San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner has capitalized on an emphasis on continuity and late-season pushes to build his most successful NFL head coaching venture in his five-plus-year tenure with the franchise.
But too much inconsistency and volatility in the team's performance will likely have him fired at the end of the season in a prospective move that's best for both sides.
A report by Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune confirms the notion that Turner and general manager A.J. Smith will be fired at the end of the year:
Sources said this week that Chargers President Dean Spanos essentially decided at least a month ago that Turner’s time was drawing to a rapid close. Spanos, sources said, has more recently resigned himself to the fact that Smith can’t be kept in the current environment of plummeting performance and fan unrest.
It has been a turbulent time for Turner in San Diego to say the least. After taking over in 2007 and finding instantaneous success in guiding the Chargers to the AFC championship game, it has gone downhill.
That's relatively speaking of course—as two division titles in the subsequent two years indicate. However, this will in all likelihood be the third year in a row the talented bunch of Chargers are ultimately on the outside looking in at the AFC playoff picture.
A combination of things have turned the tables on Turner. Whatever was working originally in the schematics of Turner's vertical passing game has been snuffed out by opposing defensive coordinators. Philip Rivers—widely hailed as an elite QB—has performed in a manner the past two seasons that would indicate he simply isn't.
Rivers is suddenly very mistake-prone, on pace for his second consecutive 20-interception campaign. But that's not all that has hurt. The departure of dynamic RB Darren Sproles and the decline and departure of Chargers legend LaDainian Tomlinson has left the running game with much to be desired.
Tight end Antonio Gates was the first player to make future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez not look like a total outlier, as the position has exploded into one of the most important in all elite passing offenses. Gates isn't the same player he once was, and Vincent Jackson is proving in Tampa Bay that he is indeed a legitimate No. 1 receiver that should have stayed put to help Rivers out.
Smith even let versatile fullback/halfback Mike Tolbert walk in free agency.
So for the side of the ball that Turner is a renowned genius on, his GM managed to lose so many of the key personnel that made his first few years a raging success.
Oh, and don't forget the disastrous acquisition of WR Robert Meachem, which has been softened somewhat by the last-resort pickup of Danario Alexander, who is turning into a stud.
The defense has remained relatively stable despite the departure of former coordinator Ron Rivera to take the head job with the Carolina Panthers. But the turnovers on the field and the turnover in personnel on offense have been too much to overcome.
Whatever magic Smith may have initially had as a GM has faded in recent years—and it has dearly cost the product Turner has put on the field. But Turner is the one responsible for winning games, and he has enough talent on the roster to do so. For whatever reason, this batch of Chargers simply can't get it done.
The Chargers are without an identity, a Lombardi Trophy and an explanation for why either of which is the case when things looked so promising when Turner first took the reins.
This is signed, sealed, delivered and done. Addition by subtraction, one step back to take two steps forward...whatever you want to call it.
The current Chargers in charge must be replaced for the team to move on from three years of massive disappointment.
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