Response to Fan's Anti-Turner Article

A couple days ago, the Union-Tribune appeared to be desperate for some online content. So instead of asking one of the BFTB writers to do something for them (like they should have done), they chose a fan, seemingly at random, to write a short article debunking facts in Turner's favor.

Well as luck would have it, we here at BFTB have also been desperate for some online content, and so I've been chosen, seemingly at random, to craft a response.

•Turner has more playoff wins than Sid Gillman and George Allen combined.

Wow. Could that be right? Yes, it is, but it’s also misleading.

Allen lost a lot of playoff games. It kind of defined who he was. You know, the Marty Schottenheimer of the 1970s. Additionally, there were fewer playoff rounds in the ’60s and ’70s. In some cases, a lot fewer. As in one.

He's right, but I'm not sure the point he's trying to make. Does the fact that George Allen lost a lot of playoff games make it less impressive that Turner has won more? If you want, we can look at how many times their teams made the playoffs. So far, Norv is 3 for 3 in that category. That's pretty good.

•Turner has a better winning percentage with the Chargers than Bill Walsh had with the 49ers or Chuck Noll had with the Steelers.

Walsh coached 10 years with the 49ers, Noll 23 with the Steelers, Turner three so far with the Chargers. This is like comparing apples and applesauce. If you include the time Turner spent in Washington and Oakland, his winning percentage drops significantly, well below the other two men.

Yeah, and if you add in Bill Belichick's time with Cleveland, his winning percentage takes a hit too. I'm not sure why it's relevant to look at Turner's record with other teams when we're talking about his performance with the Chargers. It's true that Turner only has had 3 seasons here, and we'll have to wait a few more to really see if he'll have the same kind of lasting success that Walsh and Noll did. But so far so good, right?

•Turner led the Chargers to a 13-3 record with little or no running game.

Absolutely true. Trouble is, Turner inherited the second best running game in the league and turned it into the worst. (OK, next to worst.) LaDainian Tomlinson went from a league-best 1,815 yards in 2006 under Schottenheimer to 730 this year, and from an NFL-record 28 touchdowns rushing to 12.

Turner has stated repeatedly that he has a commitment to running the football. What he hasn’t said is he has a commitment to running the football well. Look, when you take the No. 2 rushing attack and turn it into the 31st, you’re either exaggerating your commitment or you don’t know what you’re doing.

The author seems to be blaming Tomlinson's decline and offensive line injuries on Norv Turner. I'm not sure that's fair.

•The poor running game isn’t Turner’s fault; LT has lost a step.

Yes, he has. But continually slamming him into the line doesn’t help. He’s not built for that, never was. In fact, any sane person would stop doing it at some point. Or, to quote Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Couple issues here. First, most rushing attempts, especially by featured backs, come between the tackles. It's true of any team, and not unique to Turner's offense. Second, Tomlinson has historically been effective running between the tackles. You may have subjective memory of him making great runs to the outside, but in reality those aren't the majority. Third, runs to the outside with Tomlinson are going to be even worse than runs between the tackles, because his decline is most apparent in his quickness, acceleration, and balance. You need those things for successful runs to the outside, and LT just doesn't have them anymore. Lastly, that Einstein quote is just a cheap way to take a jab at Turner.

A legit point would have been Turner continually calling running plays at all when behind late, which are really just a waste of time. But that point wasn't made.

•Turner has the best winning percentage in Chargers history.

Well, why wouldn’t he? At 14-2, the Chargers were one of the most talented teams in the league when Turner took over and few coaches have been given the keys to a juggernaut like that right off the bat. I could be wrong, but I think a dancing bear could go 8-8 with this team. Which, if you recall, Turner did last year.

Again with 14-2. Look, the fact is the 2007 team wasn't the same as the 2006 team, in terms of personnel and skill. 2008 and 2009 were even more different. It's just an unfair comparison. Besides, 2007 was a pretty successful season, wasn't it? And are you really going to blame Turner for 2008 when just about everything that could go wrong did? And despite it all the team still got to the post-season and won a game. Again, pretty successful, wouldn't you say? The idea that Turner was handed some sort of super-team in 2007 is just silly. The Chargers weren't, and aren't, that talented. People just like to talk as if they are.

•Unlike Schottenheimer, Turner is cool under pressure.

I don’t know if “cool” is the right word. “Aloof” or “spaced” might be better, but regardless, it’s worked — until Sunday. Sunday, Turner was anything but cool. Sunday, he was a sputtering basket case. He almost jumped headfirst into a pile for a loose ball at one point.

And what are we basing this opinion on? Your subjective opinion that he looks funny? Really, this isn't much of an argument.

•Turner is an offensive genius.

True, he is. Sometimes. Other times, not so much. Sunday’s loss to the Jets falls into the “not so much” category. I think we need to find out if Turner has a twin brother and if the two like to pull the old twin switcheroo from time to time because the man we see on the sidelines is not always the same guy. He can’t be.

Let's not give any credit to the Jet's #1 defense. Let's not give any responsibility to dumb mistakes committed by the players. Let's not give any credit to the man who ran the best, most successful offense in football in 2009 despite an injury-riddled offensive line and zero running game.

Look, I wish Norv Turner well. I want him to win a Super Bowl with San Diego. I’m not even sure I want him fired anymore. (Yeah, like that was going to happen.)

But what I really want is some honest, unvarnished criticism of the guy, so maybe, just maybe, he won’t continue to make the same mistakes year after year and maybe the Chargers will finally win that Super Bowl we all crave.

Well, you've got your criticism. Though I'm not sure which mistakes he's made you're referring to. We can talk about failure to adjust the gameplan, or being too stubborn with the run. We can also talk about dumb timeouts and challenges (though not this season), but none of that was brought up.

Hope that helps.

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