Sunday, December 4, 2011

San Diego Chargers Should Fire GM Smith When They Fire Norv Turner

It seems quite obvious that the Chargers are going to fire Norv Turner at the end of the season.  It's actually a move that they should have made a few years ago.  They missed out on potentially much greater success had they installed a better coach back when their talent level was higher.

A lot of that blame can go on GM A.J. Smith.  Smith was the guy who hired Turner in the first place, after firing Marty Schottenheimer (a move I did agree with at the time).  He was also the guy that drafted Philip Rivers and then let go of Drew Brees after Brees injured his shoulder at the end of the 2005 season because he had Rivers.

Rivers has been a fine quarterback for the Chargers, but Brees has elevated his game to consistent All-Pro status every year.  The Chargers simply let him go into free agency without attempting to resign and trade him.  They got nothing in return for his leaving.

Smith was also the guy that drafted Michael Turner and then let him go in free agency to the Falcons, getting only a couple compensatory draft picks in return.  How's that running game working out for you now, San Diego?

There's a great point in a Yahoo article here that talks about how Smith's draft day moves in the past few years have cost the Chargers greatly.  He's used multiple draft picks to move up in the draft to select players like Ryan Matthews and Eric Weddle. Not using those draft picks to improve/maintain depth on the team is a big reason why the special teams has struggled so much the past few years.

Smith was also the GM who has played hardball at times with some of the top talent on the team: Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson.  Both players excel at their positions, but Smith set a contract negotiating tone that treated each player's holdout like a slap in his own face.  Gates missed a game because of the contract dispute before he signed (a game the Chargers lost), and Jackson missed half of the 2010 season.  2010, remember, was a year in which the Chargers narrowly missed the playoffs.  If Smith is still the GM after this season, expect Jackson to go to another team in free agency simply to get away from the guy.

I don't think Turner is a great head coach.  He's so similar to Wade Phillips in that they make great coordinators, but not great head coaches.  The decision to hire Norv Turner was A.J. Smith's.  Responsibility for both hiring Turner and in not firing him a few years ago lays on Smith's shoulders.  He should pay the price when the season is over.

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