Tuesday, April 12, 2011 — Tampa, Fla. — SportsCenter Special — ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden previews his quarterback camp.
By Travis Duncan
Bolt Talk writer
This week is a must win. So was last week, and the prior week and every game since Week 1.
"We’ve got to find a way to play our best against Baltimore," Norv Turner said this week.
"We started 3-1 and over a period of time we’ve won one game over the last six games. So at some point, you are what your record is. We’re going to do everything that we can to fix the things that have kept us from winning and go find a way to go and beat Baltimore."
There is not a lot of confidence going into Sunday's game against an 8-2 Baltimore Ravens team Sunday at Qualcomm, but a win would keep the playoff dream alive and salvage the season for another week.
Such is the life of San Diego Chargers, who, according to pro-football-reference.com and brought out by Tom Krasovic of the North County Times, have played the easiest schedule in the NFL this season.
At 4-6 and three games behind the division leading 7-3 Denver Broncos, the Chargers have significant reasons to believe at the 2012 season is lost, barring a remarkable turnaround. They are among five teams, including the Jets, Dolphins, Bills and Titans at 4-6 in the AFC on the outside looking in.
Of course there are games that could have been "must wins" but were not given that significance at the time. At New Orleans Week 5 was a game the Chargers should have won. At Cleveland Week 8, a sad loss 7-6 to the Frowns, is a game the Chargers should have won. That would put them at 6-4 and in the hunt for the division. The could have should haves is is why many people feel the argument that the roster lacks talent, specifically on offense falls short.
Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune writes concerning the lack of talent and personnel turnover on the offensive side of the ball, "many of the new players simply don’t even deserve to wear the same uniform worn by Vincent Jackson and Darren Sproles, Kris Dielman and Marcus McNeill."
Acee continues, "Never has it been so apparent that this is A.J. Smith’s mess."
Assuming the Chargers do miss the playoffs and the slide continues, the great debate is whether Turner goes first or he and his boss Smith go together.
Could Smith keep his job by pulling off a hire of the decade/century?
Or has Smith lost respect around the league in the matter of free agency and roster turnover, where there are some top candidates who would not want to work with him.
The hire of the century is a hire of some ilk, some name quality. At the top of that list is Jon Gruden, who according to the internet, is seriously considering returning to coaching, as is the story each of the last three to four years around this time of year.
San Diego, if not the west coast in general, may have appeal at least geographically to the current Monday Night Football analyst. Gruden spent three years in Oakland, a year with the 49ers as an assistant in 1990 and a year at the University of the Pacific.
Secondly, Gruden is a quarterback guru, how much of that is the marketing behind his popular "Gruden QB Camp", summer time specials is not known, but you would think he would be the guy to help Phillip Rivers becomes the All-Pro he can be on a weekly basis.
Of course Gruden may not return to coaching, and even if he does, he may not want to coach the Chargers. Could he work for Jerry Jones? Carolina does not seem all that attractive. Philly could throw a ton of money at him, and has some major pieces in place on both sides of the ball.
Allegedly Gruden has been reaching out to assistants around the league, gauging their interest for his triumphant return to coaching, and among the names mentioned is current Chargers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia.
Beyond Gruden, other TV names include former Steelers coach Bill Cowher who has consistently been mentioned but has reportedly turned down opportunities, and Brian Billick, who has been out of coaching for five years now. The younger Gruden does lack some NFL experience.
What many people feel is missing in Turner is evident in guys like Gruden and Brian Billick who view themselves not simply as football coaches, but also communicators. What many would like to see is a coach who is vocal and verbose in their demeanor and gives the impression that they are a "leader of men". A guy who can give a great post-game speech to be replayed on the networks over and over again, as silly as that sounds, that is what many people think of when they think of a great head coach. A guy with some fire.
The other route may be to hire a top assistant, some of those names could include San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, or some even believe Jon's brother Jay Gruden, currently the offensive coordinator in Cincy could get a shot at a head coaching job.