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Emperor Norv's new clothes

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Jun 11, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    <font size="-1">Source: <a href="http://www.realfootball365.com/nfl/articles/2007/06/chargers-emperornorvs-newclothes110607.html" title="Real Football 365" target="_blank">Real Football 365</a></font><a href="http://www.realfootball365.com/nfl/articles/2007/06/chargers-emperornorvs-newclothes110607.html" title="Real Football 365" target="_blank"> </a>

    Normally, any such speculative article about a first-year coach would carry a lead along the lines of, "The biggest question mark for the 2007 San Diego Chargers is their new head coach..."

    <img src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/norv-turner.jpg" alt="Norv Turner" align="left" />Except that, regarding Norv Turner, there should be no question mark at all; it is only by dint of modern sports fans' annoying collective short-term memory loss and a glossing over of history that Charger fans can be optimistic. Truth is that the move to Turner from Marty Schottenheimer, the latter's bleak and dismal career playoff record aside, represents trading down for the Bolts.

    Sorry, Chargers backers, but here at RealFootball365, it's emperor's new clothes time for Turner.

    Fact No. 1: No matter who coaches this team, it will be extremely difficult for San Diego to replicate 2006. Since 1991, 27 teams have turned in a regular-season record of 13-3 or better. Blame it on parity, blame it on any number of circumstances, but the following seasons those 27 teams turned in a composite record of 248-183-1, good for an average of just over nine wins. For the record, the only teams that did not decline directly after a monster year were the 1997 Green Bay Packers and the 2004 New England Patriots , both back-to-back conference champions.

    Fact No. 2: As head coach, Turner rarely improves a team. In four of not quite nine seasons in Washington and Oakland, Turner improved his teams year-on-year. However, in 2004, this represented turning the Raiders from a 4-12 loser to a 5-11 juggernaut. Prior to this, the last time Turner improved a squad's standing in the standings was 1999.

    Fact No. 3: The guy's career winning percentage is .411! That's 58-82-1! He's had three winning seasons, and one of those was an 8-7-1! He's been in the playoffs once! Here are his stats! Sheesh, why does no one remember this stuff?

    Fact No. 4: Turner may be an "offensive mastermind," but only as an offensive coordinator. As a head coach, refer back to No. 3. As a coordinator, Turner was at the helm of the 1990s Dallas Cowboys teams and the somewhat-impressive 10-6 2003 Miami Dolphins . Team PR states that "The Chargers still run the same offense that Turner implemented in 2001," while giving a disproportionate (and probably premature) amount of credit to the coach for the recent success of the San Francisco 49ers ' Frank Gore and Alex Smith. More on this in point No. 5.

    (Incidentally, isn't it interesting how Smith, who was slagged off by media across the country for much of 2006, has seen his stock go up this offseason as a result of Turner's hype fallout? Almost makes you forget the dude was 25th in quarterback rating last season...)

    Fact No. 5: Turner's game plan is stunningly one-dimensional. It goes like this: run, run, run. In 2000, Stephen Davis ran the ball a career-high 332 times for Washington. Rookie LaDainian Tomlinson ran it 339 times in 2001 for the Chargers. Calling plays on the 'O' for the Dolphins in 2002-2003 saw Ricky Williams lug it 383 and 392 times (and dude's never been the same since). And Gore last year went for 312 carries while running for just under 1,700 yards.

    Granted, with L.T. hauling the rock, it's not as though the run-run-run style can't win, nor are Tomlinson's abilities as a workhorse in question. (Heck, he carried the ball 348 times in 2006.) But the burnout factor has got to be worrisome here even in the short term; we'll see what happens with Gore, but Davis' and Williams' post-Norv careers do not bode well for last season's most exciting player.

    Fact No. 6. Again, that winning percentage: .411!

    Fact No. 7: Despite the hype and optimism surrounding each hire of Turner as a head coach, each exit is inevitably described with appropriate ho-hum adjectives. In 2000, as Turner didn't let the door hit him on the way out of Washington, the judgment generally ran "[Washington is] a mediocre football team. That's nothing new. Not coincidentally, that's been true over the entire time Norv Turner has been their head coach. This year the offense has sputtered all season long ... The running game is totally dependent on whether Stephen Davis is healthy. Is that really the stuff of genius?"

    Flash forward to 2005, in Oakland. The jig was up quickly there: Going into the season, opinion was akin to "Because he has favored single RB backfields for so long, it was of great disappointment last season when Norv Turner was unable to find a running back talented enough to carry his usual demand. The 2004 Raiders finished dead last in rushing attempts, dead last in rushing yards, and just 22nd in yards per carry..."

    And here's the understated, official PR verbiage of Turner's ignominious departure: "Turner, who has a reputation as a talented offensive coach, was hired as ... head coach in January 2004 to invigorate a franchise that flopped after losing the Super Bowl. There were big expectations for Turner to produce an immediate turnaround, but it didn't happen."

    Question marks? The numbers seem to answer quite a few queries obscured by the hype. Combined with the apparent improvements all three AFC West competitors have made in the offseason, Norv Turner's naming as head coach is most likely a step or two backward from the evolution one of the NFL's hardest-luck teams of the 2000s.

    Sorry, San Diego, Emperor Norv's buck naked: not a pretty sight.

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