Guest Pass: The Norv Dilemma

By Joe Drews

Norv Turner gets a lot insults thrown his way. He has not brought Chargers fans around the world what was expected, a Championship. Chargers fans are all saying similar statements, “We should have gotten one by now” and “If it wasn’t for Norv, we would be the ones playing in the AFC Championship game this season.” Fans, as evidenced in an earlier article, will spend money just to get their voices heard on their vilification of said coach.

Kevin Acee, of the San Diego Union-Tribune, wrote an article a few weeks ago discussing the possibility that maybe he does not deserve all of these damning statements. Perhaps something else is afoot in Charger nation, and not just a bad coach. He discusses the continuing injuries of the players, the poor play by Phillip Rivers, and the bad play of the special teams last year. According to Mr. Acee, there are many things that could get Norv off the hook. The article is somewhat convincing by showcasing one major point. There is one person who has always, and continues to stand behind Norv. It is someone that most Chargers fans, if not all fans, love.

Phillip Rivers.

Rivers has consistently stood behind his coach with accolades and excuses that it was not Norv who fumbled the snap at Kansas City that would have meant a playoff trip. It was not Norv who threw all of the interceptions and cost a few more games. It was not Norv who went out onto the field and injured all of those players. These are all valid and understandable points. He is right, Norv did not do any of those things.

What remains to be said or seen or even defended is Norv’s ability to motivate and inspire. This, in my opinion, is what makes a great coach. I think most of us can agree that Norv is a fantastic Offensive Coordinator. It is hard to deny his success not only winning Super Bowl’s with the Cowboys, but also with his play design and his knack to use whatever players he has on his roster in perfect formations. The ability to make stars out of running backs, Darren Sproles and Mike Tolbert, are examples.

For as smart as Norv is, he simply does not seem like an inspirational leader.

This season provided the perfect example of what a good motivator and inspirational leader can do for a football team. I give you, the San Francisco 49ers. Look at the roster going into the NFC Championship game. Now look at their starting roster from last year. Are there any major changes? Vernon Davis was on both teams, as was Patrick Willis. Michael Crabtree was a 49er both years, and so was Ted Ginn Jr. You know who else started for the 49ers that everybody wrote off and said was a first round, first pick bust? Say it with me…Alex Smith.

How is Alex Smith playing a game away from the Super Bowl, and Pro Bowl Quarterback Phillip Rivers is not? How do the 49ers go from the laughing stock division, to a possible Super Bowl bound team with essentially the same player roster? There was one major change.

Jim Harbaugh, Head Coach.

That’s the difference. That is what makes a team. Players can do great things with a coach that is inspiring, and a motivator. This is what I do not see from Norv Turner. No, I do not have an inside look of the team dynamics, but I can see the clear difference between coaches such as Jim Harbaugh and Norv Turner. I watch Mr. Harbaugh jumping up and down, showing real emotion out there on the field, clearly motivating each and every one of his players. I do not see that from Norv. I have heard people say “that is not his style” or “he shouldn’t have to do that”. I believe he should have to do that. There needs to be a culture change inside the locker room of the San Diego Chargers. It needs to come from their leaders, Rivers and Norv.

I hope Norv and the Chargers can prove me wrong next year. I am hoping they can succeed next year, and I will never wish for a bad season just so we can lose a coach. I want Norv to show everybody that he is the right coach. I want the Chargers to turn it around and show the league that their window hasn’t closed, their defense is not struggling, and Rivers is not declining.

I want to suggest what should be the Chargers motto for 2012. It needs to be a strength heard around the league. It needs to show a confidence that hasn’t been shown from the Chargers in a long time. It needs to escape the “soft” image they sometimes have and invoke force. I suggest taking and tweaking one of the most infamous movie lines as the Chargers chant. It is for fans, for players, and for coaches to win, and win now, with no more excuses.


Joe Drews

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  • SD_Sports_Fan

    @chargersbuzztap People keep talking about Norv=Offensive Guru, 31.6=Lions avg of points they gave up after the bye. 10 is what we scored?

  • MikeTuck

    Great piece, rivers does stand behind Turner, and I believe in Phillip. Turner is good working with QB’s and a outstanding Offensive coordinator. He just doesn’t inspire the team to greatness. Some would say that these players are proffesionals they shouldn’t need it. Tell that to Lombardi, Parcells and many other winning coaches He is the Chest player, compared to Managers and Coaches of boxers, Teams and other competitors who need a push to believe in themselves. He plays to not lose, safe you might say. The Chargers have a team able to dominate and run up scores if allowed and the play calling is to do just that. Sometimes a person is great at something and pushed into a position he’s not comfortable with. That’s where I put Turner. Smith can fill a roster with great players, but he can’t work with those same people when it comes to contracts. He’s not a people person, John Butler was. AJ Smith makes a great scout. All can be great if in the right job. That’s why great atheles that are smart are valuable, they can play at multible positions. Weddle,Naanee,etc.The Chargers are a rubics cube that is still not complete.

    • gtr_donald

      @MikeTuck Do you know A.J. personally? If not, why do you assume that he isn’t a people person? Just because someone has a reputation, that doesn’t make that reputation true.

  • gtr_donald

    “For as smart as Norv is, he simply does not seem like an inspirational leader.”

