Sunday, September 23, 2007

1-2 - How do we fix this problem?

After watching what has become a consistent story with the Chargers - get up early, lose in the 4th quarter - my first thought was, "Is available?" (As it turns out, it's owned by a Cybersquatter who happens to own for several coaches.)

In any event, my first thought after watching yet another Chargers meltdown that we need to jettison Norv Turner, and jettison him now while we still have a chance to recover this season. After all, one is taught when troubleshooting a problem to find out what has changed, which will reveal your problem. The coaching staff changed - pretty much the entire staff from the Head Coach to the Water Distribution Manager - and it seems that they would be the problem. Or are they?

Certainly, Norv Turner was not the first choice by the Chargers. After all, his 59-84 career record, and having only 3 more winning seasons* as an NFL head coach than I do, is certainly nothing to boast about on a resume. However, the Chargers management didn't fire Marty Schottenheimer until after our Offensive and Defensive coordinators (and TE coach) were hired away by other teams. They said the reason they kept Marty was because they didn't anticipate losing a lot of their coaching staff. Clearly these people don't pay attention to NFL history, because the NFL has a tradition of teams stealing coaches from other winning teams, and at 14-2 the Chargers were the winningest of teams. How they couldn't see the writing on the wall is beyond me; SportsCenter had story after story about the Chargers coaches being lusted after.

By the time Marty was deservedly shown the door for his inability to win a playoff game, every other team that felt they had a need at head coach had filled their positions leaving behind retreads of retreads. Norv Turner was not, in my [not so humble] opinion not the best option left. One wonders if offering Bill Cowher (who loves teams with a strong running game and a 3-4 defense, which the Chargers have (or had)) enough money would have lured him out of retirement. After all, this was the 14-2 Chargers - a gift for any head coach. But the Chargers hadn't planned on firing their coaching staff, and wanted continuity. Norv Turner did have a connection with this team; he was the Offensive Coordinator in 2001, and allegedly installed the offense that the Chargers ran in the past (I'm not quite certain what offense it is we're seeing now.)

When they fired Marty, little did I think they would make the colossal mistake of hiring Norv Turner. Having said that, there are other factors at work.

Our two losses are to New England and Green Bay. The Patriots, cheaters or not, are still among the best (if not the best) teams in the league. Losing, or getting stomped in our case, doesn't necessarily indicate that we have problems. The Packers have started to turn the corner (and were my pick to win the NFC North), and Lambeau is still a difficult place for visitors to win football games in.

And our problems are fixable.

We need to figure out ways to get LT the ball. I haven't seen the same use of misdirection and pitches that have been successful in the past. Screen passes and passes out to the flat act as long hand-offs, and usually match LT up with an undersized DB.

We need to establish our pass rush again. Our secondary is still week. We were able to disguise this by way of our pass rush. Getting back to sending 5 and 6 after the QB on a regular basis will serve us well.

Norv doesn't necessarily have to go now. Our schedule does ease up a little, with a trip through the entire struggling AFC West coming up, and 2 of the 3 games at home. A 3-0 sweep of our division heading into the bye week puts us in a much better position that we are right now.

However, losing even one (or *shudder* two) of these games that we're supposed to win if we are in fact one of the best teams in the league, will spell the end of our season. The AFC is simply too good for a .500 team to make it into the playoffs, and that is the best we could hope for at that point.

In the NFL, you normally only get a few years before eventually the salary cap and age catches up with you. The Chargers are well positioned for the future, with a very young squad, and players under contract for years to come. But that doesn't magically give us time to rest on our laurels. If Norv can't turn this around, he will have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt he's incapable of leading this team to the promised land. At that point it will be time for him to go.

Immediately after the season.

By the end of December.

And did I mention that Bill Cowher is still unemployed?

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