Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Luckiest Coach on the Face of This Earth

[Yes, I know I'm a couple of days late on this, but dealing with the sick yesterday kept me away from the computer. So much like Big Al - welcome back, good buddy - I'm catching up on a few things I wanted to chime in on.]

I didn't catch Norv Turner's introductory press conference as San Diego Chargers head coach, but I can only imagine the first sentence began something like this: "Today... I consider myself... the luckiest..." Has any NFL coach ever feel into such a sweet gig @$$-backwards like this?

(Barry Switzer is a name that comes to mind, but at least he produced a head coaching record to be proud of at Oklahoma. And he got a Super Bowl out of his Cowboys gig, which sets the bar pretty high for ol' Norv.)

This sort of reminds me of the Detroit Pistons firing Rick Carlisle after two straight 50-win seasons. That looked like a potentially crazy move, also made largely because of personality clashes. Of course, a key difference is that Joe Dumars knew he had Larry Brown standing by while he made the announcement sitting side-by-side with Carlisle in what had to be one of the most bizarre pressers Detroit has ever seen.

As many have pointed out, Turner's record as a head coach is, well, not good. Yet here he is, taking over what was probably the best team in the NFL last season, largely because the Chargers' front office doesn't want to rock the boat. (Firing the coach who led them to that 14-2 record wasn't exactly the way to avoid choppy waters, however.) That's all this really is, right?

The Chargers obviously have a good thing going, and at this point in the offseason, they just wanted to bring in a guy who could - at the bare minimum - maintain the status quo. Turner knows that offense, and he has a good history of working well with quarterbacks and running games (as if LaDainian Tomlinson could get much better). So that should be covered. And on the defense, Norv's new right-hand man, Ted Cottrell, is familiar with the scheme and should keep it running smoothly. But just in case, Ron Rivera's on staff to step right in, if needed. This is head coaching by committee. If Norv can't motivate the locker room (as Jerry Rice has asserted), then this cafone has two capos to help him out with that. (Okay, I realize the mafia terminolgy's a bit much here.)

So if this set-up can yield a playoff win (and Norv has at least done that), then A.J. Smith and Dean Spanos can high-five themselves over glasses of chardonnay for making such an astute hire. But these championship windows don't stay open very long, so if the Chargers have blown it by making an utterly safe hire, it could be one of the all-time botch jobs. And that roster deserves a hell of a lot better.

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