Norval Turner - coach of the Vegas' oddsmakers' preseason favorites to make the Super Bowl, the San Diego Chargers. Raise your hands if you think that amicable old Norv is overmatched for the job. OK, Redskins and Raiders fans, stop screaming, we see you. And we can feel your bitterness seeping through.
Seriously, I think Norv is in a no-win situation here. Because as remarkable as it seems for a man with his historically awful winning percentage as a head coach, some people seem to be giving him the benefit of the doubt. Pointing to the, shall we say, unorthodox owners he worked under in Dan Snyder and Al Davis, and his unquestioned success as an offensive coordinator, there seems to be a faction that thinks he can succeed. And his name isn't Marty Schottenheimer, so he's sure to get along swimmingly with GM A.J. Smith, who with every passing day, seems more and more like one of the most powerful GMs in the league. To me, that sounds like he's only set up to fail because the expectations are so enormous. He has everything he could want going for him. Now he just has to win.
He inherits a team that went 14-2, one of only 21 teams in league history to have done as well in a 16-game regular season. The way, I see it, he faces three scenarios and the public reaction that will accompany each:
A.) Chargers miss the playoffs - Norv's legend as an incompetent head coach grows.
B.) Chargers get into the playoffs and lose - Why did we hire this guy to do what Marty Schottenheimer could do with his eyes closed?
C.) Chargers win the Super Bowl - With that roster, he's supposed to win it all. He becomes the Barry Switzer of his generation, winning with a team that another staff so brilliantly built up.
Now, the above reactions are probably at least a little unfair, especially Option C, as Norv has at least accomplished quite a bit in the NFL on his own merit, which is not something that Barry Switzer can say. But I think you would hear those reactions to each of those scenarios.
As for me, I think that Norv will take San Diego to the playoffs and lose this coming year. The Chargers are too talented not to make the playoffs, but I can't see them winning it all. I don't even think I see them making the Super Bowl. It's become more apparent with every passing year, that in the hypercompetitive NFL, you need a great head coach who can put you over the top. Colts players will attest to the importance of Tony Dungy this year. So will the Steelers to Bill Cowher's motivational techniques that rallied them to a title in 2005.
I just don't think that Norv has that certain something that pushes his team over the edge. You know that phrase that's used that players "will run through a wall" for their coach? You never hear that applied to Norv Turner. He's got all the tools he could ask for, now's the time to put it all to good use.
san diego chargers