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Turner era coming to close as many predicted it would (ACEE)

Discussion in 'American Football' started by CoronaDoug, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. CoronaDoug

    CoronaDoug Official Hater

    Feb 14, 2007
    OAKLAND — It began with a collective “Huh?!” and will end with a resounding “Finally!!”
    The era that was never expected to have a chance will come to a close Sunday in Oakland.
    Norv Turner, the man whose winning percentage is tied as the highest among the 14 head coaches the Chargers have ever employed, is all but certain to be fired next week.

    Even as he has done a remarkable not allowing it to show, Turner knows it.
    Team President Dean Spanos maintains publicly he has not made up his mind, and he is an avowed believer in Turner’s abilities. But Spanos never denied once over the past several weeks that he was evaluating Turner and General Manager A.J. Smith, and sources familiar with Spanos’ thinking over the past month maintain Spanos feels he has no choice but to make a change.

    “There reaches a point of no return,” acknowledged one person in the organization who would like to see Turner remain.

    It was a surreal week at Chargers Park as a sense of inevitability hovered over the team.
    Far from being in denial, Turner answered questions about his status without really answering them. He accepts his fate, but he doesn’t agree with it.
    "I know perception, and I know reality,” he said.
    That is a reference to the mass injuries and roster turnover the Chargers have suffered this season and last.

    Through it all, Turner has maintained a pride in persevering even as he is disappointed in unfulfilled promise. As he has all along, he this week turned the attention to the locker room and praised the men he has led.
    “This team has great accountability,” Turner said. “Because of the perception of me, the feeling the vocal fan has about me, this team could have used me as an out at any time, and they never have.”
    Turner enters Sunday’s game with a 48-31 record as Chargers head coach. Regardless of Sunday’s result in Oakland, he will own the second-best regular-season winning percentage (behind Sid Gillman’s .614) among Chargers head coaches. Factor in his 3-3 postseason record, and Turner will on Sunday night either have the highest winning percentage of any Chargers coach ever or trail Gillman (.600).

    Turner was hired on Feb. 19, 2007, eight days after Marty Schottenheimer was fired.
    That axe fell less than a month after a 14-2 season ended with a stunning loss in the Chargers playoff opener. Schottenheimer’s departure concluded a what Spanos conceded was a “dysfunctional” working relationship between Schottenheimer and General Manager A.J. Smith, much of which played out in the media.

    Arriving with a reputation as one of the best offensive coordinators in the game but with a 58-82-1 career record accumulated during previous head coaching stints with Washington and Oakland, Turner was not a popular choice with fans and his hiring was widely criticized. For whatever conjecture there was about his ability to motivate and whatever instances there were of questionable game management, the overriding theme of the five-year Turner era will be slow starts and furious finishes, as well as frustrating flameouts.

    Turner is 31-12 in regular season games after Halloween, including a 23-5 mark after Thanksgiving.
    But the most damning impression, the ultimate demise of his reign, is a recent dearth of January games.

    The Chargers advanced to the AFC Championship game after the 2007 season, won one playoff game after 2008 and lost their playoff opener after 2009, a defeat that stopped an 11-game winning streak and from which the Chargers have seemingly never recovered.
    Since the start of the 2010 regular season, as injuries have befallen them and personnel misses have caught up to them, the Chargers are 16-15. A six-game losing streak in October and November pushed them to the brink, and last week’s horrendous loss at Detroit assured they will miss the playoffs for a second straight season.

    There are players in the locker room who are ready for change at the top, have been for a while. But there is a core, too, that believes the Chargers might have collapsed if not for Turner’s steady hand at the wheel.

    “Coach did a really good job of just pushing through what nobody had ever been through before,” center Nick Hardwick said. “ (With all the injuries) to keep us in games even and to keep guys so upbeat and positive and continuing to work hard, continuing to stay steady in his work and continuing to push hard. I mean, he’s like a marathon man. He can just keep going and going and going. You know, guys respect the (heck) out of him. I love him, man. I love that guy. He’s just a heck of a man, really. He really is. He’s a good man. I’m proud to have played for him, to be playing for him and I hope to continue to play for him.”

    Ultimately, according to those familiar with Spanos’ thinking, Turner will go because he has to. At some point, an owner has to listen to his constituents, the fans who speak not only through the various media but with their wallets.

    “It’s really a shame because, I mean, the second he got here on the outside everybody was, ‘Why’d we do this?’ ” said quarterback Philip Rivers, a vehement Turner supporter. “It hasn’t been great (the past two seasons), but he’s the winningest coach in the history of this place. That’s all I know. Are we satisfied at 8-8? Absolutely not. Did the Giants go 8-8 before they won the Super Bowl? Yeah, Pittsburgh? Yeah. Teams go 8-8. I mean, teams that are in a funk, they’re 4-12 and 3-13 and they’re 2-14, they’re 5-11. I mean that’s teams that are just like, ‘We can’t get this thing right.’ If this is the rough stretch here -- 9-7, 8-8 -- that’s pretty good.

    “This year has been disappointing for everybody. We’re all disappointed ... but the last eight years has been the best eight years that this franchise has ever had.”


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