Chargers: Norv Turner Has Been a Better Than Average Coach in San Diego

Ian PhilipAnalyst IIINovember 21, 2009

After the Chargers totally blew that game against the Baltimore Ravens this season, I wrote the following:

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.

Now I find myself defending Norv to folks who really don't know what they hell they're talking about.

You constantly hear about how the Chargers handed Norv the keys to a 14-2 team and there was a fall off the next year because of Norv.

I may have even said the same thing myself, but it was a stupid statement.

Since 1999, only one team that finished 14-2 or better equaled that record the following year:

1999 Jacksonville Jaguars 14-2
2000 Jacksonville Jaguars 7-9

2001 St. Louis Rams 14-2
2002 St. Louis Rams 7-9

2003 New England Patriots 14-2
2004 New England Patriots 14-2
2005 New England Patriots 10-6

2004 Pittsburgh Steelers 15-1
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5

2005 Indianapolis Colts 14-2
2006 Indianapolis Colts 12-4

2006 San Diego Chargers 14-2
2007 San Diego Chargers 11-5

2007 New England Patriots 16-0
2008 New England Patriots 11-5

When the Chargers fell back to earth and went 11-5 the next season, it was no different than other teams who kept the same coach the next season.

The team still made it to the AFC Championship Game despite injuries to Nate Kaeding, Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, Shawne Merriman, Jamal Williams, and Antonio Gates.

I remember the Chargers blowing that 2006-2007 game against the New England Patriots and losing my mind.

We all know Marty had to go after that. Norv Turner has NEVER gone 'one and done' in the play-offs. Marty went one and done at home with both a 12-4 and 14-2 team.

Like it or not, Norv has won the AFC West two seasons in a row. People like to say that it's because the Denver Broncos keep choking, but the fact is Norv has not had a bad season yet in San Diego. The slow starts are just frustrating, but the fast finishes are excellent.

Despite the 8-8 finish, Norv did some amazing coaching in 2008. Anytime a team starts out 4-8, due to injuries, it's acceptable in other cities for the team to just hang it up and get 'em next year.

In San Diego, under the historic guidance of guys like Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison, it is not.

Norv Turner's even keel and belief in his system has been a steadying influence that has resulted in a team that puts it all together from about mid-season on.

When Norv was hired, that's what he guaranteed. The team would be playing its best football at the end of the season, and that is what has happened.

When you hear this nonsense about Norv's terrible reign has the Raiders head coach, keep one thing in mind. Who the hell has won in Oakland since Rich Gannon, Tyrone Wheatley, Jerry Rice, and Tim Brown got old in a hurry?

No one, so get that out of your mind.

Turner was with the Washington Redskins seven seasons. He had a winning record in four of those seven seasons.

If you throw out the first two years, which were CLEARLY rebuilding years, Norv only had one losing season in Washington. Even Bill Cowher had losing years with the Steelers.

When Norv got the steel toe boot in Washington in 2000, the team was 7-6. They finished 8-8. Norv was replaced by none other than the beloved Marty Schottenheimer, who was promptly fired in 2001 after a second straight 8-8 season which started off with a disastrous 30-3 pounding by the San Diego Chargers; whose offense was coached by Norv Turner.

Funny thing is, Marty then beat Norv out for the head coaching job in San Diego in 2002, but kept Norv's offense after Norv refused to stay on as offensive coordinator.

Then Norv replaced Marty as the head coach in San Diego in 2007.

Norv really only drives us insane because the Chargers' slow starts, but keep this in mind when you are throwing your fit along with myself:

2007 11-5: The team had to get used to the new coaching staff. The team started off a mediocre 5-5. Once the team came together, however, I'm sure we can agree that the 2007 Chargers where one of the best teams to come around in a while until injuries derailed what may have been a Super Bowl Championship season.

2008 8-8: The injuries from 2007 carried over to the start of the 2008 season. Coupled with a last second TD pass from Jake Delhomme of the Carolina Panthers and two ridiculously blown calls by Ed Hochuli, the Chargers had to claw their way out of an 0-2 start. Once again, the team rallied and took down the Colts in the playoffs.

2009 6-3: None of us has ever experienced the rash of injuries like we did in San Diego to start the season after the team finished the pre-season in great health. With injuries to Ryon Bingham, Tomlinson, Williams, Jacques Cesaire, Merriman, Phillips, and on and on, the Bolts once again stumbled out of the gates 2-3. They have proceeded to win four in a row for the sixth straight season and are back in the AFC West title hunt.

So remember, Norv hasn't let the Chargers flop yet. Would you rather the Bolts be 12-4 or 14-2 and lose the first playoff game every year or at least winning in the playoffs?

The Chargers just need some breaks to fall their way. The window is not closing on San Diego. Not at all.