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