doing when they fired Marty Schottenheimer? Deconstructing?
Schottenheimer, coming off a 14-2 season, has a 200-136-1 career record. In the past five years, he has coached the Chargers to a 47-33 mark. The only knock on him is that he can’t win playoff games. In fact, the last time he recorded a playoff victory, the President was contemplating what to do about the attack on the World Trade Center. Keep in mind that the president then was Clinton.
So if Schottenheimer’s 5-13 playoff record was the reason that the Chargers fired him, they did the right thing. Because, if you can be sure of one thing about their new coach, it’s this: He certainly won’t lose any playoff games.
Norv Turner is their new coach, and while he might not have the career accolades that Schottenheimer does, there are many things impressive about him, too. For instance, no one else has ever been rewarded with such a highly coveted job after coaching as poorly as he has for so many years.
Of course with a team like the Chargers, an average coach could get them into the playoffs no problem and win at least one game, so what’s the worry? See, Turner isn’t exactly average. Average is 50%. Turner is 38% (58-82-1 career record).
Turner’s favorite pose: disappointment.
I have a hard time seeing how this coaching change will work. After all, Schottenheimer did go 12-4 in 2004 and 9-7 in ’05 with Drew Brees at quarterback, then 14-2 in his first season with Phillip Rivers starting. General Manager A.J. Smith must have liked what he saw, because he gave Marty a quick Schott in the back and boot out the door following the season—well, not quick exactly; he waited until every other head coaching vacancy was filled and until the Chargers had lost their two coordinators and two assistants to other teams.
Then he used the fact that all the assistants left against Schottenheimer in the press conference. (Take a break here because the lack of logic coming up might get confusing.) The general manager is mad at the coach because four assistants left the coaching staff. The GM is in charge of hiring all the coaches and giving them permission to seek jobs with other teams. He’s also apparently in charge of finding scapegoats.
Now after blaming his mistake on Schottenheimer, A.J. Smith proposes a pragmatic solution to the problem. If four assistant coaches left, the best way to combat the problem is to fire another coach. I’ll let John Madden explain the logic behind that because I sure can’t.
The questions at the beginning of Smith’s press conference on the firing started off kind of tame, like, “What kind of an idiot are you, firing Schottenheimer after a 14-2 season?” but by the time Smith had explained his reasoning, they changed to “How does an idiot like you get a general manager job? Can I get one?”
Allow me to cut through the rhetoric. Schottenheimer was fired for the same reason that Jerry Jones fired Jimmy Johnson after two Super Bowl wins in 1993. Ever since Smith took the job in ’03 Schottenheimer there was always tension between the two because both were so power hungry. As Schotty said after the affair, “We’ve never been on speaking terms.”
Turner is most effective when he has his headset off and isn’t able to get his worthless play calls to the QB.
If Smith had a good candidate in mind for head coach and had reason to believe that his strained relationship with Schott was hurting the team, than it would make sense to fire him, but I can hardly see how a 35-13 record over three years is evidence of chemistry problems. They had been winning together for three years, then, after the hiring season had ended, no less, Smith decided to pull the plug. He could have at least fired him early so that he could have promoted offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to the head job.
Cameron has helped turn the voltage up for this Chargers offense that has ranked among the top five in each of the last three seasons. He and Schottenheimer turned Phillip Rivers into a top ten quarterback in just his first year starting. Schotteneheimer has a long history of QB success including Bernie Kosar and Rich Gannon, along with Brees and Rivers. (Heck, he even got good quarterback play out of the running back position with Ladainian Tomlinson.)
Turner, on the other hand, can’t tell a quarterback from loose change. When someone mentions the hail mary to him, he goes to church. That is, until he realizes that it involves a deep bomb then he runs for cover. He once joined the NRA to improve his shotgun formation. The alleged “quarterbacks” he has produced include Alex Smith, Jay Fiedler, Gus Frerote, and Jeff George. Donovan McNabb’s projectile vomit looks prettier than those guys’ passes.
You have to cut the guy some slack, though. The Chargers weren’t that great of a team is 2001 when he helped them finish 5-11 as offensive coordinator. He wasn’t the one who signed a near-retirement Doug Flutie onto the team, who combined with a young Brees, to throw 16 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He did inherit a pretty bad Raiders team in 2004, and after the job he did with them, he has some hope that the Chargers don’t finish dead last in the division next season.
This is the first year that he has taken over a team that was already good, and you can be sure it will be the last year that they are good.
What do you think? Post your opinion in the comment section.
Sign Up To Recieve Free Unpublished Content.
Popularity: 3% [?]