San Diego Chargers: Jon Gruden Should Replace Norv Turner as Head Coach in 2012

Camden PaschAnalyst IIApril 25, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 08:  Head coach Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers watches during a game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 8, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

For such an explosive team, the San Diego Chargers have quite the opposite of a head coach. Norv Turner portrays himself as a laid back, cool-headed, casual type of man. This is the attitude and personality of an assistant coach, not a head coach of an annual Super Bowl contender. There wouldn't be an issue if he was the offensive coordinator and not the head coach, but he is and therein lies the problem.

Norv Turner should have been the offensive coordinator and not the head coach.

Most Charger fans, still to this day, are wondering why Turner was chosen for the job in 2007. Just the season after Marty Schottenheimer took the Chargers to an NFL-best 14-2 regular season record, Turner followed that season up with a solid 11-5 season before getting knocked out in the AFC Championship game to the New England Patriots. Should the Chargers have made it to the Super Bowl that year, maybe there wouldn't be so many fans that dislike him as much, but they didn't and have since continued to fall.

  • 2008-09: 8-8 regular season; AFC West Champs; Lost to Steelers in AFC Divisional Game. 
  • 2009-10: 13-3 regular season; AFC West Champs; Lost to Jets in AFC Divisional Game. 
  • 2010-11: 9-7 regular season; 2nd in AFC West; Did not make the playoffs. 

The stats do not show how bad Norv Turner coaches the team. He makes the incorrect calls in the situations that the team cannot afford to mess up in. He also doesn't know when to take risks as he will take risks when it means nothing and he will not take a risk when the payoff would be extremely huge and vital in winning that particular game.

One of the many moments that showed Turner's lack of head coaching skills was in a home game in 2009 against the Baltimore Ravens. The Chargers passing attack had been unstoppable in that contest as Phillip Rivers passed for 436 yards and two touchdowns. San Diego was down by five points with under three minutes left in the game. The Rivers-led offense marched down the field all the way to the Ravens 10-yard line before having to go for it on fourth-and-2 with 33 seconds left in the game.

For whatever reason, Turner called for a run play using one of the smallest players in the league, Darren Sproles at 5-7 and 190 lbs. Sproles took the hand-off and was immediately wrapped up in the backfield by Ray Lewis for a five yard loss and the Chargers lost the game.

Turner should have known that the Chargers had only rushed for 53 yards in that game, but had been lighting the Ravens up through the air. If he did know that but still called for the run, then it was irresponsible and stupid. If he didn't know that and called it, then it's ignorant and ridiculous.

After the game, Turner tried to explain by saying, "We threw the ball on third down and I felt we could get the first down by running." He was clearly wrong and should have continued to pass the ball. 

It's also frustrating to watch the Chargers continue to under perform when the talent is most definitely there. What is even more frustrating is that the team is so good that it can pull itself out of their infamous slow starts to the season, but then be exhausted by the end of the season which gives them little to no hope of making a playoff run. The fact they start out horribly shows that Turner does not prepare the team well at the beginning of the season.

A coaching change needs to be done before the key players on the team pass the prime of their career (Philip Rivers, Shaun Phillips, Antonio Gates, etc). Turner is signed through the 2013 season, but hopefully his tenure as head coach does not last that long.

The coach that brings what the Chargers need is Jon Gruden. Gruden has been out of the head coaching game since 2008, but he has certainly been all over the game of football since then. He has a job with ESPN as an analyst and a commentator on Monday Night Football where he does a fantastic job.

Gruden coached in the NFL for 11 years with the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and won the Super Bowl in 2002 with the Buccaneers.

It's very believable that Gruden hasn't taken a head coaching job because he is either perfectly fine with his current role at ESPN or he is waiting for that one job that doesn't have the opening yet. That job could be San Diego's head coaching position.

Gruden would bring intensity and attitude to a Chargers team that sorely needs it. There wouldn't be that silent treatment on the sideline that Turner brings, but a fired up, blonde-haired head coach that knows what he's doing to motivate his players by yelling at them.

Pairing up a head coach that wants to win more than any other coach with a quarterback that wants to win more than any other quarterback would be a fantastic doing. The combination of Gruden and Rivers could be able to lead the Chargers to their first Super Bowl championship and possibly keep the franchise in San Diego for the long term.