Charged Up: Norv Turner's Contract Extension Is a Joke
Never has one man made it so easy for so many to eat crow repeatedly over a short period of time.
He's a buffoon! No, he's a genius! He's brilliant! No, he's an idiot!
The Chargers began the season 2-3 amidst a barrage of injuries. Not helping that fact was a sheer lack of intensity from the players and very little imagination from the coach's playbook.
As you are all well aware by now, Head Coach Norv Turner also doubles as the team's chief offensive mind and is thus responsible for calling plays.
A typical failed Charger drive during the early going of the 2009 season usually read: run, run, incomplete pass, punt.
When a sizable portion of the team's fans were fed up with Turner, ready to proverbially burn him at the stake (booing the team's offense vs. Denver in October, calling for his dismissal publicly), the team rebounded, slowly but surely at first.
The Bolts erased a 3.5 game Bronco lead and won 11 straight, storming into the playoffs and having many observers predicting a Super Bowl berth.
Turner himself became somewhat of a rock star, back in his fanbase's good graces, and even receiving national exposure.
Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium, Turner and the Bolts gave the fans and media an unwelcome blast from the past, looking a lot more like that 2-3 club moreso than the towering force that won 13 games overall.
The loss dropped Turner's playoff record in San Diego to 3-3, prompted another set of boos that some mistakenly thought were directed at LaDainian Tomlinson (they were for Norv's play-calling, I assure you), and pretty much destroyed Nate Kaeding's reputation.
As for Norv's reputation, not to mention his job security?
Turner was going into his final year under contract, yet only a failure as massive and unexpected as this one would prompt speculation about his future.
Well, the speculation was over Monday.
Turner was offered a coaching extension which he gladly took (I'm assuming while asking, "You really mean it?" over and over again), keeping him in San Diego until 2013.
It is Charged Up's humble opinion (I'm well aware the column itself is not a person or a sentient entity, or maybe it is) that by making this move, San Diego brass are, at worst, hypocrites, or at best, negligent.
Remember January of 2007? The Chargers had been knocked out of the playoffs after a first-round bye, the Colts were favorites to win the Super Bowl...in essence, if not for the emergence of Lady GaGa I'd swear this was just nationwide deja vu.
Marty Schottenheimer was the team's coach. GM A.J. Smith and Marty did not get along.
When coordinators Cam Cameron and Wade Phillips bolted to take head coaching jobs elsewhere, A.J. and CEO Dean Spanos finally saw a good enough excuse to fire Schottenheimer.
In came Norv Turner, with the tag on him being that he was the guy to take the team "to the next level."
Three years later, he has yet to make good on that promise.
Schottenheimer's last three seasons (in which he developed Drew Brees into a franchise QB, then Philip Rivers, and LT began to show why he'd be a hall-of-famer) were marred by failure in the playoffs, but his regular-season record over that span was 34-14.
Inheriting a talent-rich team and being beckoned by fans and ownership alike that a Super Bowl championship was expected, Turner has disappointed about as equally as Schottenheimer in his tenure.
Taking that 2006 team that went 14-2 and turning it into an 8-8 club just two years later was alarming, but token playoff victories were enough to appease most.
This season, a 13-3 record renewed thoughts of a parade through downtown San Diego.
However, the team's (and coach's) massive collapse should've sent management into pondering mode.
With proven winners such as Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher, and Jon Gruden out of head coaching jobs, wasn't this enough of a reason to give a possible change some thought?
Of course not.
But then again, why should we be surprised? Everyone knows Schottenheimer was fired for quarrelling with Smith, not for failing to win the Super Bowl.
Norv, by all accounts, gets along just peachy with the GM, so there's no trouble on the foreseeable horizon for the coach.
And thus, in one fell swoop, Chargers management disregarded their own hiring and firing practices of the recent past and continued to alienate their fanbase after yet another monumental collapse.
Suddenly, it's not so comforting to look forward to next year.
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