Chargers announce Norv Turner, A.J. Smith will return

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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?

135 responses to “Chargers announce Norv Turner, A.J. Smith will return

  1. I like the decision, though.

    It isn’t Turner’s fault Rivers single-handedly blew a few early season games with his struggles. Matter of fact, if that snap wasn’t botched against the Chiefs, the division is the Chargers.

    Smith I’m not so sure about. His track record is iffy at best, and he’s blown several first rounders on Larry English and Ryan Mathews

  2. Way to go, Spanos. “Just win… maybe.”

    You’ve consistently failed to put together a team that can get it done with this crew. Norv took over after a 14-2 season- and have you been even close to that since? No. Have you made a splash in the playoffs? No. You didn’t even MAKE the playoffs this year, despite- for once- getting off to a good start on the season.

    And you want to go through it again?

    Spanos, you deserve for your team to suck if you’re willing to make choices like this. It’s a damned shame that San Diego fans have to suffer along with you.

    (And this is from a Broncos fan- seriously SD, you deserve better than this bunch of idiots.)

  3. That seals it, they are just holding down the fort before they move to L.A. I’m lighting a candle right now for the Chargers fans.

  4. Pretty happy Chiefs fan right here for three reasons:

    1. Denver’s magic appears to have run out as their college offense has been shut down three (about to be four) weeks in a row.
    2. Oakland still gets in their own way and can’t seem to win when it counts.
    3. San Diego management clearly doesn’t want to win a Super Bowl.

    If KC can just improve their offense, they’ll be able to win the West because of their good young defense and slightly easier schedule next year.

  5. The situation in SD reminds me of that great SNL sketch about Keith Richards.

    “Keef can’t be killed wiff conventional weapons…”

    Sub in Norval and it works!

  6. Or maybe he really believes this is the best decision. I don’t know, I’m not a mind reader. That makes 2 things we have in common.

  7. My only guess as to why this happened is that Spanos wasn’t getting the interest back in his team from any high profile coaching candidates.

  8. I’ve never been much of a Norv Turner fan, but I think the Chargers will have a good season next time around.

  9. Dean Spanos just sent a message to the entire NFL that he doesn’t care about winning.

    And what’s worse is that he’ll end up cleaning house next year, but it’ll be as a response to what will likely be 8 home blackouts and thousands of dropped season tickets, not because AJ and Norv have failed to deliver yet again.

    I’m so embarrassed to be a fan of this franchise under this ownership (and this isn’t to discredit any of the players that I admire).

  10. “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. ”

    Well, a nice sentiment but I don’t think either men have experienced winning consistently or a Lombardi Trophy while in the G.M. or HC position respectively. Taking into account that they play in perhaps the weakest division in the NFL, their performances have been less than acceptable.

  11. “Bottom line, I believe these two men give us the best chance to get back to the playoffs.”

    Translation: “Cowher said NO”.

  12. Wow, can the Spanos family sell the team already? This is a horrible decision. We need a whole new regime… Oh wait lets wait for Phillip and Gates to age another year… Great idea. So next year when the Chargers somehow win the AFC west at 7-9, and get knocked out in the first round.. There’ll still be room to get back to that 14-2 shape by 2013??

  13. As a long suffering Raider fan this is good news. Another year the Chargers will under achieve with Norvel….

  14. How does Norv keep holding on to these jobs? Washington, Oakland, San Diego have kept him way past his expiration date and way past when it was obvious that although he is a likable players’ coach, he will NEVER take the team to the next level. I agree with Rex Ryan that if he was hired as HC instead of Norv, he had a better chance of getting them to the SB.

    But then, they are cursed for firing Shotty after he went 14-2.

  15. Good…more losing for the Stupor Chokers! Wonder who they’ll trade to the Saints next year? Seems that’s the only way their players win championships…in New Orleans!!

  16. Another organization run by an inept owner. How can you possibly keep the guy who fires Marty Schottenheimer after he leads them to a 14-2 record and home field advantage in the playoffs(not his fault a selfish DB wanted to showboat instead of hitting the ground) and hire career .500 coach Norv Turner?

    How can you keep the guy who let Michael Turner go and kept an already over the hill and selfish Tomlinson without getting anything in return?
    How can you keep the guy who let Sproles walk away without getting anything in return?

    How can you keep the coach who consistantly gets underachieving results?

