A.J., Give Ron Rivera a Promotion
It happens every year, the fans of the San Diego Chargers scream for the immediate ousting of head coach Norv Turner. Different variations on a theme of "How can a team so talented perform so poorly when it matters? It must be the coaching!" overflow the sports blogs every winter (let's see, how many on BleacherReport alone?), and the grumbles are heard even when the bolts are on a tear.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not standing up for Norv. I was a kid in DC when the Turner wrecking ball came to Washington, so I was prepared for the worst when it was announced that he was coming here. In my mind, he is a mediocre head coach who took over a talented team in a pathetic division and has ridden the whitewash to shore. I think you can see where the surfing metaphor would go next…
The most damning indictment all season of our head coach was when he stood on the podium and blamed the special teams failures on a lack of motivation on the part of the players. While a true statement, it begs the questions: Why weren't they motivated? And if they were not self motivated players, who did not do his job in properly motivating them? Every player in the NFL knows that special teams is a rite of passage, and the best way to be promoted is to make plays on special teams (side note: Mike Tolbert's helmetless charge in kick coverage against the Niners should be looped in every training camp from now on, for two reasons). But I digress...
The Chargers are most likely going to be a very different team next year with so many player contracts expiring. This isn't like last year where two high-profile players were let go that just plain had to go (one with a solid boot-print on his butt), but I'm not going to get into a discussion about the merits of the different receivers, or the lightning bug. I can see both sides of the coin for each of those guys, and I actually trust A.J.'s judgment and Dean's budget in each of those specific cases. But there is one man for whom every effort must be made to retain as a key employee.
I'm firmly in the "stats don't tell the whole picture" camp here, but you can't deny that Ron is one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL, and one day he is going to get a head coaching offer that he'll take. I'm worried that this is the year, and replacing him is not going to be easy. So here's my proposal:
Demote Norv to offensive coordinator, and give his job to Ron. The main reason for A.J.'s man-crush on Norv is his lack of ego, so he'll take it in stride, right? From what I can tell from the outside vantage point of a fan, Ron has all of the qualities of a championship-winning coach. He's smart, knows the game inside and out, his players respect him and if you've ever watched him on the sideline you know that he's not afraid to rip into those who deserve it. No need to "blow it up" A.J., just tweak things a little. You know what, it may even quell the pitchfork equipped masses more than the disingenuous dismissal of Crosby.
I know it's not going to happen, contractual issues alone probably make it impossible, but I can dream. And San Diego deserves it.
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