Taking A Look At Norv’s Playcalling

Source- Getty Images

“Norv Turner is the best offensive play-caller in football… not even close.”  This was a tweet posted by Troy Aikman on October 7th. Many so-called “experts” in the media share Aikman’s view about the San Diego Chargers Head Coach. Turner earned this respect many years ago while guiding the Dallas Cowboys’ offense during the Troy Aikman/Michael Irvin/Emmitt Smith era. However, many Bolts fans – myself included – have spent the past few years scratching their heads at Turner’s playcalling at critical moments of Chargers games. I’ve decided that I will take a much closer look at Norv’s playcalling for the rest of the season, starting with this week’s matchup with the Buccaneers. Being a head coach in the NFL requires the highest levels of organizational skill and teaching ability, as well as clear thinking and sound judgement on gameday. If Turner truly is on the “hot seat,” it seems only fair to examine this aspect of his responsibilities. After all, a team can be mentally and physically ready to play, but if the wrong type of play is called for a specific situation, it is all for nought. I often find myself questioning Norv’s play decisions at least a half dozen times a game. Therefore, I respectfully offer my readers the following description of every offensive play call from the Bolts’ last game…

Source- Getty Images

The format I will use is as follows:

Score; Down & Distance; Field Position; Type of Play Called; Positive/Negative Yardage Gained/Lost; Any Special Note for the Play.

1st Quarter

  • 0-0; 1st & 10; SD 20; Pass- swing to 24; +0 yards (incomplete)
  • 0-0; 2nd & 10; SD 20; Run- left end (24); +0 yards
  • 0-0; 3rd & 10; SD 20; Pass- slant to 84; +80 yards- TOUCHDOWN!; D. Alexander breaks tackle and takes it to the house!!
  • (BUCS march down the field and score TD on 4 yard Pass from Freeman to Clark.)
  • 7-7; 1st & 10; SD 20; Pass- swing to 24; -1 yard
  • 7-7; 2nd & 11; SD 19; Pass- deep middle to 80; +22 yards
  • 7-7; 1st & 10; SD 41; Pass called- Rivers scrambles; +4 yards
  • 7-7; 2nd & 6; SD 45; Run- middle (24); +0 yards
  • 7-7; 3rd & 6; SD 45; Pass- middle to 85; +0 (incomplete); DEF HOLDING on Bucs (5 yards and automatic 1st down!)
  • 7-7; 1st & 10; Midfield; Pass- deep middle to 85; +33 yards
  • 7-7; 1st & 10; TB 17; Run- off-tackle right (24); +4 yards
  • 7-7; 2nd & 7; TB 13; Pass- middle to 85; +13 yards- TOUCHDOWN!; Great pass from Rivers zipped in to a wide open Gates!
  • (BUCS drive stalls, forced to punt)
  • 14-7; 1st & 10; SD 39; Run- left (24); +6 yards
  • 14-7; 2nd & 4; SD 45; Run- middle (24); -1 yard
  • 14-7; 3rd & 5; SD 44; Pass- swing to 30; -2 yards
  • 14-7; 4th & 7; SD 42; Punt…

2nd Quarter

  • (BUCS torch our secondary and move down the field.  Drive stalls.  Connor Barth makes 40 yard field goal.)
  • 14-10; 1st & 10; SD 22; Pass called- sacked!; -4 yards
  • 14-10; 2nd & 14; SD 18; Pass- screen to 30; +5 yards
  • 14-10; 3rd & 9; SD 23; Pass- middle to 84; +14 yards
  • 14-10; 1st & 10; SD 37; Pass- deep right to 85; +0 yards (incomplete); Pass was under thrown…
  • 14-10; 2nd & 10; SD 37; Run- middle (24); +5 yards
  • 14-10; 3rd & 5; SD 42; Pass- right flat to 85; +0 yards
  • 14-10; 4th & 5; SD 42; PUNT BLOCKED!; Returned for a Buccaneer Touchdown
  • 14-17; 1st & 10; SD 20; Run-middle (24); +10 yards
  • 14-17; 1st & 10; SD 30; Run- off-tackle right (24); +3 yards
  • 14-17; 2nd & 7; SD 33; Pass- short middle to 24; +4 yards
  • 14-17; 3rd & 3; SD 37; Pass- left flat to 11; +13 yards
  • 14-17; 1st & 10; midfield; Pass- left flat to 88; + 11 yards; Excellent zip on this pass!
  • 14-17; 1st & 10; TB 39; Run- middle (30); +1 yard
  • 14-17; 2nd & 9; TB 38; Pass- middle to 85; +7 yards
  • 14-17; 3rd & 2; TB 31; Pass right flat to 85; +5 yards
  • 14-17; 1st & 10; TB 26; Run- draw (24); +8 yards; Nice vision and cutback!
  • 14-17; 2nd & 2; TB 18; Run- middle dive (33); +0 yards
  • 14-17; 3rd & 2; TB 18; Pass- right to 80; +4 yards; Nice 3rd down conversion in Red Zone!
  • 14-17; 1st & 10; TB 14; Pass- middle to 24; +8 yards
  • 14-17; 2nd & 2; TB 6; Run- middle (24); +3 yards
  • 14-17; 1st & Goal; TB 3; Pass- slant left to 80; +3 yards- TOUCHDOWN!; Play-action pass fired in to Floyd!
  • (BUCS convert on a 4th & 1…Connect on a long pass to VJax…Bucs score a TD when Freeman hits Underwood.)