    This is why the San Diego Chargers have lost over 30,000 season ticket holders over the last 4 years and will lose another few thousand more this offseason. The team is owned by an old senile daddy who is letting his inept son hire the people like A.J. who is a controll freak and puts himself above winning and the team and hiring Norv who just isn’t head coaching material

  17. San Diego just became Blackout City. Thanks, Dean. Way to have your finger on the pulse of your fanbase when “trying” to get a new stadium built when you’re going to need public funds. I guess Dean was just trying to cement himself in the top 5 worst owners in all of pro sports. Congrats.

    The one thing I do finally understand is why Archie Manning stepped in and refused to allow his son to play for Dean Spanos and AJ Smith. It all makes sense now.

  18. I approve. Who else could they bring in right now? As Mike Pereira has mentioned, Jon Gruden is a blowhard who doesn’t know the rules. Cowher took 15 years to get to a SuperBowl. He’s no god. Jeff Fischer fielded a dirty team responsible for (1) ruining Merriman’s knee, (2) breaking Lorenzo Neal’s leg, (3) spraining Rivers’ MCL and (4) causing turf toe to Gates. No thank you!

    Chargers would be in the playoffs if Rivers hadn’t fumbled that snap. Hell, they’d be in the playoffs if Marion Barber hadn’t ran out of bounds or fumbled the ball in OT against Denver.

  19. Mathews is solid, but he’s nothing special.

    You can find backs with Mathews skill-set just about anywhere in the draft, more often than not. Even as UDFAs

    We’ve seen it time and time again with RBs.

    Unless you’re an Adrian Peterson level talent, no way would I bother with RBs in the first round.

    Even

  20. Not sure how I feel about this. Norv is a great OC, at times genius, but gives off an “Oh well” vibe that the players seem to mimic. And out of respect to Norv, he didn’t have 24 turnovers. Rivers cuts that number by a third (or doesn’t fumble the KC snap) and the Chargers win the West.

    And as long as AJ can draft an impact player (or two) on defense, the Chargers will be right back on top of the West.

    Still, this will not go over well with the fans.

  21. Norv Turner is proving to have almost as many lives as former Detroit Lions head coach Wayne “Big Buck/Rasputin” Fontes, who managed to make several end of the season victory runs–just enough to save his job each season.

  22. Unbelievable. You keep a coach who can’t motivate his players to win until it’s too late. You also keep a general manager who creates distractions for the team (as opposed to troubled players). I feel awful for San Diego Chargers fans right now. There’s no excuse why you guys should continue putting up with this.

  23. Great news. Great decision. No need to upset the apple cart. Stay the course.

    Oh, have I mentioned I’m not a Chargers fan?

  24. For the record I favored a GM/Coaching change, but the decision was probably made after Dean checked to see who was available and probably didn’t get who he wanted to make the move. Why get rid of them just to get rid of them?

    AJ did make the Chargers relevant and Norv is their all-time winningest coach. Don’t forget Marty couldn’t win a playoff game and even though Norv couldn’t lead the Chargers to the playoffs 2 straight years.. Was it all his fault? I mean if Rivers didn’t fumble the snap in KC the Chargers would have won the division.

  25. WOW! This is great news for Raider fans.
    I was scared Chargers would get a eal coach like Bill Cower..
    This news is not good fpr Hue Jackson though, Amy Trask has loves Bill Cowher.
    Maybe Bill might be in Oakland, I like Hue but if Raiders can get Bill Cowher I wont be mad.
    I can’t believe they stuck with Norv.. I don’t think AJ Smith is a bad GM

  26. .

    Game Plan vs Chargers : wait patiently ….and they’ll give you the game. Fumble, interception, blocked kick, muffed punt, presnap penalties, post whistle penalties, out of bounds kickoffs, balk, too many men on the ice ……

    .

  27. Charger fans must be incensed, and rightfully so. These guys (Smith and Turner) are NEVER EVER going to get to the Super Bowl. They inherited an uber-talented team that is now average at best. What the heck is Spanos thinking?

  28. Spanos absolutely has no spine. He might as well sign the team over to AJ Smith because it is clear he is the one that truly owns the team. He has to be the worst owner in the NFL. When the rest of the division is happy about your decision Mr. Spanos, you obviously did the wrong thing.

  29. “How does Norv keep holding on to these jobs? Washington, Oakland, San Diego have kept him way past his expiration date and way past when it was obvious that although he is a likable players’ coach, he will NEVER take the team to the next level. ”

    —-

    You have to meet the man to understand the answer to this question. In my 40 years, he’s possibly the nicest, most likable man I’ve ever met. It’s hard to overstate just how nice this man is. My experiences have taught me that being liked by people goes a long, long way in this world. So I think it’s the answer to your very good question.

