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Spanos sharpening the headsman's axe

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Blue Bolt, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    Spanos sees it’s time to sharpen the ax
    By Nick Canepa
    Monday, December 26, 2011

    Dean Spanos has spent about one-seventh of his life trying to get a new football stadium built in San Diego, and it’s been one giant tooth extraction without Novocain, painful and frustrating. But give the man credit. He’s stayed the course.

    The Chargers boss needs so many things to fall into place. He’s spent millions (I hope you don’t believe his stadium point man, Mark Fabiani, works pro bono) trying to bang his head against the wall and break through. But he’s smart enough to be aware that, on top of the hair pull with City Hall, besides dealing with the ham and eggers, small-timers, doomsayers, bottom feeders, glad-handers and obstructionists, he also needs one important thing to make his dream reality — product.

    And right now his expensive football product not only isn’t very good, having missed the playoffs again after being involved in a pileup on Saturday in Detroit, but it’s being controlled by two men — coach Norv Turner and General Manager A.J. Smith — despised by a decent portion of the people who either purchase Spanos’ material or care deeply about it.

    The Chargers own this town, and their leaving it not only would constitute the biggest sports story in the history of our area, but it would have major effects outside the arena. I’ve long been convinced that, if this franchise were to leave — especially to L.A., which so many San Diegans hate — the major league chevron would be stripped from our sleeves. It would be a disastrous blow to the town’s image, its morale, its camaraderie, one from which it might take decades to recover.

    So, if Spanos is to get the votes to build a new place, it figures that, even if he’s loathe to let outside influences influence his decision, he must make a splash. Spanos has to do something.

    It’s easy to say it’s his money and his business, but he’s also a salesman. And it’s hard to sell something that, while hardly completely broken, isn’t working right.

    Which is why sometime next week, following the Chargers’ meaningless Sunday exercise in Oakland, capping their second consecutive season in which they ran afoul of the playoffs, Spanos will fire Turner and probably Smith, who built the franchise from squat.

    There certainly are no guarantees his replacements will win one Super Bowl after the other, and I believe a double firing would mean too much immediate change. Still, it’s also easy to sense Spanos has no alternative but to at least fire Turner, who has had five years while the Spanos family remains ringless.

    The coach is the fall guy, but it can be said Turner had his chances. If I have a problem with Norv outside of game and clock management, it’s that he’s never taken the blame for anything. As an example, during his meeting with the media Monday morning, he basically threw Smith under the bus when discussing why Detroit’s passing attack was so successful against San Diego’s defense.

    “We have not played well against a wide-open, spread offense,” he said.

    Turner was saying he doesn’t have the defensive personnel to combat the spread and that fortunately not every opponent has the quarterback and skill people to run it. And who supplies the personnel? The man who, publicly anyway, has praised Norv’s every move, A.J. Smith.

    Spanos should keep Smith, but probably won’t, and in that both coach and GM will bail out with $6 million parachutes and no doubt quickly gain employment elsewhere, it’s difficult to feel terribly sorry for either of them. They aren’t going on unemployment.

    Spanos has not advised Smith of his fate. I’m told there hasn’t been one conversation regarding the GM’s future and the two do communicate. Smith is not the type to burst into his boss’ office and demand: “Hey, Dean, are you firing me, or what?” Smith is a planner. Guaranteed what ducks he has are in a row.

    If Spanos fires Smith — and I’m on record saying it will be a mistake, because if he built it before he can build it again — his first order of business will be to find a new GM, who will then hire a coach. And who will that world beater be?

    Rumors surfaced that former Steelers coach Bill Cowher already has interviewed for the job, but I have it on good authority it’s not true and Cowher is not a Spanos favorite. Also, it’s said Cowher would want full control, and unless Spanos has flipped from his philosophy of checks and balances, he’s not hiring someone to do both jobs.

    Though Smith is not tight with former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, there is talk Fisher wants to be where Smith is, be it here or elsewhere. If Smith stays, the best bet would be Jon Gruden, now an ESPN analyst who coached the Bucs to a Super Bowl win and came within a tuck rule of getting the Raiders into the big dance.

    Smith and Gruden are very close. Even if Smith isn’t retained, the best choice for this job would be Gruden, who at the very least makes better faces and is more animated than Norv, which should appease the fans — until he loses his first game.

    In any event, it’s now up to Dean Spanos to cannonball into the pool and make a splash. Have to get wet before you can swim.

    nick.canepa@uniontrib.com
     
  2. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    "If he built it before, he can build it again"
    Then tell me Nick, why did he **** it up so bad that the Bolts don't, in fact, have the personnel to defend an offense like the Lions?

    Sorry, logic and Canepa are like oil and water. I should know better ;)
     
  3. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    I think I'm gonna puke.
     
