Turner Downplays Expected Last Week As Chargers Head Coach
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Norv Turner’s tenure as coach of the Washington Redskins ended just shy of seven full seasons when he was fired with three games left in the 2000 season.
The Oakland Raiders gave him the heave-ho after he coached them from 2004-05.
So maybe that’s why Turner says he hasn’t given much thought to what’s expected to be his last week as coach of the San Diego Chargers.
Turner is expected to get fired as soon as the season’s over because the Chargers will miss the playoffs for the third straight year.
General manager A.J. Smith, who’s let the roster disintegrate from one that had been packed with Pro Bowlers to one that gets pushed around a lot, is expected to get the boot along with Turner.
“I’m not really giving it a lot of thought,” Turner said Monday, a day after the Chargers beat a team even more dysfunctional than they are, the New York Jets, 27-17.
“Obviously there’s a lot of speculation that way and I know people assume that. As I said to our team, probably four or five weeks ago, this is really an outstanding group of people, aside from what they are as football players. I enjoy being around these guys a great deal. I think they enjoy each other. I think that’s why they’ve stayed together and continue to play hard and prepare at the level they have.
“I’m going to enjoy the week in terms of we come back in Wednesday morning and start preparing,” Turner said. “Obviously we’re playing a divisional rival. You’re playing the Raiders, so we’re just getting everything we can out of this week, enjoy each other, then we’ll see what happens.”
Turner was Smith’s signature hire after the authoritarian GM won a power struggle with old-school coach Marty Schottenheimer following the 2006 season.
Turner, who was 24 games under .500 as a head coach following his stints at Washington and Oakland, was seen by many outsiders as someone who would do whatever Smith wanted.
Turner’s regular-season record as a head coach is 113-122-1. He was 49-59-1 in Washington, 9-23 with Oakland and is 55-40 with the Chargers.
Overall, he’s 4-4 in the playoffs.
San Diego reached the AFC championship game in his first season, 2007, and then went 1-1 in the playoffs the following season.
As the AFC’s No. 2 seed with a 13-3 record in 2009, the Chargers were embarrassed at home in the playoffs by the wild-card Jets, 17-14.
They haven’t been back to the playoffs, and are only 23-24 since then.
Turner and Smith were given a reprieve by team president Dean Spanos after the Chargers missed the playoffs last year.
Spanos isn’t expected to be benevolent this year, especially after seeing four games blacked out due to fan anger and apathy, including the last three in a row.
Spanos has said he’ll decide on Turner and Smith’s fates after the season.
However, Turner said Monday: “I don’t think you sit down after the season and make your mind up. I think there’s a process that’s going on as you go through a period of time.”
Asked how he thinks it’ll turn out, Turner said: “I don’t think it matters what I think.”
The Chargers (6-9) finish at home against the Raiders (4-11) on Sunday. That game is expected to sell out, thanks largely to Raiders fans.
In recent comments, Turner seems to have second-guessed decisions by Smith.
During Sunday’s TV broadcast, the commentators mentioned that Turner said that of the 18 offensive linemen used the past three years, maybe five were capable of being starters in the NFL.
Asked about that Monday, Turner said: “Again, when you get into those quotes, I didn’t hear the different things people said. I know we’ve had a lot of different offensive linemen play. And a lot of them who have played for us have not been starters before or after they played here. So that’s kind of what I would go by. But I certainly would not get into that deal of evaluating because when you start having injuries you do the best you can in terms of putting people in there.”
Last week, when discussing the various reasons why the Chargers missed the playoffs the past three years, he mentioned that “we’ve lost really good players to free agency.”
Among the many players who’ve left in recent seasons were Darren Sproles and Vincent Jackson.
Asked Monday if he was happy with the rosters he’s been given by Smith, Turner said: “I think everyone here has worked hard to do the best we can and make it work. Sometimes you make moves that work out and sometimes they don’t.”