In the end, Chargers president Dean Spanos has decided to love the ones he’s with.
Amid rampant reports of sweeping changes in San Diego, the team has announced that coach Norv Turner and G.M. A.J. Smith will return in 2012.
“Bottom line, I believe these two men give us the best chance to get back to the playoffs,” Spanos said in a team-issued statement. “A.J. Smith is the best man to improve our roster, and Norv Turner is the best man to lead that roster on the field.
“Together, we have stability and experience that’s hard to find in the NFL. They’ve both been in this league a long time. I don’t think there is anything they haven’t seen or experienced. They’ve led us through some difficult situations.
“As we’ve seen throughout Norv’s tenure and particularly this past season, the players believe in him, respect him and play hard for him. When we went through that tough stretch, no one quit. The team kept playing hard, and that’s a tribute to Norv’s leadership and the respect the players have for him.
“Now we will take a hard look at everything, from player evaluation to coaching to the rash of injuries we’ve suffered in recent years. Injuries have killed us. And no one is ever perfect in this business. Player evaluation isn’t an exact science. We need to improve across the board and I’m going to make sure we do.
“We all have our quirks and faults, but I want A.J. and Norv on my side. They are the right men to help us win a championship.”
Possible Translation? “I know they’re both a little goofy. But If I would have fired these guys, there’s no guarantee I would have gotten anyone better.”
And let’s not be naive. Spanos undoubtedly gauged the interest of guys like Bill Cowher and/or Jon Gruden, who would have infused excitement, sold tickets, and ultimately helped lay the foundation for a new stadium. Presumably, both men politely said no and thanks.
Without a chance to land a superstar coach, Spanos apparently opted not to clean house, paying Turner for two years and Smith for three and news guys going forward who may not do any better.
Let’s also be extra-cynical. Maybe Spanos actually wants to move the team to Los Angeles. What better way to do it than to make a move (or, more accurately, not make a move) that will be horribly unpopular with the fan base?