I wrote it in my previews, I sensed this several months ago when the man was hired, and I’ll say it again now because just about every prognosticator has lost his or her goddamn mind and decided that the Chargers will win the AFC West despite the presence of one Norval Eugene Turner.
My expression of disbelief is not pure Bronco homerism, although there is some of that. What San Diego and G.M. A.J. Smith did by hiring this retread is ensure the team at least two extra dumb losses during the season, and in a season where the top two teams in the division are capable of winning double-digit games, that’s fatal to division title hopes. The folks at The Coach Is Killing Me understand — hell, any and all Redskins fans are aware. On the sideline, Turner often looks like he aspires to be a has-been; as a head coach, he is akin to a failed car salesman — he can tell you how it works, build it back up so it works, but he is unable to tell you why it’s the best model, what features make it stand out, or why you should buy it, and what he’ll do to help you finance the purchase.
The NORV! Effect is similar to, if you believe the silly body spray ads, spraying yourself with this off-brand variety of fragrance and watching all the women run for cover rather than try to rip your clothes off — or, if you prefer, dunking yourself in Sex Panther. It is a repellent for victory, attractive to defeat. Yes, the Chargers are stacked enough on both offense and defense to repel some of the stench of failure, but the musk of NORV! will waft all over this team, waiting for the inevitable collapse that costs them the division and forces them into another early playoff exit (just watch when a Ted Cottrill-coached defense becomes a liability in formerly solid sections.)
The common saying is that coaching in college football is everything, and it doesn’t mean quite so much in the pros. The truth is somewhere in between. Do you think Peyton Manning develops his offensive system that decimates without having the same offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in Indianapolis, with Tony Dungy performing oversight? Stability in the coaching ranks is a valuable thing, and the Chargers lost both their coordinators before firing Marty Schottenheimer and hiring Norval. This will not end well.
It’s why I continue to push for the Broncos being the obvious pick to win the West. If Mike Shanahan cannot outcoach NORV!, the Herminator, and Lunch Money by bringing Jay Cutler along and providing the holes to get Travis Henry his 1,000+ in rushing, he ought to question his own skill as a head coach.
Photo: AP/Ross D. Franklin