San Diego Chargers: Will 2012 Be Norv Turner's Last Season?
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Some of us may have thought that Norv Turner would've been on his way out last season. After ending the season with an 8-8 record and failing to make the playoffs, the San Diego Chargers head coach was on the hot seat.
It seems now, that despite how well the Chargers improve from last season, if they don't make it to the Super Bowl next season there's no reason to think that Turner will be around for the 2013 season.
For a good amount of his career in San Diego, Turner has been fortunate enough to not share the same fate as former Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer. After Schottenheimer's 12-4 season, the Chargers surprised everyone by not bringing him back for another season. Instead, they hired Turner.
Schottenheimer was fired because of his inability to bring the Lombardi Trophy to San Diego, which is something that Turner has yet to do himself. The only difference between the two coaches is that Turner has had several more opportunities to do so, including the 2012 season.
For one thing, getting to playoffs itself will be much more difficult. The AFC West has managed to get more competitive with Peyton Manning now a part of it. The Denver Broncos won the division last year and there may be a good chance that they'll win it again.
The Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders, on the other hand, shouldn't be much of a factor yet. Both of these teams will have newer head coaches, who have yet to prove themselves. Although there have been some recent cases of new head coaches making a huge difference in their first year (take Jim Harbaugh for instance), I still think that the Broncos are the division favorites.
And there's the issue of trying to win the wild card. But even this is hard to do in the AFC. There are plenty of good teams in the AFC and it'll be difficult to keep up with all of them. The AFC North alone managed to snag both wild-card spots in 2011.
There's another reason why Turner's long-term future in San Diego may be in doubt. Take, for instance, the significant changes made on the Chargers roster.
Turner's players are either getting older and/or moving on to other teams. While Antonio Gates seems to be dealing with his share of injuries and a slight decline in his overall performance, Vincent Jackson and Mike Tolbert have moved on to other teams. Such changes are likely to have some huge effects on the Chargers' No. 1 guy, Philip Rivers.
Rivers needs some new targets after losing Tolbert and Jackson in the offseason. Keep in mind that the Chargers gave up Darren Sproles before the 2011 season and we all saw the negative effects of that. And the Chargers have yet to find an answer for that loss.
Though the Chargers added Robert Meachem and Vincent Brown has shown some signs of becoming an effective target, San Diego may still have some struggles on offense.
Hopefully, for the team's sake, Meachem, Brown and some other players can step up. Rivers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but he can't win games all by himself.
On the other hand, it should be noted that the Chargers did make some crucial additions to their roster. Through the draft, the Chargers have added some pieces in hopes of upgrading their defense, which was an area they definitely needed to upgrade. Guys like Melvin Ingram, Kendall Reyes and Brandon Taylor should definitely make some improvements.
But we've yet to see if the Chargers have really made some improvements on their offense. This area might be the most important, as it'll decide not only how well the Chargers do in the AFC West, but also whether Turner gets to coach in San Diego for another year after the 2012 season.
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