Open Letter to San Diego Charger Fans: Norv is a Four-Letter Word

29 01 2010

First of all, it is time to stop blaming this guy.

Yeah, his playoff record sucks. Yeah, he missed three kicks. That ignores the fact that true championship teams usually don’t need three kicks – true championship teams will convert at least one of those opportunities into a touchdowns. True championship teams don’t usually find themselves trailing by two scores late in the 4th quarter.

For the better part of this decade, and for several other periods in the past, The San Diego Chargers have been amongst the NFL elite. For some reason, you’ve never been able to get over the hump, and you have a long line of coaches that brought you to the brink…Marty Schottenheimer, Don Coryell, even making a Super Bowl appearance under Bobby Ross. These guys were all talented head coaches with proven track records.

But then in 2007, Charger faithful seemed to have had enough. Once again, the Chargers were poised amongst the top teams in the league, and once again, they couldn’t take that next step. So Schottenheimer was thrown overboard and a new coach was brought in; a coach different than the past crop of “second-best” guys. A coach who would take the Chargers to the Promised Land. So, in 2007, the San Diego Chargers named Norville Eugene “Norv” Turner as that coach.

While the team may change, the exasperation is a constant.

Read that again, because it doesn’t stick the first time: The Chargers, wanting a coach who could lead them to a championship, hired Norv Turner. Norv Fucking Turner. It’s like everybody in the Charger front office stuck their heads up their asses simultaneously that fateful day in 2007.

This is a guy who has lived off his salad days as the architect of the Cowboys high-octane offense in their Super Bowl years in the early 90’s. It had to be tough to get performance out of an offense featuring three hall-of-famers and the best offensive line of the era.

That success got him promoted to the head coach level, and since then we’ve had plenty of time to learn Norv Turner sucks as a head coach. Short of Minnesota’s Brad Childress, he’s the least charismatic coach in the league. He has the personality of a Velveeta sandwich on white bread with extra mayonnaise. He couldn’t lead a pack of wolves to fresh meat, and flies leave fresh shit to follow his play-calling decisions (insert references to the on-side kick against the Jets here).

The numbers tell the story. His career record is 90-98-1, giving Norv a winning percentage of .452. To put that in perspective, compare that with some other NFL coaching legends:

  • Wayne Fontes .496
  • Jim Haslett .464
  • Norv Turner .452
  • Jerry Glanville .435
  • Dennis Erickson .416

Look carefully at the names on that list. There’s a reason why Norv’s name ranks with the guy who spent a decade trying to make the Lions respectable and the guy who said Brett Favre would never be a legitimate NFL quarterback. Also, bear in mind that Norv’s winning percentage has improved from .418 at the time the Chargers made the decision to hire him.

But now, even though he has seen success with this team, it is time to realize that Norv isn’t the guy to take you to the next level. The futility of Nate Kaeding provides nice cover for the fact the Chargers were playing the best football in the NFL in the second half of the season and they had arguably the most talented and well-balanced team in the league. They converted a bye in the first-round into a loss against an upstart Jets squad.

A Norv Turner offense is known for two things; its firepower and its ability to be dominated physically. Even though that has been demonstrated on multiple occasions, Turner has never seemed to be able to make that adjustment. Until he does, his teams will never win a championship as long as they have to face a tough, physical defense. That’s a problem, because the AFC is filled with just such teams. The Chargers already saw the capabilities of the Jets D, and there’s a similar list in this conference, one that includes the likes of the Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, and to a lesser extent, the Colts.

This is why the move of extending Turner’s contract puzzles me. The Chargers have bags of talent and they’re going to win a lot of games. The piece that is missing is the guy to lead them over the hump. Norv could screw up a grilled cheese sandwich, but even he can get them into the playoffs. But that means more Jets-type collapses.

That leads to my questions for Charger fans. Are you trying to become a west-coast version of the Minnesota Frauds Vikings? Why do that to yourself?

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