  4. AnteaterCharger

    AnteaterCharger Calibrating Bolttalk, Podcast by Podcast Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    The guillotine is getting prepared

    And FCBolt - the track record of building shows ability. The destruction shows his failures. There's some evidence last two years that he is making some progress in taking care of long term players and bringing people in who can help (mathews, butler, thomas, martin, spikes, weddle)
     
  5. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    Report: Gruden preparing to return to coaching in 2012
    Posted by Mike Florio on December 27, 2011, 12:00 AM EST

    Earlier this year, Jon Gruden signed an “exclusive” five-year contract with ESPN, which was scheduled to commence in 2012. And it’s so “exclusive” that Gruden may be gone before the first day of the new deal.

    In a thorough and detailed update regarding the coming turmoil in San Diego, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Gruden has decided to return to coaching in 2012, and that ESPN is aware of Gruden’s looming departure.

    And here’s where it gets even more interesting. Acee reports that, if Rams owner Stan Kroenke fires coach Steve Spagnuolo and G.M. Billy Devaney, Kroenke will attempt to hire Chargers G.M. A.J. Smith (if/when Smith is fired by the Chargers) and Gruden in a package deal that would consist of a guy who never smiles, and a guy who always scowls.

    Chargers owner Dean Spanos is expected to reveal next week his plans regarding the G.M. position. It’s widely regarded as a given that coach Norv Turner will be fired.

    On Sunday night, Peter King of Football Night In America opined that the Rams’ job could be the best one available in the 2012 hiring cycle, given the presence of Sam Bradford, the possibility of the top pick in the 2012 draft, and the most cap room of any team come 2013.

    Of course, there’s also a chance that Smith is hoping the Chargers realize that Smith could lure Gruden to San Diego as the replacement for Turner. Perhaps not coincidentally, Gruden gushed about Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers when San Diego recently played the Jaguars on Monday Night Football. (We know he does that with everyone, but it was even more over the top than usual with Rivers.)
     
  6. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    You could make the same argument for Norv. His early playoff wins show that he can be successful with the right personnel. His decline in wins coincides precisely with the decline of the roster.

    Sometimes, you just have to say that a guy has had enough time to accomplish something. If they haven't, than you move on. AJ has been hear a lot longer than Norv...... 'nuff said.
     
  7. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    **** Gruden.
     
  8. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    Are you an Ringo related by any chance? ;)
     
  9. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    Weddle's an interesting example in that it cost the team future draft picks, and clearly, AJ giving up 2nd round picks has cost us in terms of depth.

    If he (and Spanos) have decided that free agency is a viable option (the Spikes example) then all the better, but I'm not convinced.

    Martin and Thomas are very much 'jury's still out' guys.

    Butler and Mathews were good picks obviously, but AJ is going to have to hit a higher percentage than that if he's going to bring the team back to contending for an AFC title. For those happy with being in the AFCW conversation every year, then AJ has done a great job.
     
  10. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    2nd cousins on my father's side :D
     
  11. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    Jewels of my closet.......... ;)

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  12. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    Shouldn't there be 5 of those?
     
  13. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    They dissolved already........ the 2008 white one is nearly a rag. They really need to win another one, before I run out of t-shirts. ;)
     
  14. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    And too think, both of you were highly critical of the Cam Thomas pick........ just a coincidence? ;)
     
  15. The LBC

    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

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    Because no GM is ever going to consistently draft plug and play, pro-ready players with every single pick.

    Look, I rarely if ever agree with Jabba... er... Canepa, and I'll be the first to admit that AJ has his faults. But at the same time, I'm starting to find the expectations of some fans (not just Charger fans but football fans in general) to be nothing short of laughable. They expect rookies to come in and immediately be starters or at minimum to be pushing the established starters from Day One of their inaugural campaigns. Sorry, but it just doesn't work like that. Players have to be developed, coached up, and groomed - even the much-hyped 1st round can't-miss prospects.

    I'll fault AJ plenty for his inconsistency in regard to just taking the best prospect with the best upside available on the board in the 1st, because he made a noticeable delineation from that practice over the past half-decade. However, he has still had a knack, then and now, for unearthing quality prospects with promising ceilings (and at the same time decent enough floors that they can make immediate contributions if called upon, even if only in a limited capacity). The difference between then and now is that Norv, and the vast majority of the staff that Turner has assembled (basically everyone outside of Charlie Joiner, John Pagano, and Don Johnson - though I'm less impressed with Johnson than I was at the start of this season), flat out suck at developing and honing talent. Norv can craft QB's, but that's one position.

    I point this out because it's a two-way street, one that is succeeding in several places across the league right now. Ted Thompson drafts almost exclusively for upside and ceiling in Green Bay, and did so even before they became this offensive juggernaut that they are now; yes, he has certain aesthetic benchmarks that he clings to (like not drafting any DB shorter than 6'0") but so do most GM's. Mickey Loomis and Rich Reiprish in New Orleans have effectively built their team far more off the successes of their mid and late round picks (and the development by Sean Payton's staff thereof) than they have off their 1st rounders - who short of Malcolm Jenkins have pretty much underwhelmed all the way back until Will Smith. AJ's former assistant Buddy Nix - he's managed to produce an effective offensive line from late round picks, one 1st rounder, and castoff from the waivers and practice squads of other teams... in large part due to Chan Gailey and his staff's ability to coach up players.

