Norv Turner's reign as the Head Coach of the San Diego Chargers has just three days left. After the Bolts get back from their game against the Raiders, Turner will be fired. It will either happen on Sunday night or Monday morning. "The Norv Turner Years" will end, whether it be with a whimper or a bang.
The players will respond by praising Norv. He was nothing but good to them, and they failed to live up to their end of the "player's coach" bargain (which is to be on point themselves without the threat of fire and brimstone). There will be lots of interviews with big name guys, and at least one black guy (hello, Raheem Morris!), and hopefully a quick hire so San Diego isn't left holding the bag at the end.
Norv Turner's 5-year career with the Chargers is his second-longest tenure, two years short of his 7-year stint as Head Coach of the Washington Redskins. He has spent 6 of his 21 years as a Head Coach or Offensive Coordinator in San Diego, and over those 6 seasons the team has won more than 60% of their games and 3 division titles.
Since going 2-1 in the playoffs in his first season, taking the team to the AFC Championship to face the undefeated New England Patriots, Turner has gone 1-2 in the playoffs and has missed the playoffs altogether in the last two seasons.
My brain always takes a while to process things. I know what's going on, whether it be a Coach getting fired or a family member dying, but it's like my emotions don't know which side to take until the dust is settled many months later. I don't know how I'm going to feel about the Norv Turner years as a Chargers fan, but I imagine it will be much the same way I feel about Ryan Leaf (BFTB - "tons of potential lost, mostly due to terrible luck", everyone else - "he sucks!").
I'll probably spend the next decade defending Norv, pointing out to angry Chargers fans that Norv got just the tail-end of LaDainian Tomlinson's career and was handed a crappy new Defensive Coordinator annually. The Special Teams failures of 2010 were not his fault. The injuries on the o-line in 2011 and the d-line in 2009 were not his fault. Serious injuries to Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers and Tomlinson heading into the Patriots game were not his fault.
Was he the best Coach in the league? Of course not. Was he the best Chargers coach ever? No, but I don't think he'll ever be as bad as people want to make him out to be. I understand that it makes it easier to cast him aside if you believe that he's an awful coach, but the truth is that Norv Turner is an average to above-average coach in the NFL and got caught in a bit of a pickle in San Diego. That's not to say he's blameless, but the blame is not entirely on him.
I also think it's too early to start talking about the next coach. Fire Norv, start interviewing guys, get an idea of who is available and how interested they are before asking me who I think the Chargers should hire. Until we've reached that point, I will continue to answer that question with "Vince Lombardi".
My game preview tomorrow will be dedicated to Norv. I expect Norv to pull out every trick in the book as an audition for his next job. I expect the Chargers to blow the Raiders out and the players to play with the same fire that we, the fans, saw against the Ravens. I expect it will make all of us feel the same way about the 2011 Chargers team as I feel about the entire Norv tenure, which is disappointed in the amount of potential squandered.