Chargers-Ravens: Norv Makes the Dumbest Play Call in Sports History

Ian PhilipAnalyst IIISeptember 21, 2009

SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 04:  Head coach Norv Turner of the San Diego Chargers walks on the sidelines in the game with  the San Francisco 49ers on September 4, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  The Chargers won 26-7. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Thus far his team has featured (LaDainian) Tomlinson running wild and (Drew) Brees helping lead an offense that has a 91.3 percentage rate of scoring in the Red Zone -- no wonder Schottenheimer calls that the Gold Zone.

-Thomas George, New York Times, Nov. 3, 2002

Boy. One thing is obvious, and I've been saying this for three years now, San Diego Chargers Norv Turner needs to give up the offensive play calling. He is terrible.

Since the Chargers lost, we get to strip that Oakland Raider style lipstick from the pig, before she gets a chance to put it on.

I predicted that the Chargers would pass the Ravens' old and slow defense out of the stadium, which they did, but Norv Turner (and that horrible first half defense) keep inviting the Ravens back in.

Every year, I write articles about how big a moron Norv Turner is, and then have to retract my statements at the end of the year.

Not this time.

He was mentally over-matched by Ray Lewis and the Ravens' defense, because he out thought himself. 

With this offense, the points could go through the roof if the play calling was better. When is Norv going to learn that you can move the ball less and still win with red-zone efficiency?

If not by now, never.

When Cameron was the offensive coordinator in San Diego, the Chargers may not have gained as many yards as some of the top offenses, yet they still scored more points, in part because they almost always came away with a touchdown in the red zone.

The other parts were not turning the ball over and winning the field position battle.

For all the negative talk about Martyball, the Gold Zone was one of this founding principles and one that Turner (with his huge ego) has neglected.

I've said it, and said it, and said it—one day Norv will be passed along the message—the red zone is the gold zone. The gold zone is where you win games.

When Norv Turner was the offensive coordinator of the Chargers, the Chargers moved the ball into the red zone more frequently than any other team in the league, other than the St. Louis Rams, but Norv's attack frequently bogged down in the red zone.

Just like today, and just like the last three seasons under Norv Turner. 

When Cam Cameron took over, they evolved into an offense that generally led the league in Gold Zone efficiency and was a top-five scoring offense for three straight years.

Cameron's run ended when he left to be the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, but not before the Bolts led the league with 496 points. That figure would have been much higher had the Chargers not shut down the starters in several games.

This wasn't just because of Cameron, it was also because Marty Schottenheimer wouldn't accept either turnovers or lack of red/gold zone production—the two things that did the Chargers in today.

Norv Turner takes back over the offense in 2007, and what happens? Red zone success slowly declines, because the Chargers aren't emphasizing it in practice.

Guess who is? The Baltimore Ravens with Cam Cameron. Cameron gets it. 

Had Turner's bruised ego not forced him to leave the Chargers when Marty got Chargers the job over him, he would have learned the importance of red zone efficiency from the Gold Zone Master.

To be fair, without LaDainian Tomlinson, the offense's red zone success has always plummeted, but nothing like we saw today.

Five red zone trips and no touchdowns? That is simply bad play calling on the part of the offensive play caller: Norv Turner. The Ravens aren't that good. One touchdown was all the Bolts needed to have a chance to win it at the end.

The Ravens' defense is solid, but Turner was trying things on third down that he should have been trying on first down.

That delay of the game at the end of the first half at the one inch line of the Ravens was atrocious, and the result of Norv Turner thinking too much.

Rivers should have been quarterback sneaking that ball as soon as the ball was in play. Instead, guys are in motion, trying too fool Ray Lewis who can't be fooled at this point in his career.

That run on 4th-and-2 to end the game? That was one of the worst calls I've seen in my entire history of watching sports.

That was a call than an 11 year old, whose coaching experience is limited to Madden 2010, would not have called.

Here is what Norv was mentally faced with:

  1. Sproles has repeatedly shown that he is not an NFL caliber starting running back. He is an exciting and valuable role player, nothing more.
  2. Michael Bennett was retained to replace Tomlinson if he should get injured, and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry to Sprole's 2.8.
  3. Run blocking is more difficult than pass blocking and you've got two back-ups, playing out of position no less, in the middle of your offensive line.
  4. The Ravens defense has had very little success stopping the pass even when they know it's coming.
  5. Your best player is Philip Rivers.

With this in mind, Norv Turner calls a Sproles run into the teeth of the Ravens' defense. Like Junior Seau in the 2007 AFC Championship game, Ray Lewis is not fooled. He steam rolls Sproles as soon as he gets the ball.

Game Over.

That's what happens when you try to be the head coach and offensive coordinator at the same time. Does Norv want to be a head coach, or have his fun calling offensive plays?

This is not Madden. Give up the play calling Norv.

Forget about the injuries. I don't care who missed the game. Norv Turner's outlandish play calling was a travesty. A joke.

Rivers could have called the plays himself and thrown for 400 yards against this lead-footed defense.

I haven't seen play calling this bad since Cam Cameron called what seemed 50 straight run plays in the middle of the Ravens' defense in 2006.

With some red zone production, this offense could easily score over 500 points. With Norv Turner calling the plays, expect somewhere in the 400 range.

Turner has never, emphasized red zone efficiency and he never will. The guy just doesn't get it.

You can beat the Raiders five times in a row playing like that, but you can't beat the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, or Ravens that way.

I don't care what the Chargers do for the rest of the year-even winning the Super Bowl. The fool tag sticks on Norv this season.

When have you heard of the Super Bowl Champions having a coach that calls the offensive or defensive plays?

The Steelers, Patriots, Colts, and Giants' head coaches do just that. Head coach.

They don't call plays and distract themselves during the game only to make dumb calls like asking Sproles to do something outside of his skill set with the game on the line.

Quit being a fool. Give up the play calling, Norv.


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