In the wake of the Chargers’ 8-8 flop last season, there was reasonable speculation about the futures of both general manager A.J. Smith and coach Norv Turner.
Both survived, but the mandate seemed shaky, and Smith has taken on a win-or-else mentality this year.
He may be right, but Kevin Acee, a former beat writer/now columnist for U-T San Diego (that’s a newspaper in California, not a community college in Texas) wrote that Smith should be safe, even if the Chargers miss the playoffs for a third straight season.
On the whole, Smith’s tenure has been good. They’ve won games, made the playoffs, even if they haven’t progressed far in them. In Chargers history, that’s worth something.
Acee admits he didn’t ask Dean Spanos for a ruling on this column, but he’s been around the team long enough to be familiar with the way Spanos works.
And in writing that Smith could survive another disappointment even if Turner doesn’t, it establishes the pecking order.
The Chargers, on paper, have been a talented team. In the NFL, if you have a quarterback, you have a chance, and they’ve been consistent contenders with Philip Rivers at the helm.
That puts it back on Turner, and from the sounds of things, he’ll be the one that takes the blame if things don’t reverse course this year.
Smith’s more than a bit of a grouch, and that willingness to be the bad guy probably serves him well, because it keeps his boss from feeling the heat. And though he’s mockingly referred to in league circles as “The Lord of No Rings” for his imperious attitude, it sounds like Smith’s more secure than his recent record would indicate.