The Chargers are a great team. Riding high off an eleven game winning streak and into a first round bye in the AFC Playoffs. They're peaking at exactly the right moment to have insiders and pundits nodding and scribbling sage entries about how the Bolts are the team to beat in the AFC; which they are.
The problem isn't the well-earned notice the surging Chargers are receiving. The problem is that Norv Turner and his deserved reputation as an unexceptional Head Coach are getting sucked into the gravitational pull of the Charger's positive media vortex.
Here's the headline that the local media will gloss over and the national media will miss.
Norv Turner is Still an Unexceptional Head Coach.
The open secret is that the Chargers have had the talent and depth for legitimate Super Bowl runs for the past few years. The results have been disastrously obvious. Equally unexceptional Marty Schottenheimer (known among fans as "The Limo Driver" for his ability to get you to the dance but not onto the dance-floor), was the first to drive the Chargers Ferrari roster like a little-old-lady in the fast-lane. After riding along for the league best 14-2 trip (the last few games of which, he finally unclenched for), Schottenheimer reverted to his early season gear-grinding and drove the Chargers right into a concrete barrier called the Patriots.
What happened weeks later was an administrative debacle. The Chargers' coordinators were spirited away, and the Chargers front-office got caught with their pants down. They sacked Marty but many of the best available coaching talents had already been snapped up.
What happened next was "Limo Driver II: The Return of Limo Driver." The Chargers hired what everyone agreed was a stop-gap coach, at best, and tossed the keys to the Ferrari to yet another little old lady, Norv Turner.
It should be noted here that the Spanos family loves the San Diego market, but only on paper. They check-off all the right charity boxes and feed the media the cliches the city wants to hear, but the truth is, the Spanos family has never been about winning for winning's sake.
They are Stadium speculators that have been waiting years for a return on their investment, but the planets never seem to align for them. For the last decade they have done everything in their power to mail-it-in or to openly court the disdain of the fan-base. (Think, owner Rachel Phelps from the movie "Major League").
They moved their practice facility to a smoggy neighborhood in L.A. and they are constantly engaged in actions that are veiled threats to move to L.A. They clumsily jettisoned fan favorites Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison and then with a 14-2 roster, they brought in Norv "Holding Pattern" Turner.
The most egregious violation during this span has been the simply awful ground-game philosophy that has tried to "square peg" future 1st ballot Hall of Famer, LaDainian Tomlinson into the "round hole" of up-the-gut rushing, instead of bouncing him outside and running screens. All the while, they had Michael "the Burner" Turner but it didn't stop them from abusing L.T. and shortening his career with unnecessary risks and injuries. Any coach besides Norv "Two Scoops of Vanilla" Turner could have gotten creative with the options that Tomlinson, Turner and Sproles presented, but nope..up the gut ad nauseum.
This year is no different, except it is probably the last that the Chargers will have all the pieces in place for a run at the Lombardi trophy. The management and coaching have squandered what should have been a Super Bowl dynasty. And now, as they finally live up to their potential, the media is ready to credit Norv for getting them there, instead of correctly identifying him as the perennial anchor tied to their cleats.
Want to see Norv Turner coaching in the clutch? Go watch the Week 2 clip of Ray Lewis posterizing Sproles on 4th down to end the game, as the announcer exclaims "almost as if he knew what was coming." Yeah, because everyone, everywhere, knew what was coming.
The Chargers win despite Norv, not because of him. This is the Chargers' post-season. the scenarios all favor them. But look out, because Norv Turner is still an unexceptional head coach.