Only one team can win the Super Bowl in the NFL. It is cliche’ to say that, but for no other team is that more evident than the San Diego Chargers of the last decade.
If Norv Turner and Marty Schottenheimer’s tenures with the San Diego Chargers were flipped, the team would probably be in the exact same position it is now. They may have different mindsets – Schottenheimer is an ex-linebacker and defensive coordinator and Turner an ex-quarterback and offensive coordinator – yet they have a similar stigma. Despite winning division championships in more than a third of the seasons each has coached, neither has advanced to a Super Bowl as a head coach. In 2006, Schottenheimer’s Chargers went 14-2, yet lost to the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round. Last season, Turner’s Chargers went 13-3 and lost to the Jets in the same round.
At least Schottenheimer lost to the Patriots… Unlike 2006, when the team scrapped the coaching staff after the playoff mishap, the current Chargers chose to keep Turner, yet let some top players like LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Cromartie go elsewhere (AKA the New York Jets – the team that eliminated the Chargers from the playoffs). With a revamped roster and a notable focus on the downfield passing game, rather than leveraging LT2, the Chargers will be a team to watch again in 2010.
Norv Turner joined Darren Smith on XX Radio in San Diego to talk about the 2009 season, OTAs, designing plays, coaching against players or coaches, and on the Super Bowl in a cold weather stadium.
On when the 2009 season ended for him:
“It ends when it ends. Unfortunately. That one is hard to take. That one won’t leave until we get back into that position again. I think that’s the way our guys feel. I think that is going to push and drive us, not only through the off-season, but it’s going to push and drive us through the whole year. We had a great year, but we didn’t finish it the way we wanted to. To get the redemption we want, we need to get back to that spot and play the way we are capable of playing.”
On whether he coaches more against players or coaches:
“You have to do both. You have to be sound schematically. What you are trying to do is get your players in a position where they have the best chance to at least have a one-on-one match-up or at least mentally have an edge. If we can get guys in a one-on-one match-up and get an advantage that way, we have good enough players to win. Obviously, the other team is trying to do the same thing.”
On how often he designs a new play:
“With the fact that our staff has been together awhile, we feed off each other… You kind of tweak the things you are really good at. One of the things that we do every off-season is study the teams that were the best in certain areas – let’s say a great Red Zone team or a team that had great success blitzing on defense. This is a copy cat league, you can take a blitz, so let’s say Pittsburgh runs this blitz, and say ‘We got the guys that can do it.’ You can’t do that during the season and practice it three times and think you’ll be any good at it. But you can do it in May and June and then in training camp. If you get enough reps on it, you have a chance to do something that teams have not seen you do… Every team gets every tape of every game in the NFL. So there are teams out there that are looking at us saying, ‘We’re not going to let them run this particularly play. We’re not going to let them do this.'”
On the importance of OTAs to the upcoming season:
“It’s a big part because you’re still putting in systems, schemes, the calls – whether it be an audible, whether it be a defensive adjustment – we can do all that. We just don’t want to have collisions when we’re doing it… Our guys really do a good job taking care of each other. Because we are veteran guys that know what to do, we get a lot done.”
And on the Super Bowl awarded to New York/New Jersey:
“I think it’s really exciting. I would love to play in it anywhere they want to put it. It’s great for our league and great for New York. I really think that people that are questioning it, when it actually happens and they go through the experience, they are going to say, ‘Hey this was a great idea.'”