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The Sports Pile: Norvell’s neck skin and other coaching quagmires

There aren’t 32 qualified people? Really.

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2007

Updated: Monday, January 18, 2010 09:01


Seriously, the next time you flip on Sportscenter or your not-so-local San Diego SuperChargers football game on a Sunday, I want you to notice Norv Turner’s neck skin. It’s insane. Well, it’s not actually crazy but it sure is flabby as hell, and not because Norv is fat or anything either. He’s just spent the last 14 or so years coaching with two hands squeezed tightly around his neck, and he’s spent the entire 2007 season ruining two perfectly good franchises.

I’m not going to spend how many ever words this turns into dog piling on Turner. First of all, he’s a North Carolina guy (Camp Lejeune), so there’s a little bit of love for him right there. Secondly, and more importantly, he’s always been a good, albeit somewhat overrated, offensive coordinator, but he absolutely sucks as a head coach in the National Football League. Thing is … he’s not exactly the only one.

The guy has led some high octane offenses in his day, but as soon as you put him in the driver’s seat he falls apart. Witness the ‘Skins, who he only got to the playoffs once from 1994-2000. Witness further their penchant for late season collapses, most particularly in his final year when they dropped four of five games midway through the season to shoot their playoff chances in the foot.

Norv backdoored his next head coaching job with the Raiders just before the Art Shell era, and you can’t really blame him for their failure – ever since Jon Gruden left and paddled them in the Super Bowl with another team, that franchise has been in utter shambles. Al Davis will probably need a third exhuming to even think about seeing 2010 … anyway, Norv got run out of Oak-town no less proud than he did from D.C. and plenty of pundits talked about the need to never hire him again – “he’s a great coordinator but just can’t get the job done as a head coach,” blah-blah-blah.

Well, people have short term memories, because after Oakland, Norv spent a year directing the offense for the San Francisco 49ers, where he suddenly had Alex Smith looking like less than a first overall bust and Frank Gore looking like the second coming of Emmitt. So, following the Pats inexplicable backdoor of the Chargers and ensuing Marty-AJ fallout, San Diego needed a new head coach. People gasped as Norv was hired away, but that didn’t affect anyone’s opinions of Gore or LaDanian Tomlinson heading into the season. In fact, people (me too, but I’m a homer for N.C. State athletics) started predicting breakout seasons from Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson under Norv’s system. Again, we forgot he was going to be head coach.

Sure, some defensive regression (read: no ‘roids for Merriman) was expected from the Chargers, but you certainly didn’t expect them to be .500 halfway through the season with an embarrassing second half collapse/loss to the Chiefs and having given up an NFL record 296 rushing yards to a rookie by the name of Purple Jesus. Er, Adrian Peterson. So, something went wrong, and San Diego’s not the only place. Mike Nolan seemingly had the Niners turned around – a young, up and coming defense featuring would-be studs like Manny Lawson and Patrick Willis, the addition of Nate Clements from free agency would shore up the defense and the offense would just keep on clicking. San Fran was everyone’s sexy pick to win the NFC West. Well, guess who’s the second lowest scoring offense in the NFL? Yup. If it weren’t for the Rams hogging the basement of the West, San Fran would be on mass suicide watch right now.

So what’s my point? Go back to somewhere, anywhere that will let you be an offensive coordinator, Norv. The poor, leathery Beamer-flap hanging from your neck is begging you. But Norv’s not the only head coach in the NFL that could be considered questionable (at best). In fact, it’s a pretty surefire bet that you’ll find at least one horrid coach in every division in football, if not two.

Certainly we can’t harp on Bill Belichick as a “bad” coach, even if he is a “bag” coach. Sorry, that joke will probably work out as well as Cam Cameron in Miami. You see, the Fins are 0-8. That is what we would call an “auspicious” head start, made even more questionable by the first round drafting of Ted Ginn, Jr., last year. This won’t work out. Mangini, in case you weren’t aware, is Latin for “overrated.” Yes, the Belichick coaching tree is full of geniuses, but this Man-genius got waaaay too much credit for beating a redonkulously easy schedule last year. And now the regression.

The AFC South is a hard place to find a sucker to fire, but Jack Del Rio should have been on the chopping block a while ago – no one’s done less with a great defense and a serviceable offense, all while wasting first round picks on horrible wide receivers every other year. Jeff Fisher, by the way, is a good coach. He’s just a total dirt bag in case you missed the Panthers game.

You’d think Marvin Lewis was a dirt bag the way he lets the prison inmates formerly known as the Bungles romp all around Cincy, but the fact of the matter is, he’s had his window there; he was brought in to build a great defense and they’re one of the worst in football. My grandmother could coach Ocho Cinco, Palmer, Housh and Rudi to 25 points a game, so he’s vastly overrated after one good season.

Speaking of one good season, my least favorite coach in the NFL is Brian Billick. Yes, he has a Super Bowl ring, but does that excuse the fact that he’s a supposed offensive genius who can’t find a quarterback and thinks he’s clever for passing on first second and third at the goal line. I can’t even talk about it I get so angry.

You know what the new number one thing is to do in Denver when you’re dead? Coach the Broncos. Someone exhume Terrell Davis’ knee or drag Elway out of a used car lot and give Shanny some new life. It’s embarrassing how far down they’ve gone. We get it. Anyone can run in your system, too bad no one can throw.

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