San Diego Chargers: Can Norv Turner Survive Another Down Year?

Ryan HeidrichCorrespondent IIJuly 2, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 11:  Head coach Norv Turner of the San Diego Chargers speaks  to the media after a minicamp workout on May 11, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images)
Kent Horner/Getty Images


Norv Turner will be entering his sixth season as the San Diego Chargers' head coach. Turner has been involved in coaching since 1975, when he was a graduate assistant at the University of Oregon, but in 2012 he will be under more pressure than arguably at any point in his career.

Many people were shocked when the Chargers announced that Turner would be back following another disappointing season in 2011. This year must be a success for Turner and the Bolts if their partnership wants to continue.

Under Turner, the Chargers are known for their slow starts and midseason lulls. This must be changed if the Chargers want to have a successful season and make a postseason run in 2012. I say postseason run because the playoffs are the benchmark that Turner and the Bolts will be held to.

The Chargers' lineup is strong enough to make the playoffs. It would be extremely surprising to see the Chargers make a Super Bowl run, but they should win the division or a wild card position at least.

Although the Chargers were dealt with a rough hand last year with all the injuries, it is no excuse for the Bolts to lose six games in a row like they did in 2011. The Chargers actually got off to a strong start in 2011, starting 4-1 before the bye week. Most teams use the bye week in order to get better and rested, but the Chargers were neither and they ran into their midseason lull in 2011, losing six straight.

This is what I thought would cost Turner his job following the season, but just like the Chargers do every year, they figured it out in December. If the Chargers could just play as well the rest of the season as they do in December, they would coast to an AFC West crown every year. Under Turner, the Chargers are 13-3 in December games.

Norv Turner must have a positive season if he wants to return as head coach of the Chargers. With the chance that the Chargers might make the move up the California coast to Los Angeles, you can bet if Norv Turner does not get the Chargers into the playoffs, he will be fired. 

If the Chargers do in fact move to Los Angeles, Chargers CEO Dean Spanos will want to start fresh, and if the Chargers miss the playoffs for the third straight year in 2012, Turner will be done.

You could argue that the Chargers are one the most disappointing teams in the last five seasons in the NFL. Every year the Chargers are early season favorites to win the AFC West and even sometimes the Super Bowl, and yet every year they come up short. Even when the Chargers do make the playoffs the majority of their appearances have ended up horrible. 

None was worse than the 2009 season when the Chargers finished the year 13-3 and the second seed in the AFC, earning themselves a bye. They hosted the No. 5 seed New York Jets, and after a couple of interceptions, only 61 yards rushing and three missed field goals by Nate Kaeding, the Chargers were done, losing 17-14.

That was the last season that Chargers have made the postseason, and every year the Norv Turner hatred rises for Chargers fans. Every year the calls for Turner’s job gets louder and louder, and it finally bubbled over after the 2011 season.

Charger fans were done; they were finished with Norv Turner, and ready for change. However, Spanos was not and he decided that it would be in the team's best interest to bring Turner back, because he thinks Turner gives this team the best shot to win football games.

With that said, the Chargers must get off to a strong start in 2012, which will feature two important away division games at Oakland and Kansas City. Then the Chargers must play well during weeks 11-14, which features away games at the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers and home games against the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals, four teams who made the postseason in 2011.

If the Chargers can play December-like football during the whole season, Norv could earn another year with the Chargers, but if not the Norv Turner era will be finished.