  30. If they were in the final years of their contracts they would not be brought back. That was just double talk for “I’m not paying for two coaches and two GM’s”

  31. Ryan Mathews is a bust? With the way he played this season? Raiders fans thanking Spanos for keeping the two together, when they’ve had more success than the Raiders and just kept you out of the playoffs? Raiders fans really have no room to talk right now, because Hue screwed your team over hard as the defacto GM in making that Palmer trade happen. I’d rather take Turner/Smith than Jackson/? with the lost picks.

    I can tell you that the AFC West is going to be fairly mediocre, again, with the Raiders retooling for a QB that was on the downside, KC starting over again and defenses that finally know how to match up with the Tebow gimmick all year. And Spanos probably made the wise decision here: any instability from a coaching change might have ruined the next 1-2 years of smooth sailing to an AFC West division title. Then again, with how crappy that division is going to be, maybe it would have been the perfect time for a change: even a competent coach finding his footing with a new team would have a hard time screwing that up.

  32. Bolts Fan: “Please Mr. Spanos! I don’t wanna get kicked in the nuts again!”

    Spanos: “Listen, you best move your hands out of the way, or not only will your nuts be throbbing but your fingers will get broken. Just take it like a man.”

  33. This is unbelievable! How can these two men keep their jobs? It has to be Spanos wants to run them in the ground and Bolt for megabucks in LA. Why doesn’t GODell investigate Spanos? Probably because they’re in cahoots to get a team in LA even though LA doesn’t want one. And I am not a Charger or AFC west fan.

  34. I would be SO PISSED if I was a Chargers fan. Franchise QB, a stacked roster and A pushover for a HC. I really feel sorry for you guys.

  35. My family has had season tickets for over 18 years, and due to this decision we will no longer keep those tickets. Thanks Spanos!! I hope all you other season ticket holders do the same.

  36. Mr. Spanos,

    The other 31 teams in the league and their fans thank you for your willingness to keep AJ Smith. He’s consistently made available for poaching the best guys on your roster. Vincent Jackson is the next one up for grabs.

    Signed,

    Fans

  37. Dear Jesus, my name is Rich and I am 27 years old. I am a Charger fan. If you have a moment before Tebow’s playoff appearance, will you please hear me out? If I can please have some relief at some point before I die, whenever that may be. Please, football is important to me!

  38. Never have I seen an NFL owner more satisfied with mediocrity. Cross the Chargers off the 2012 threat list.

  39. Norv has one of the worst winning percentages as a head coach. The man is best suited as an Offensive Coordinator. He’ll be the first head coach fired next year!

  40. trbowman, NFL.com has Mathews listed as the 12-ranked back in the league. Despite his timeshare and not being given the full nod ahead of Tolbert until well into the season, he’s 10th in the league in rushing yards. He’s tied at 17th for TDs, largely because the team used Tolbert as their short yardage back. His average per carry of 4.9 is 3rd in the league among backs that had at least 200 carries. Tied for 9th in the league for the number of 20+ yard runs. 3rd in the league (behind only AP and Shady) for backs with over 200 carries in percentage of his runs that went for 1st downs.

    He was drafted in the round he was projected to be. So, if it wound up a bad pick, it reflects more on the GM’s bad luck than lack of vision, as most personnel folks had him rated high enough to justify the selection.

    But Ryan is in his second year. So, yeah, I’ll clown anyone calling him a bust already. I’m a Jets fan. I’ve watched 1st rd RB busts before. This guy is no Blair Thomas.

  41. Above, I said the Chargers have had more success than the Raiders. What I meant was RECENTLY. Obviously, the Raiders are a long and storied franchise with tons of success in the past. I think a strong Raiders team is good for the league. But Hue Jackson crippled chances of that when he pulled off that Palmer trade. Ugh.

  42. You have to meet the man to understand the answer to this question. In my 40 years, he’s possibly the nicest, most likable man I’ve ever met. It’s hard to overstate just how nice this man is. My experiences have taught me that being liked by people goes a long, long way in this world. So I think it’s the answer to your very good question.

    —————————————————-

    So maybe he can convince someone to give him a super bowl! Brilliant!

  43. Bottom line is really this:

    No top HC wanted to come to SD or…

    Hiring a new staff is just too hard for the owner.