3rd Quarter

  •  21-24; 1st & 10; SD 20; Run- left (24); -1 yard; Buc LB Quincy Black suffers serious injury and must be carted off the field.  Very scary.
  • 21-24; 2nd & 11; SD 19; Pass- short left to 80; +2 yards; Tampa blitzed hard on this play…
  • 21-24; 3rd & 9; SD 21; Pass- left to 84; +19 yards; Big conversion!
  • 21- 24; 1st & 10; SD 40; Run- left (24); +3 yards
  • 21-24; 2nd & 7; SD 43; Pass- right to 11; +3 yards
  • 21-24; 3rd & 4; SD 46; Pass- slant right to 84; +6 yards; Another big 3rd down conversion!
  • 21- 24; 1st & 10; TB 48; Pass- right to 80; + 19 yards

4th Quarter

  • 21-24; 1st & 10; TB 29; Run- stretch right (24); +2 yards
  • 21-24; 2nd & 8; TB 27; Pass- swing right to 24; +4 yards
  • 21-24; 3rd & 4; TB 23; Pass- INTERCEPTED, returned 82 yards for a Buccaneer Touchdown!; Pressure forced Rivers to his right where he forced a pass to a covered receiver.  This pick-6 swung all the momentum to Tampa. Clearly, the play of the game.
  • 21-31; 1st & 10; SD 20; Run- middle (24); +10 yards; Very nice cutback!
  • 21-31; 1st & 10; SD 30; Run- left (30); +3 yards
  • 21-31; 2nd & 7; SD 33; Pass- Rivers scrambles; +1 yard; TB pass rush is really heating up now…
  • 21-31; 3rd & 6; SD 34; Pass- deep right to 11; +20 yards; This was luck.  Ball was deflected and Royal came up with the rebound.  We’ll take it!
  • 21-31; 1st & 10; TB 46; Pass- right to 12; +8 yards
  • 21-31; 2nd & 2; TB 38; Run- stretch to the left (24); +1 yard
  • 21-31; 3rd & 1; TB 37; Run- left (44); +21 yards; Huge run for Jackie Battle!
  • 21-31; 1st & 10; TB 16; Pass- left to 24; +5 yards
  • 21-31; 2nd & 5; TB 11; Pass- left to 81; +0 yards
  • 21-31; 3rd & 5; TB 11; Pass- left to 88; +0 yards (incomplete)
  • 21-31; 4th & 5; TB 11; FG attempt- PENALTY (Delay of game…-5 yards)
  • 21-31; 4th & 10; TB 16; FG attempt GOOD; 34 yards- Novak.
  • (BUCS drive stalls, forced to punt.  Bolts get ball back with 3:53 to go down by 7 points…)
  • 24-31; 1st & 10; SD 22; Pass- sacked!; – 10 yards; Left side of OL got blown up!!
  • 24-31; 2nd & 20; SD 12; Pass- deep left- INTERCEPTED!; Under pressure yet again, Rivers throws off back foot to a covered receiver…  This is becoming a habit.
  • (BUCS capitalize off of the turnover and kick a 45 yard FG to stretch the lead to 10 with 1:01 to go…)
  • 24-34; 1st & 10; SD 20; Pass- swing to 33; +5 yards
  • 24-34; 2nd & 5; SD 25; Pass- right; +0 yards (incomplete)
  • 24-34; 3rd & 5; SD 25; Pass- middle to 84; +15 yards
  • 24-34; 1st & 10; SD 40; Pass- right to 80; +12 yards
  • 24 -34; 1st & 10; SD 47; Run- middle (33); +10 yards… GAME OVER.

Final score: Buccaneers 34, Chargers 24

Source- US Presswire

As far as this game goes, it is hard to find fault in Norv’s playcalling. The Buccaneers came in ranked number one against the run so passing was the logical plan of attack. At the half, the Chargers had called 12 runs and 22 passes. That is understandable because Rivers was lighting it up at the time. His stats at halftime were 16 of 18 for 217 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Things were looking pretty good.

Like in previous games, however, the second half was not as kind. Norv’s playcalling stayed consistent, running the ball 11 times and passing 21 times. Rivers’ performance, on the other hand, was anything but consistent. His second half stats were 13 of 19 for 120 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. One of those interceptions was returned for six points and gave the Buccaneers all the momentum they would need to win the game.

After the game, Turner vented his frustration on the media and Chargers fans vented their frustrations through social media. At 4-5, two full games behind the division-leading Broncos, the Bolts’ goose looks all but cooked.  Yet, stranger things have happened for this team in the past. A critical match-up with the aforementioned Broncos lies ahead next week, and with it, a chance to rise from the ashes. Can Norv Turner turn a cooked goose into a glowing phoenix? Only time will tell.

About Ron Rogers

I bleed Chargers Blue and Gold!
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