Source: Associated Press
Coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith will get another chance to try to lead the San Diego Chargers back to the playoffs, the team announced Tuesday.
"Bottom line, I believe these two men give us the best chance to get back to the playoffs," owner Dean Spanos said in a statement. "A.J. Smith is the best man to improve our roster, and Norv Turner is the best man to lead that roster on the field."
Spanos said the two men bring stability and experience to the Chargers, something "that's hard to find in the NFL." He also said he respected that the players believe in Turner's coaching ability.
"As we've seen throughout Norv's tenure and particularly this past season, the players believe in him, respect him and play hard for him. When we went through that tough stretch, no one quit. The team kept playing hard, and that's a tribute to Norv's leadership and the respect the players have for him.
Spanos said the team would "take a hard look at everything, from player evaluation to coaching to the rash of injuries we've suffered in recent years.
"Injuries have killed us. And no one is ever perfect in this business. Player evaluation isn't an exact science. We need to improve across the board and I'm going to make sure we do.
"We all have our quirks and faults, but I want A.J. and Norv on my side. They are the right men to help us win a championship."
The Chargers finished 8-8, missing the postseason for the second straight season. The Chargers started 4-1 and ended 4-1, but were doomed by a six-game losing streak in the middle of the season. Had they won one more game, they would have won the AFC West. Instead, Denver won the division despite losing three straight at the end of the schedule.
Turner was hired in February 2007 after Marty Schottenheimer was fired for what Spanos said was a "dysfunctional" relationship with Smith. Turner inherited a team that went 14-2 before melting down in a home playoff loss to New England. Turner got the Chargers to the AFC Championship Game his first season before losing at New England. Since then, though, there's been a steady decline in postseason success. San Diego has won only one playoff game in the last four seasons. Its last postseason appearance was an embarrassing home loss to the New York Jets in January 2010. The Chargers responded to that defeat by giving Turner a contract extension.
Smith has been the Chargers' general manager for nine seasons (2003-11). San Diego has won 88 games and five AFC West titles during that span.
Turner's overall record in nearly 14 full seasons is 107-113-1. He is 49-31 in five seasons with the Chargers.
Spanos, emphasized in the team's statement, that winning a title -- not just regular-season games -- is the organization's goal.
"Despite the number of wins we've had, the net bottom line is it doesn't mean anything unless you win a championship," Spanos said. "That's our goal and I am committed to winning a Super Bowl for San Diego."