    I’ll bet 99% of Chargers fans are pi$$ed.

  44. My prediction is that the Chargers will reconsider retaining Turner.

    They’ll wait until after the Super Bowl and after all the better candidates have taken offers with other teams.

    Then they’ll fire Turner and seek to hire Wade Phillips.

    I know it seems unlikely but that’s what my gut is telling me is going to happen.

  45. I can think of no GM that has squandered more talent nor coach who has wasted the same on the field.

    Jeez what’s a guy gotta do to get fired!

  46. Good… As a fan of a team who is a division opponent of SD this is good news. This means they should still be middle of the road team for the foreseeable future.

  47. and news guys going forward who may not do any better

    Finally we agree “news” guys probably aren’t the right people to run an football team. I think football people would be able to do better though!

  48. Ooh, the Georgia Frontiere maneuver. Put a mediocre product (well, .500 is mediocre, but for Norv’s career win record, I’d argue he’s overachieving at .500) on the field, complain that there’s no fan support and depart for greener pastures. Or greener stadiums. Or stadiums that require no public funding.
    I’ll go out on a limb and say that contrary to A.J.’s words in the wake of the firing of Marty that the regular season DOES matter, especially to season ticket holders.
    Quick survey, are you more inclined to buy season tickets to an 8-8 team or a 14-2 team?
    Spanos is done sinking his own dollars into facilities and is heading the team back to Los Angeles.

  49. WOW…
    the problem is going to be when the Bolts start off 2-5 next year, Dean will decide to make a change mid-season, by then, the whole team will be lost..we will never have a SB during my tenure on this rock..it is a sad, sad day to be a Charger fan…

  50. Success! Another year and my Pats won’t have to worry about the Chargers! God forbid that stud Phillip Rivers get a real coach! That would be trouble for the AFC. Another year and another one and done or no-show playoffs for the Chargers.

  51. The archaic dinosaur 60’s era cookie-cutter stadium- Check

    The fans don’t even support the team when they win- Check

    The near future short trip to relocate this franchise to LA- Check

  52. I wonder if the Chargers are truly as talented as talking heads proclaim them to be…

    Other than Rivers and Jackson….

    On defense is there anybody opposing OCs feel dangerous? No.

    Other than Rivers and Jackson is there anybody opposing DCs plan around? No.

    They are what their record is.. a so-so team. More a fault of lack of talent, than a lack of coaching.

  53. This is Tim Tebow. Praise the Lord! This proves Jesus is our savior! I am the chosen one! My 20 passer rating last week will be enough to beat Norv and AJs Chargers.

  54. Norv runs a great offense.

    Maybe the team needs more yelling but I think that strong leadership from Rivers could take care of that. Plus he obviously cant repeat this year again but thats true regardless of who is coaching.

    They need help on defense in a bad way. Then they are a competitive team.

    Injuries have been an issue and AJ hasnt done much of anything since the BIG drafts of ’03 and ’04. I am not convinced that AJ isnt a bigger problem than Norv.

    Fortunately no one else in the division looks to good for next year so they should be able to run away with it at 10-6.

  55. thank you very much chargers for gracefully bowing yourselves out of contention yet again, GO RAIDERS!!!!!!!!
    3 WINS IN THE LAST 4 MEETINGS, and an improved roster next year, we will have revenge on our minds after that player hating yall did on sunday, GO RAIDERS!!!!!!!!!!!

  56. Oh the dramatics from the (alledged) Chargers ticket holders. If that KC snap doesn’t get botched, the same posters are making plans for a home playoff game this weekend…and given the roll the Chargers were on the last month, who knows.

    Turner may be a better OC than HC, but continuity, especially in a division that was the most volatile in football this year, isn’t a bad thing, especially if your Pro Bowl QB likes the system and the coach and played well at the beginning, and end, of the season.

    And then, you’re not going to get rid of Smith if you’re doing the continuity thing for (an already on the hot seat) Turner.

  57. Norv’s got to have pictures on Spanos or something. The Chargers are underachieving in a mediocre division every year and the prime years of Philip Rivers are also being frittered away. If you’re a Charger fan you’ve got to be angry. Your owner does not want to win a Super Bowl.

  58. I seem to remember hearing insanity defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Enjoy the blackouts, because if fans had little faith in the team before I’d think it will be even worse now.

  59. Another shot of Norvacane for the San Diego fans. As a supporter of all things football, I truly feel sorry for you all.

