5 Top Candidates to Replace Norv Turner as San Diego Chargers Coach

Ryan Heidrich@@Ryan_HeidrichCorrespondent IIDecember 31, 2012

5 Top Candidates to Replace Norv Turner as San Diego Chargers Coach

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    ­The 2012 San Diego Chargers’ season is finally over. It was not the season that the organization or the fans hoped it would be, and it ultimately cost Norv Turner his job as head coach of the Chargers.

    Many around the league were shocked when Turner was brought back for the 2012 season following a terrible 2011 season. Chargers owner Dean Spanos gave Turner a second chance, and it did not work out.

    With news coming out of San Diego that the Chargers have also fired general manager A.J. Smith, big changes are on the horizon for the Chargers. Many expect current Chargers director of player personnel Jimmy Raye to take over control as general manager.

    Raye’s first task will be hiring Turner’s replacement. The job will be one of the best available, as the Chargers are just a couple of pieces away from being serious playoff contenders. Because of this, the Chargers will have their pick of the best as Raye and Spanos look to get the Chargers franchise back on track.

    Here are a couple of very promising candidates to replace Norv Turner.

Bruce Arians

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    Bruce Arians should be the first coach to receive a call from the Chargers.

    The former Pittsburgh Steelers coordinator and current Indianapolis Colts assistant coach should win Coach of the Year this season. The job he did filling in for Chuck Pagano was incredible and worthy of landing a full-time head-coaching job.

    Only name I know for sure been seriously discussed @ Chargers Park to this point is Bruce Arians ... I am told Ken Whisenhunt is interested.

    — UTKevinAcee (@UTKevinAcee) December 31, 2012

    Arians is a great offensive mind that would be a great match to work with Philip Rivers and the offensive weapons that the Chargers currently have in place. The job he did with Andrew Luck and the rest of the Colts offense should grab the Chargers' attention right away.

    Another reason the Chargers should go after Arians is his strong relationship with the Pagano family. John Pagano is the current defensive coordinator for the Chargers, and he did an excellent job this year. It would be great for the Chargers to keep Pagano in-house. He would be familiar with the personnel, and the Chargers would not need to change any of their schemes.

    Arians would be a perfect fit for the Chargers, and CEO Dean Spanos should on the phone as soon as possible trying to get Arians in San Diego. 

Jon Gruden

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    Jon Gruden is going to be a name that will be floated around San Diego by fans as the Chargers voice their opinion about the coaching vacancy.

    Gruden is a great coach who has won a Super Bowl and has coached in the AFC West. Those two reasons make him a perfect candidate for the job. To make matters more promising, it seems Gruden is finally interested in getting back into coaching

    Gruden is basically the opposite of Norv Turner. He is a fiery coach who is not afraid to show his emotion, two things that Turner did not do. Gruden is another offensive mind that could come in and turn things around in San Diego.

    There is no way that Gruden would put up with the undisciplined play the Chargers showed this season.

    Gruden has expressed his love of Philip Rivers. Gruden and Rivers would be a perfect match for each other. Their competitiveness combined would be a great example for the rest of the team. 

    The only thing that is holding Gruden back from San Diego is the firing of A.J. Smith. Smith and Gruden have a tight connection, and with Smith out of town, it will be difficult to lure Gruden out of the announcing booth. Gruden is worth the chance and would be a great coach in San Diego.

Steve Mariucci

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    Steve Mariucci last coached in the NFL in 2005, when he was the head coach of the Detroit Lions. The current NFL Network personality would be a great fit in San Diego. He has coached all over California as the head coach of the California Bears and the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

    The offensive guru has been linked to the Chargers job, but he dismissed that talk because his friend, Norv Turner, was still coaching. There is no doubt that Mariucci would be willing to coach again. His name has been associated with numerous jobs since he left coaching in 2005. 

    Mariucci would be able to assemble a great staff due to his numerous connections throughout the coaching realms. Mariucci would need to assemble a great defensive staff to go alongside his West Coast-style offense that Philip Rivers would flourish in.  

    The knock on Mariucci would be his lack of postseason success. He has only been to the postseason four times, compiling a career 3-4 postseason record.  This may be reason for Spanos to look past Mariucci, but his ability to create a dynamic offense in San Diego is appealing. 

Mike Zimmer

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    Mike Zimmer is one of the most popular coordinators in the NFL. Zimmer, the current defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals, has done a great job and has earned the right to be a head coach in the NFL.

    Much like Jon Gruden, Zimmer is a fiery coach who would arrive in San Diego and immediately light a fire under the players and the organization.

    The work that Zimmer has done in Cincinnati is remarkable. He took over for the Bengals in 2008, took a defense that was lackluster and turned it into a promising and respectable top-10 defense. The work that Zimmer could do with the Chargers defense would be great.

    The cloud hovering over Zimmer would be his ability to bring in an offensive mind to go along with his defense. Despite this concern, his ability to get on players and demand that they perform at their highest level is reason alone that the Chargers should bring Zimmer in.  

    One of the biggest problems with Norv Turner was that the Chargers never played up to their potential. With Zimmer at the helm, this would never be an issue. 

Bill O'Brien

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    Bill O’Brien is going to be a name that is discussed in various coaching searches. O’Brien, who has been at Penn State for just one year, did a tremendous job navigating the Nittany Lions through an extremely tough job.    

    O’Brien is a great offensive mind who spent time under Bill Belichick from 2007-2011. O’Brien is in his first head coaching job but has immense experience in coaching.  

    What stands out with O’Brien is his ability to get the job done despite numerous distractions. If things are not going right, O’Brien is the man you want navigating your team. Just look at what he has done at Penn State and all the drama that has surrounded the university in the past year.

    O’Brien is a loyal coach, which will make it extremely difficult to lure him away from Penn State. But for someone who has coached in the NFL for seven years, there is always a desire to come back to the most popular league in America.

    The Chargers should definitely test out O'Brien's interest in returning to the NFL.