    This is the problem with the dissenting Charger fans. That quote is complete conjecture. It seems like someone who sees how Norv acts in press conferences (speaking like a coach and being as vague as possible) or catches snippets of sideline coverage on TV and assumes that is all that there is. If one was smart, one would realize that there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes than what is showed publicly. People really need to stop assuming that they know more than they do, based off of tiny pieces of information.

    How does Bill Belichick act during a game? How does he act during press conferences? He is always monotone during his press conferences and looks completely disinterested during the games. I guess this means that he is not an inspirational coach.

    Do us all a favor and stop assuming what you don’t know.

    • JoeDrews

      @gtr_donald First off, thanks for taking the time to read and post!

      Yes Bill Belichick is inspirational, and his methods have the desired outcome. My point in the article was meant more to show how Norv’s methods are obviously not working, in fact his head coaching styles have never worked. A culture shift needs to happen.

      However, as you mentioned, I do not have inside knowledge of the locker room. I do not know exactly what methods Norv has used. As I wrote in the article, I hope Norv proves me wrong and they can have an amazing season next year!

      Thanks again for reading!

  • MikeTuck

    Smith has built his reputation as abrasive, hard to work with. This coming from the players side, but that doesn’t mean it was just him, this is true. the amount of good players we’ve lost through are General Manager hurts the team. A team is just that, and constant change is not good. All teams through draft and free agency have change, but San Diego has given up alot of great players. He hasn’t drafted all that well, and his ego gets in his way. He’s made some great,great deals, then made themnot so great by letting people go over the dumbest things. You like him and respect him I get that, I don’t that’s it!

    • gtr_donald

      @MikeTuck How do you know that A.J. lets his ego get in the way? That’s an awful lot on conjecture on your end.

      Up until the lockout and the confusion with the new CBA, A.J. was prone to signing Charger players before they became free agents. That was prudent. It wasn’t until two players threatened to hold out and not play that A.J. played hard ball. In that situation, there is blame to had on both sides, but if you look at what happened with McNeill after he reported (he got a new deal), then maybe Jackson should have just reported and let nature take its course.

      Yes, I respect A.J. Smith. And below is the reason why…

      “During Smith’s nine-year tenure as general manager (2003-11), the Chargers have won 88 games and five AFC West titles. Only three teams (New England, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh) have won more games or division titles during that time. During the three seasons prior to Smith’s appointment, the Chargers struggled to a 13-35 record.”

  • MikeTuck

    Joe Drews; That is a fair expression of Turnwer. The Locker room likes him, I bet he’s a great guy. His Coaching style haven’t worked anywhere, but as Offensive Coordinator he’s one of the best. A coodinator is a statistision, a chest player. he’s constantly thinking of ways to over come defensive skeems. A Coach is inspirational, gets the best out each and everyone of his players. He knows what each player does best so he puts them in position to make plays.He fires his team up when their letting up and teaches while he’s yelling at them.Some players respond to disaplend and some to praise, a Coaches job is know which is which so he can get the best out of them. This is why Turner is not a good Coach, if anything is going to help the Chargers in this situation it will be Rivers and other leader/players. The trouble is they don’t decide what personel to play. And them questioning Turner burns time like we saw when Rivers was frustrated at the wrong people being in. They are all good at what they do best.Coaching is not Turners best. Smith would be a great scouting/draft leader but player personnel isn’t his best.

  • MikeTuck

    donald; Non of us are in the locker room or on the field, but just stats doesn’t mean scoreboard, we judge by our personel and the results. In the Fouts era I new Coryells offense and had a good percentage of guessing what was going to be run. Just like Norv isn’t on the oppositions sideline by watching what they’re doing he can figure their defense out.

    We are expressing our opinions based on watching each and every game, plus the games of every other team, what inspires and the way Coaches Coach to get their team to the Superbowl. If I was right on I’d be in the wrong proffesion, it’s speculation to the best of what every one see’s. Insted of attacking a oppinion of another bring out the positives that their missing. But in the end what all Charger Fans want is Scoreboard!!!!

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  • MikeTuck

    donald; exellent my man, and most those wins were with Marty leading them and LT running and a defense that had Cromartie, Merriman, and you could go down the line of losing home Man Edwards before he ran out of gas. We had 8 quality LB’s that were waived or got away in free agency. That’s what I’m telling you. Butler had most of the pieces in place. But Smith has run-off guys with DWI’s Drug problems or those that as big a ego. You’ve got to try and fix those guys by getting them help. Florence isn’t the NFL DB of the year but he’s doing great at Buffalo. Seriously look back and go through year to year after John Butler died. We’ve tryed to fill holes we made ourselves. You can’t play window shopping every year and getting rid of players before you have their spot upgraded. I can see where it’s fun, beating the Jones to a diamond in the rough or a diamond. But when alot don’t cut it and you end up downgrading your just shopping to look good. Not for filling what you really need. The O-line is a perfect example, Now it’s really broken. The Superbowl Teams don’t have high turnovers except retiries.

    • gtr_donald

      @MikeTuck I think you may have a selective memory. You mention Florence, but must have forgot that Smith drafted him!

      “But Smith has run-off guys with DWI’s Drug problems or those that as big a ego.”

      Really? Who? And where are those dudes now? I know Kiel is dead and he was one dude who was dealing drugs, but I’m not sure who else you are referring to.