  60. I never feel sorry for any team, I have been laughing at the Lions and Cubs for years. If any team gets in the way of the teams I follow I wish a pox on that team, without regret.

    That said, I’m actually starting to feel sorry for San Diego fans. He is making the Wilpons look good. This owner knows nothing about what it takes to win, it’s sad really…really.

  61. This decision ensures the Chargers move to LA. Many Charger fans have just had it…incompetent coach, FO, and owner. Autumn weather is too nice in SD to waste time on a rudderless team headed nowhere.

  62. List of Worst GM’s or coaches in sports to keep their jobs much longer than deserved:

    1. Norv Turner
    2. Isiah Thomas
    3. Matt Millen
    4. A.J. Smith
    5. Jeff Ireland

  63. ern215 says:
    Jan 3, 2012 4:21 PM
    thank you very much chargers for gracefully bowing yourselves out of contention yet again, GO RAIDERS!!!!!!!!
    3 WINS IN THE LAST 4 MEETINGS, and an improved roster next year, we will have revenge on our minds after that player hating yall did on sunday, GO RAIDERS!!!!!!!!!!!
    ============

    I agree. Had the Raiders had at least 2 defensive stops last week. Rob Chudzinski would be relocating back to the West Coast.

    This isnt the same Raider team with Robert Gallery at left tackle and losing 13 straight. They’ve figured out the Chargers and have played them tough and physical, had McFadden played, it’d have been a 10-6 club, at the least. It does tell you how valuble Turner is to Phillip Rivers, though – but sooner or later they have to get a legit running game…who gets that first probably wins that division out right.

    If they thought this was a fluke season, they’re wrong, and it doesnt matter if Jared Gaither got off at tackle for them, either….this isnt the same team of L.T. and Shawne Merriman.

  64. The ONLY thing that would make me ‘ok’ with this move is if they fired Manusky. But who am I kidding, if they won’t fire Norv they won’t bother with him.

    At least I had the pleasure of watching them knock the Raiders out of the playoffs. And that is probably what saved Norv’s job. *facepalm*

  65. 3 days before each game next season the Chargers will be begging the disinterested football fans around SD to come see the game to avoid the TV blackout. Way too many other things to do in SD mother than watch the Chargers lose again.

    Spanos needs to be checked for chronic psychotic optimism.

  66. iplaybingowitholdpeopleandwin says: Jan 3, 2012 3:21 PM

    Mr. Spanos,

    The other 31 teams in the league and their fans thank you for your willingness to keep AJ Smith. He’s consistently made available for poaching the best guys on your roster. Vincent Jackson is the next one up for grabs.

    Signed,

    Fans
    _____________________________
    You make a good point. A.J. has a history of messing around with players’ careers to show everyone what a tough guy he is. Well, now the Chargers have a lot of holes to fill in their roster, and that O-line is going to need to be completely revamped…completely rebuilt if Hardwick retires. They can only do so much to fix those problems in the draft. They could try to fill some of these holes with trades, but after they dangled Vincent Jackson as trade bait before and had teams working with him to come up with contract terms only to tell them they changed their minds could make other teams leery of investing time and resources to work with the Chargers to get a trade done. They can dip into the FA market, but A.J.’s history of messing with players’ careers could very well make the better F.A.s hesitant to sign with SD.

  67. Living in Jacksonville, I refuse to speculate on teams moving. That being said I hope San Diego keeps their team – the same for Buffalo, St. Louis, etc.

    San Diego will be fine either way. It’s a cool city with lots to do.

    Stay classy, San Diego.

  68. This is great! As a San Diego fan I can already begin making alternative plans for January 2013 since I know that I won’t have to worry about wasting my time watching Charger playoff games (and losses).

  69. Been checking KC, Denver, & Raiders (and other) message boards. The consensus is fans of every other team are (of course) very pleased with this news. This is how you can tell this is a terrible decision Spanos–other team’s fans are happy about it and your team’s fans are not.

  70. cantonbound13 says:
    Jan 3, 2012 4:40 PM
    List of Worst GM’s or coaches in sports to keep their jobs much longer than deserved:

    1. Norv Turner
    2. Isiah Thomas
    3. Matt Millen
    4. A.J. Smith
    5. Jeff Ireland

    **************************************************************

    Matt Millen HAS to be #1

  71. Norv would make a decent college coach,but a pro coach he is not.Then again he has no trouble beating the Raiders year in and year out.Last year we got em but in the biggest game of the year Norv and co took it to us.

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