In his new role as NFL Network analyst Ladainian Tomlinson said he sees big changes ahead and Norv Turner & A.J. Smith will be fired if the Chargers don’t reach the playoffs for the third year in a row. Now, I like to take that a step further and state that Norv (and by extension A.J.) need to be out after this season regardless. Personally, I don’t see any scenario in which they should stay. Not even IF the Chargers would miraculously win the Super Bowl, but more on that later.
Did anyone actually watch Norv’s victory locker room speech after the Chiefs game, uploaded on chargers.com earlier this week? I get it, neither did I. From the PR guy’s perspective I understand this move completely. A win is a win, it’s positive momentum, which should be highlighted and appreciated. On the other hand we have to be realistic about it and recognize it was against maybe the worst team in the NFL right now. It doesn’t change anything. As fans we need prove they can produce a win against a good team.
Halfway the season the Chargers are at 4-4, call it a slow start, which seems to be the norm under Norv. It’s not even so much the fact that the team is at 4-4, but the way they got there. The third week loss against the still undefeated Falcons was painful in a way, but at least Atlanta was clearly the better team, on all levels. In contrast, the three other losses could, or should, all have been won. Twice a halftime lead was given away in the fourth quarter, where the entire second half meltdown against Peyton’s Broncos on national TV was the pinnacle of humiliation. If a team can impress in the first half as the Chargers did in both those losses and totally underperform in the second, it can’t be on the players alone. Coaching and game management are not without blame.
All observations and frustrations about Norv from previous years I’ve already read and seen again this year. His playcalling is too predictable, too conservative, inflexible game planning, bad or wrong utilization of players and talents, you name it. Many personnel changes were made in the offseason, A.J. was even praised for all the acquisitions he made in free agency, and here we are again reliving the same discussions.
Not to say, emphasis has been on the defense and they’ve really improved, but as I recall many fans were very enthusiastic about Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal too. Why they are disappointing so far is another topic for another article. Those who keep complaining Vincent Jackson would’ve made all the difference I’d like to remind that the last two years the playoffs were missed with VJ. Just saying. Many things can happen from here until the end of the season. It seems a no-brainer that Norv and A.J. will be fired if the playoffs are missed yet again. Now, lets take a look at scenarios in which the Chargers will reach the playoffs this year.
Assume the Chargers keep struggling, but somehow make it to the postseason. Whether they win the division, another Denver breakdown will be necessary, or be one of the wildcard teams, is not even relevant. In January they lose in the first or second round, add another 2008. More exciting, the Chargers go on an impressive win streak in November and December, beating the Broncos for the division, but fail early in the playoffs. Add another 2009. Should they make it to the AFC Championship game and lose there, add another 2007. See my point, repetition of seasons and a Norv lead Chargers team not being able to show up in those big games when it matters most. No reason to expect change and keep this current coach.
Best scenario will be one in which our beloved Bolts make it to the Super Bowl. Norv will be credited. At the same time, if they can’t win the argument I concluded my last paragraph with will surely pop up too and the younger generation of fans will have their own equivalent of the 1994 season. For older fans it will be even more frustrating. Norv can leave with a prize however, the AFC Championship, move on and so can the franchise.
THE SAN DIEGO CHARGERS WIN THE SUPER BOWL FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THEIR EXISTENCE! Norv has finally managed to lead the team to the ultimate prize, one he won’t be able to improve. It will be a perfect ending of an era. A.J. Smith can waive the Chargers goodbye as a ‘Lord with a Ring’. Everybody happy.
Dean Spanos is a smart guy. I have faith he can figure this out. I’m going to lean back and relax, knowing there’s no scenario that justifies keeping Norv (and A.J.), look forward to the next chapter in the San Diego Chargers franchise, and enjoy the remaining games of this season as they come. Something I can highly recommend.