The dominant teams in football seem to (I am sure there are exceptions) fall into two categories:
This stretch, including last season, has been especially depressing. More depressing is my complete lack of confidence in Chargers front office's ability to make good choices in replacing Turner and/or Smith. Anyway, I have been thinking a lot about what makes a good HC and GM.
Teams with "elite" quarterbacks who can run dominant, "pass first" offenses. I see New England, New Orleans and Indy (prior to P. Manning's injury) and Green Bay in this camp. Detroit may follow is Stafford can continue to develop.
The others are teams that have adequate quarterbacks, but compensate through a solid running game and dominating defenses: Baltimore, Pittsburgh. Others that are trying that: SF, NY Jets. Houston, prior to Schaub's injury, perhaps as well and Chicago (prior to Cutler's and Forte's injuries)
But it seems to me that the scarce resource in the NFL is one of those "elite" QB's. I think Rivers is one of those, whose talents have not been well developed, and, instead, Turner has attempted to run a "balanced" offense, like the 90s Cowboys. Establish the running game, take deep shots. When it works, it is great, but this personnel does not fit.
I look at the personnel surrounding Brees and Brady not that different from San Diego except for the OL. Basically I see good TE's, a line that can pass protect, RB's that do well because the defense has to stop the pass (and they can catch) and WR's that look brilliant but probably are not that great. Build that and then worry about your defense. If the other team cannot stop your passing attack, your defense's expectations are pretty low. If you happen to have a great D, you are in good shape to do very well (like Green Bay currently is).
So, for me, they both Turner and Smith deserve to go, for not building around their core asset, Rivers. I continue to believe Rivers can run a complicated, varied pass first offense. Turner seems to be about the deep threat, then opening up the middle for Gates. You keep the defense offense by steadily running as well. It works well when it works, but we do not seem to dominate and be consistent and Rivers seems to have trouble finding open guys this year. I watch Brady and Brees spread it around, suggesting good variety in the play calling allowing many receivers to participate, making it hard to defend. I don't think you need "elite" receivers to run NE or NO type of offenses. Having very athletic, pass catching TE's does seem key (Graham, Gronkowksi). Gates may be aging, but he can still do it, though I would put a pass catching TE on the draft list.
So beef up the OL, get another TE who can catch and get an offensive coordinator that can create novel, varied passing attack, consistently using a wide variety of receivers and we will be up there with NE and New Orleans. We have Rivers, putting us on a very short list of teams with a dominant QB. I don't know the source of his struggles this year, but I have hard time seeing him struggle running the type of offense the NE or New Orleans runs. Seems like for Turner's offense, all of the pieces have to work together for it work: legit deep threat, healthy TE and OL that can pass block and consistent running game. When those click, they dominate. But when one of those pieces is not there, it stagnates. Aside from the QB and maybe the TE, I don't see one player being critical to those other offenses, assuming you have depth in your OL.