Some questions can never be answered. Where is Jimmy Hoffa buried? How does Hugh Jackman keep getting cast in
movies? Why did Arrested Development get canceled? Where these questions have underlying and, possibly, multiple answers, one question does not. That is, why does Norv Turner still have a job in San Diego? And an even better one; why was he ever hired?
After being hired in 2007, Turner took over a Marty Schottenheimer team that went 14-2 the year before. Turner’s team lost three of its first four games of the season. They would win their final six games on their way to an 11-5 record, and their first playoff win since 1994. They would eventually lose to the New England Patriots in the AFC Title game. But even with the loss, hopes were high in San Diego.
2008 would start even worse. The Chargers lost five of their first eight going in to the bye week. They would come out of the bye week losing three of four and, had they not been playing in the AFC West, all hope would be lost. They would win the division with an 8-8 record, holding the tie-breaker over the Denver Broncos. They would defeat the Colts for a second straight year, but would lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second-round of the playoffs.
In 2009 the slow start trend would continue, where San Diego would lose three of their first five. But then they rattled off 11 straight wins on to a 13-3 record and a first round bye in the playoffs. The bye would be meaningless as the Jets would advance to the AFC Championship game with a 17-14 victory. Charger owner Alex Spanos would reward Turner’s consistency with a three-year contract extension through 2013, on January 19th
In 2010, the Chargers would finish 9-7, just missing the playoffs, where four of their losses were by seven points or less. In 2011, the Chargers would get off to a hot start winning four of their first five games, and everyone thought the problems were fixed. San Diego would come out of the bye week losing their next six games, before winning four of their final five. The Broncos got their retribution from 2008, holding the tie-breaker this time over the chargers for the AFC West crown.
Aside from the fact that Norv Turner is a perennial loser (in 2010 he recorded his 100th
loss nearly a month and a half before his 100th
win), he just never seems to have what it takes. He has a stud quarterback in Phillip Rivers, a secondary that ranked in the top half of the NFL in passing yards allowed, and a pro bowl running back in Ryan Matthews. But his coaching has never translated in to winners.
In his stint with the Redskins from 1994 to 2000, he recorded one playoff birth and one NFC East Title. In his two-year layover in Oakland, who were two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, he compiled a 9-23 record. Turner has coached the most games in NFL history among head coaches with an overall losing record. He has won a division title in four of the 14 years as a head coach with no Conference Championships.
There aren’t many reasons Turner is holding back the Chargers. He has a great offensive mind, helping the 49ers in 2006 rush for 2,172 yards at 5.0 yards per carry, which ranked sixth in the NFL. His defense has lost some of its luster since they had the number one ranked D in 2010. But the Packers and Saints did just fine without a good defense, so what can it be?
The only reason that Norv Turner is holding back the Chargers is the fact that he just cannot win. That’s hard to quantify that but fans know what it means. Wade Phillips couldn’t win in Dallas and it’s appearing Rex Ryan can’t win in New York. For a while, Elway couldn’t win in Denver and Manning couldn’t win in Indy. Marino couldn’t win in Miami and Kosar couldn’t win in Cleveland. Some men just cannot win the big game. Many factors can come in to it whether it is an injury, a bad year, a fumble, an opposing coach, or all of the above.
What ever team Norv is associated with just doesn’t win, plain and simple and until Alex Spanos realizes that, dark days are ahead for San Diego.