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Chargers have come to believe in Turner

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Players embracing his message, methods

    By Kevin Acee
    Union-Tribune Staff Writer
    11:32 p.m. September 12, 2009

    SAN DIEGO – First the locker room and then ... .

    Well, the locker room is all that really matters. If, from the outside, the lead link is perceived as the weakest part of the Chargers' chain, well, as someone might say, it is what it is.

    Inside the locker room, head coach Norv Turner is finally understood – respected for what he is, appreciated for the plan he has.

    “He's a genius,” defensive end Luis Castillo said. “He's the kind of guy who everything he does he does for a reason. As players, you don't always see those reasons. But I think with Norv we've come to realize he's always got a reason for everything he says, everything he does.”

    Nobody said Turner is universally admired as a leader of men. Nobody hinted that he has become Vince Lombardi or even a certain other coach known for his dramatics.
    But they get Turner now. And he gets them.

    “He's come to know this team inside and out,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. “Now he knows what buttons to push. He was feeling the team out. He pushes us more. He's demanding more out of us. In return, guys understand what he's trying to do.”

    Without the smooth words of his predecessor or many of the coaches/TV stars who populate the league, Turner has proved himself to his players to be adept at massaging and prodding, building confidence and keeping it real. As the things he has told them have proved true (such as how he kept repeating they were “right there” last season, even at 4-8), they have come to believe in him.

    He is a man of few words, but those words mean something to those for whom they are intended.

    “He doesn't just yell for no reason,” tight end Antonio Gates said. “When he's yelling it's serious, because everything he does he does with a purpose. It's not to say, 'I'm yelling because I'm the head coach and a whole bunch of people are around and I need to yell.' That's what you respect about him the most.”

    This was a process, everyone admits now. The Chargers pushed the message of continuity in 2007 when Turner – the team's former offensive coordinator – was hired to replace Marty Schottenheimer. And there was some truth to that. But the larger truth was that changes needed to be made.

    They have been close to being a championship team.

    Good health might have allowed the Chargers to see what might have happened two Januarys ago. Or all of last season.

    But the Super Bowl has eluded them. They weren't ready.

    And so, the talk of Turner being on the hot seat is once again being bandied, likely waiting only for a few losses to envelop this town completely.

    The reality is Turner is more than secure with the man who makes such decisions and the owner who has put his faith in that man.
    Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith believes in Turner, almost without reservation. They see things similarly.

    Team President Dean Spanos was convinced in 2002 by then-G.M. John Butler that Schottenheimer was the head coach to take the Chargers from awful to respectable. They'd worry about the playoffs when they got there.

    Over time, Spanos came to believe, through his own observations of two postseason debacles and with the prodding of Smith, that Schottenheimer had done all he could. A change needed to be made, and Spanos and Smith believed Turner was the man with the right plan.

    Two seasons and three postseason victories later, while disappointed in the endings, nothing has diminished their faith.

    “As I have said many times before, once your player base has been established you need to find yourself a competent head coach – a coach that knows players and knows what to do with them, a coach that is smart, poised and can operate under extreme NFL pressure,” Smith said. “And I'm talking about what really only matters – the postseason pressure run to a world championship. Postseason pressure mounts each game, and it can snap you like a dried-out twig if you're not wired right.

    “I believe strongly that Norv Turner is wired for the task at hand and is the right coach at the right time for the Chargers.”

    Finally, going into the third season of the Turner era, the people he coaches seem to have come around to that way of thinking as well.

    Among the players who struggled the most to embrace the changes was the man who set all sorts of records in the 14-2 season of 2006.

    It's been a tough two years for Tomlinson. Injuries and not enough carries for his liking made him a little dour at times. His smile has resurfaced this summer, at least so far. And he seems enlightened about the direction of the Chargers offense.

    “Looking at us before, we were one-dimensional, a power running team,” he said. “To take it to the next level we needed to become more balanced. I didn't understand at the time. It was hard to see it.”

    The men who blocked for Tomlinson might still prefer they run the ball more. But they have decided to stop fighting things.
    “It's not in the best interest of the team for the offensive line to be calling plays,” center Nick Hardwick said. “We need to take the play, get up to the line and execute.”

    Why did this take so long?

    Turner took over a team coming off a 14-2 season. Everything worked pretty well that year. With the perspective of time, players have come to see that record was something of an illusion. They had taken advantage of a soft schedule and then crumbled in their first playoff game after that season, a 24-21 loss to New England at Qualcomm Stadium.

    “Sometimes as players you want to do the best thing you can – 'Let's do this. This is what has been working,' ” Gates said. “Coaches sometimes have a bigger picture than what we can see. We ain't old enough to know everything.”

    Players say Turner got through by pushing a little harder, being right a lot, and by the mere passage of time.

    “We're a little bit older, a little more mature,” cornerback Quentin Jammer said. “ . . . He's gotten to know us better, we've gotten to know him better, and it's kind of gelling. You don't like to conform to the way he wants to do it; you do it the way you've been doing it. I think now, guys have started to turn a little bit and say, 'Let's try it his way.' ”
  2. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    Not being a Norv basher by habit or inclination, I'm glad my patience finally being rewarded. We're healthy, coalescing under a coach who knows how to create an offense and who finally has really good defensive coordinator whose defense will be as good as or better than those of Wade Phillips. I think this offense and the defense will open some eyes this season. I'll go out on a limb and say that we'll soon have our Lombardi, as long as we stay healthy.
  3. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2005
    Something feels "right" about this year.

    • Like Like x 1

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

    Jul 11, 2006
    We might have come full circle as a team and now are ready to make some noise and flex some muscle in the NFL.:bolt:
  5. mandude

    mandude BoltTalker

    Nov 30, 2006
    This article pissed me off to no end. We need to stop talking about the god damn super bowl and start talking about the raiders. if we lose tonight it will be EMBARRASSING.

    Unless it's a week before February 7th, whenever any reporter asks this team about the superbowl, all they should say is "we are not thinking about the superbowl, we are thinking about this Sunday."
    • Like Like x 1

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