Chargers-Falcons: Norv Turner Gives an Early Christmas Gift to the Broncos

Brian SmithCorrespondent IDecember 1, 2008

Christmas came early for Bronco fans and the Broncos with San Diego refusing to play with a killer instinct against the Falcons and Denver shredding the Jets in New Jersey.

Not even Ed Hochuli could have gift wrapped the AFC West better than the San Diego Chargers have. Despite some rather questionable calls that have gone against the Chargers this year, the greatest hurdles they could not over come were themselves and Norv Turner's offense.

Norv Turner's refusal to change an offensive scheme that isn't working and isn't fooling anyone contributed to an amazingly poor performance on Sunday. If not for some timely turnovers by the Falcons, the score probably would have been 3-22 instead of 16-22.

Eric Weddle continues to get burned and continues to play out of position time and time again. The only thing he did right was return a fumble 83 yards for a touchdown.

Jacob Hester looked more like a first year Pop Warner player than a NFL rookie, by continuing to block the wrong player over and over again on run plays. He would run practically in the wrong direction than where the play was going, leaving Tomlinson open to getting tackled in the backfield.

The offensive also gave up ANOTHER safety. Here's a hint Norv and the boys, if you are already having a hard time run blocking and you are on your one-yard line, don't run the ball. Try taking a play out of the Miami playbook back when Marino was the quarterback: quick three-step drops and fire.

I digress though. First play from scrimmage for the Chargers...anyone? Bueler? Yup, run play to the left to Tomlinson for no gain. In case you might think that Norv Turner was fooling anyone, the Falcons had eight men in the box waiting for L.T. Does Turner not let Rivers call audibles?

In the same opening series, the Chargers had 1st-and-10 at the Falcons' 41 with the Falcons on man to man. L.T. was the only one in the backfield and the Chargers had three wideouts. As soon as the ball was pitched back to L.T., the Falcons already had two defensive linemen in the back field pursuing L.T.

As L.T. is running to the left side, he has six Falcon defenders within three yards, forcing him out of bounds for a gain of one yard. Granted, it didn't help that Jackson and Manumaleuna both missed their blocks.

On the next play, Gates lets a pass slip through his hands that would have been close to first down. They came up short on 3rd-and-9 and then go for it on 4th-and-3, where Rivers' pass is knocked down, turning the ball over to Atlanta.

I can't blame Turner for dropped passes; Gates should have caught that ball on second down. However, there were times where Atlanta showed a defense that the Chargers and their tall receivers could have taken advantage of with a timely audible.

Fast-forward to the end of the second quarter, the Falcons have 1st-and-oal at the San Diego two-yard line with Atlanta up 15-7, the Chargers pull off another great goal-line stand after the Falcons go for it on fourth down.

The Chargers got the ball back with 58 seconds and two timeouts left, and they have to kick it off to Atlanta to start the second half, instead of trying to, at the very least, get into field-goal range, let the clock run out by running to run plays.

This is what happens when you have a head coach who plays not to lose instead of playing to win. Had the Chargers been able to get a field goal before the half, the Chargers would have only needed a field goal at the end of the game to tie it and send it into overtime.

Still playing the game of "if." If the Falcons had not blocked one of Nate Kaedings field-goal tries, the Chargers would have been trying to score the winning field goal instead of the tying field goal.

You cannot win football games if you consistently take away scoring opportunities from your team. Norv Turner has been doing that all season long.

It really makes me wonder what exactly is Norv Turner's strategy. The second play after the Chargers got the ball back before the end of the half, LT ran for a first down. If you were not trying to get into scoring position, why did you run that play instead of kneeling on the ball to end the half and risk injury to a player?

The defense, all in all, played well. They kept the game close enough to keep the Chargers in it. However, Norv's extremely suspect play calling kept victory just out of reach once again and presenting Denver with the task of representing the AFC West in the playoffs.

There you have it Bronco fans on how the Chargers gift wrapped the AFC West for the Broncos. I don't think Norv Turner could have coached the Patriots to the Super Bowl last year, he just does not know how to take advantage of his talent.

So, Broncos fans, send your thank you cards to:

Norv Turner c/o San Diego Chargers
P.O. Box 609609
San Diego, CA 92160-9609