- Created on Monday, 31 December 2012 13:13
When he fired head coach Marty Schottenheimer after the 2006 season, San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith banked that replacement Norv Turner would be able to lead the franchise into the Super Bowl.
That never happened — and now Smith and Turner are out of jobs as well.
The Chargers announced Monday that both men were fired after the Chargers (7-9) failed to reach the playoffs for a third consecutive season.
"I thank A.J. and Norv for the determination and integrity they brought to the Chargers each and every day," Chargers president Dean Spanos said in a team-released statement.
"Both Norv and A.J. are consummate NFL professionals, and they understand that in this league the bottom-line is winning. My only goal is the Super Bowl and that is why I have decided to move in a new direction with both our head coach and general manager positions. I am committed to our great fans and we will do whatever we possibly can to achieve that goal."
Turner had initial success with San Diego following the firing of Schottenheimer, whose disputes with Smith and an opening home playoff loss to New England after a 14-2 regular season led to his dismissal. The 2007 Chargers reached the AFC Championship game before falling at New England.
That was as far as San Diego would advance under Turner, whose roster had increasingly less talent by the season. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson, outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, left tackle Marcus McNeill and a trio of running backs (LaDainian Tomlinson, Michael Turner and Darren Sproles) were among the standout players Smith proved unable to adequately replace as they left in free agency or were diminished by injury. Turner compounded the problem with first-round draft picks that failed to meet expectations like wide receiver Buster Davis (2007), outside linebacker Larry English (2009) and running back Ryan Mathews (2010).
The loss of a strong supporting cast had a trickle-down effect on quarterback Philip Rivers. The 47 turnovers Rivers committed in 2011 and 2012 were the most in a two-season span during his nine NFL seasons.
Turner, who had a 56-40 record in San Diego, was previously fired as head coach in Washington and Oakland. Considered one of the NFL's top offensive minds, Turner will be in high demand to fill coordinator vacancies.
UT-San Diego reported that Chargers player personnel director Jimmy Raye is the frontrunner to replace Smith, who became San Diego's general manager in 2003 following the death of John Butler. The Chargers won five AFC West titles under Smith's watch and posted an overall record of 94-58 including the postseason.
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