    This is not a rare or even unpopular (at least among staffs in the league) practice/strat that AJ and Ed McGuire are using here. It's just one that's not congruent with the coaching staff we have in place. And yes, we can fault AJ with holding on to that coaching staff as well - the initial hiring at least and likely with prematurely advocating the extension to Norv's contract; once that extension was signed I really can't fault AJ as much for not outright canning Norv since at that point he was also having to, assuming he did want to, convince the guy who signs his checks to eat the bill for anywhere from $6-12 million be he (AJ) made a mistake.

    I suppose I'm more playing devil's advocate than anything here, but I do think that people oversimplify things far too much (don't care how we win - whether it involves breaking rules, eating babies, putting ownership in debt, etc. - so long as we win) and as a result they develop some pretty unrealistic expectations of what a GM should and should be able to do easily, within reason, or otherwise.
     
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  16. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    LBC, are you just now recognizing the irrationality & dumbfuckery of a goodly portion of the Charger "fan base"?

    I took you for a little quicker than that. ;)
     
  17. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    Geography & therefore exposure to more than youtube. :whistling:
     
  18. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    Wrong. It was a late pick. I always said it was worth a shot there, just predicted he wouldn't amount to much when everyone else was hailing the next coming of Jamal. Happily wrong on that prediction, though I still doubt he'll go all-pro.
     
  19. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    I fixed it for you. ;)
     
  20. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    Splitting hairs, aren't we? ;)

    [​IMG]
     
  21. The LBC

    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

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    It's the curse of teaching... you want to give people the benefit of the doubt and ultimately you find yourself let down and facepalming yourself for ever having been dumb enough to do that when all is said and done.

    Also, for those wanting Gruden, the only way you're ever going to see that man succeed as a HC is if he has a GM like AJ - and I'm not talking just a guy who can identify diamond in the rough late round and UDFA prospects, but also a guy who is a straight up d-bag who will flat out tell Chucky STHU and "No." Believe it or not, that was half the reason why Gruden enjoyed the success that he did in Oakland, because Dearly Departed (*scoff... choke... flat out unbridled laughter*) Uncle Cryptkeeper's stance was "these are the guys I like, so these are the guys you're getting... now make them work."
     
  22. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    First, eating babies is out of the question, it's impossible to put ownership in debt unless they're driving blind, and breaking rules is great if you can get away with it.

    More to the point, if you're going to tout building a team through the draft, while spurning >$3 million FA pickups, then you've gotta do better than AJ has in the draft. Hell, even AJ has said the same thing. I'm not talking about being there every year (like the Steelers and Patriots because why should we aspire to be like them), I'm talking about 3 out of 4 years having a record of right around .500.

    Further, I could use Canepa 'logic' to make a case for keeping Norv. After all, he's had a winning record. He got us to the AFC Championship game once, who's to say he can't do it again? If AJ is a worthy GM, talent is in the pipeline, and Norv has proven he can win with talent! Just tough out a few .500 years and we'll see a great team.
     
  23. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    Nope. But at least give me credit for giving you the inspiration to homer the guy ;)
     
  24. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    Sounds kinda like bringing in Cowher as HC. ;)
     
  25. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    Or Gruden, Fisher, etc etc etc.
    But if the Spanos Clan wants to make a splash, sell tickets, and get stadium votes, it's what they'll do unfortunately.
     
  26. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    [​IMG]
     
  27. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    #anotherconcavi ;)
     
  28. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    I'm know that, as an owner, you have to be conscious of ticket sales. Certainly all owners point to that as one of their top profit areas. The issue in San Diego (and some other spots) is that, unlike a fan base like GB, Pittsburgh, DC, & some others, there are plenty of folks who will just stop going to games or supporting the team if it isn't winning. Those other clubs that I mentioned are going to sell out all of the time because their fans stick with them through good & bad.

    Griping is one thing. Bailing is another.
     
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  29. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely, though it's interesting that some of those organizations keep their foot on the pedal even while they're selling out. Likely because profit margin isn't their only objective. Or they realize that if you want to have a long-term viable fanbase, you need a long-term viable dedication to winning (which doesn't explain the Packers selling out between the Lombardi and Favre eras--but GB is an anomaly).
    The oft-cited "what the **** else are you going to do in Pittsburgh/Green Bay/etc" isn't a bad theory either, though.
     
  30. ThunderHorse17

    ThunderHorse17 Lone Wolf

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    eh.

    Even back when we were starting to win the AFC W it didnt strike me as ANYTHING to go get a tshirt about... NOW when we win the AFC Crown, ill get that shirt that is worth sayin something... West division champs.... yea that dont sound like it means diddly poo. (considering how talented this division of ours is)

    Sorry Blue, you need those shirts to die, dead memories anyway.
     

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