Why A.J. Smith, Not Norv Turner, Is to Blame for Chargers Problems

Chris TrapassoAnalyst INovember 2, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 18:  San Diego Chargers Gerneral Manager A.J. Smith attends LaDainian Tomlinson's announcement of his retirement from professional football, after signing a one-day contract with the San Diego Chargers and being immediately released by the club, on June 18, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images)
Kent Horner/Getty Images

Norv Turner certainly hasn't been a coaching mastermind during his tenure with the San Diego Chargers, but let's not place all the blame on him for the sporadic nature of his team. 

General manager A.J. Smith is majorly responsible, too.

He actually has been the root of the problem.

He said so himself. 

Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego quoted Smith in mid-October after consecutive losses:

“I take full responsibility for the present mess this team is in at this point in time. The construction and direction of this organization is on my watch. In the next 10 games we will either rally and see a slow, steady rise from the ashes to a division championship – or the beginning of a new era in Chargers’ football.” 

A general rule of thumb in the NFL: the GM is typically the foundational reason why an organization flourishes or struggles, and in San Diego's case, Smith undeniably hasn't helped. 

Here's why. 

Over the last three years, LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Cromartie, Darren Sproles and Vincent Jackson have all left on Smith's watch, and frankly, he hasn't adequately replaced those stars. 

Ryan Mathews, thought supremely talented, has been a general disappointment at the running back spot. 

No Darren Sproles successor has been acquired. 

A cornerback with the playmaking ability of Cromartie hasn't been uncovered. Robert Meachem has flopped. Although to be fair, the injury bug hasn't been kind to Mathews and wideout Vincent Brown.

By and large, recent drafts haven't panned out. 

Those mid-to-late 2000s Chargers were unquestionably loaded with top talent, thanks in large part to the players who've departed since 2010.

Now, Turner isn't a brilliant game manager and can make some highly questionable decisions from time to time, but when you step back and look at the job Smith's done since 2010, the word "questionable" resurfaces. 

Turner can only do so much with the talent Smith has provided him. 

Sure, a win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night was somewhat encouraging for a team coming off three straight losses, but any long-term deficiencies with the Chargers are on Smith more than everyone thinks.