San Diego Chargers: 5 Quick Changes a Good Head Coach Would Make to Improve Team
It's been well documented. I am no fan of Norv Turner, and it seems like even the most ardent Norv backers are nowhere to be found after yesterday's debacle in Foxboro, when the New England Patriots gobbled up another four turnovers in route to a closer than the score indicates win.
That's eight turnovers in their last two games against New England.
I've been saying it for years now. Turner just does not put an emphasis on the basic ingredients of winning. He doesn't coach the defense or special teams up at all and he can say what he wants, but he puts stats above winning.
Here are some of the changes that a good head coach would make immediately upon replacing Norv Turner.
Rely on Your Most Talented Guys
However, they have a very mediocre starting running back in Mike Tolbert.
Ryan Mathews, the other starting running back, has exploded for at least 118 yards from scrimmage in his last three games and could very easily eclipse 200 yards in a game if is made the primary back and the defense doesn't devote most of it's resources to stopping him.
Which they would.
No amount of creative scheming is going to replace that type presence on the field from your running back, which is why the LaDainian Tomlinson led 2006 Chargers easily outscored every other Charger unit, including all of Norv's best efforts.
The ability to double cover any of San Diego's receivers would be greatly compromised by this simple change.
Play your best players and sit everyone else down until they're absolutely needed.
Hold Guys Like Mike Tolbert Accountable Before They Blow It in Games
Norv Turner is very much a reactionary coach. He waits until things show up in games before he tries to fix them rather than nipping them in the bud in practice or the preseason.
Want an example?
Turner is on record saying that he has told Mike Tolbert to stop dancing, pick a hole and run through it. However, he continued to put Tolbert in the game, although the running back repeatedly came to a complete stop on the field so that he could change direction as if he's Darren Sproles (who doesn't need to stop to do that).
After Tolbert decided to start moonwalking on the field, only to find he's no Michael Jackson as he tripped and fumbled, Turner left him in the game. That is embarrassing.
Want another example?
San Diego came out and scored seven points in the first half of both games so far this season, only to come out and perform much better in the second half. That is a trend that goes back as far as 2007, when Norv became the head coach of the Chargers.
Simplifying the Offense Would Make Things so Much Easier for Philp Rivers
Notice the uniform Philip Rivers is wearing in the picture above.
Rivers was never better than he was in 2006, playing in a simplified version of the same attack he orchestrates today. He led the league in second half, fourth quarter and 3rd down efficiency. His red zone proficiency was way off the charts. No redzone turnovers.
Actually, back then, it was referred to as the green zone.
The offense was built around star running back LaDainian Tomlinson, and there were a few plays that the team ran so much that opposing defenses couldn't stop the play, even when they knew it was coming like the Power O.
Turner has the team running so many different offensive plays with so many different people that they really don't have the same type of efficiency that the team enjoyed in 2006.
Turner declared that his offense, unlike the 2006 version, would be able to score a ton of points on elite defenses. In the 2006 playoffs against an elite Patriots defense, the Chargers scored 21 points. In 2011 against a porous Patriots defense, the Chargers scored 21 points.
Bring Back the Shawne Merriman/Steve Foley Swagger to the Chargers
Remember in 2007 when everyone hated the Chargers because Shawne Merriman, Luis Castillo and the boys celebrated wildly after every defensive stop and was celebrating all the time because they made that many plays.
How about the time when Steve Foley accidentally kicked dirt in New Orleans Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks face and face planting him during a celebration? Foley's explanation was hilarious.
"I didn't mean to kick THAT much dirt in the man's face."
San Diego's disrespectful attitude mean the had to be much more intense on the field because teams were coming to kick their butts, automatically making them much tougher to contend with.
This team is showing way too much respect to their opponents which is making them way too soft.
Could you imaging the 2006 Chargers sitting back allowing Tom Brady to throw into a soft zone?
Please. The man would have been hurt passing that many times.
Demand a Reduction in Mistakes from Philip Rivers to the Back Up Safety
- You're not going to turn the ball over and play quarterback for him, and
- Not coming away with points in the red zone is unacceptable.
Marty Schottenheimer taught me a thing or two when he was the head coach of the Chargers.
Drew Brees is the man he is today because Marty Schottenheimer put him on punishment after he repeatedly turned the ball over in 2002. He was benched for several games in favor of Doug Flutie.
The next year, Brees responded with a Pro Bowl year, throwing 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Rivers has already turned the ball over five times in two games.
I don't blame Rivers for all those turnovers, because Turner's offensive philosophy is prone to interceptions. That Rivers has thrown so few over his career is amazing. The problem is that the league has now evolved into a San Diego Chargers like down the field passing league. Teams can now match up much better to what Norv's been calling over the years.
That's right. Rivers is not even in the top-five when it comes to 20 yard passes and doesn't have one 40 yard completion to his credit, two categories he's ruled over the past three years. Teams are more ready for Norv's high risk attack than ever.
The Chargers' red zone efficiency is terrible. The Chargers have come away scoreless when in scoring position at least four times, and that may be generous. At one point in the third quarter against New England, the Chargers had crossed into Patriots territory on ever possession in the game and had seven points to show for it.
Pop Warner teams are more efficient than that.
When you watch the Chargers operating in the red zone, it's clear that Warren Sapp wasn't lying when he claimed that the Raiders never practiced red zone efficiency "not one time."