Chargers fire coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith

December 31, 2012

In a move many fans would argue came two seasons too late, San Diego Chargers President Dean Spanos announced that General Manager A.J. Smith and Head Coach Norv Turner will not return in 2013.

“I thank A.J. and Norv for the determination and integrity they brought to the Chargers each and every day,” said Spanos. “Both Norv and A.J. are consummate NFL professionals, and they understand that in this league, the bottom-line is winning.  My only goal is the Super Bowl, and that is why I have decided to move in a new direction with both our head coach and general manager positions.”

Smith became general manager in 2003, winning five AFC West Division titles (2004, ‘06-09) along the way. Only five teams won more games than the Chargers during the past 10 seasons. Prior to the 2012 season, Smith had acquired 15 players who went on to earn Pro Bowl recognition, most in the NFL during his tenure.

However, as many of those stars moved on to other teams or saw their level of play decline, Smith had difficulty replacing the talent. In particular, he whiffed on a number of his recent draft picks.

"The last three years have been an awful lot of work because we’ve had continuously changing lineups," Turner explained. "That’s the hardest thing to coach. We’ve lost a lot of players to injuries and free agency. That’s the hardest thing on players. It caught up to Philip (Rivers) this year and had a real effect on him."

Turner produced an overall record of 59-43 (.578%) with the Chargers, including 56-40 (.583%) during the regular season. His overall record with the Chargers against the AFC West was 25-11, including 9-3 versus Oakland and Kansas City, and a 7-5 record against Denver.

Under Turner, the Chargers won three division titles and appeared in the 2007 AFC Championship Game. Turner is tied with Don Coryell and Bobby Ross for the most playoff wins in team history (three).

"The coach who comes in here will be impressed with the work ethic," Turner said. "The way these guys work on a daily basis, how much football means to them. When they start looking at the tape, I think that they’ll see that this team has been extremely well-coached and they’ll need to find a way to add more players so they can compete in this league. As I’ve said, I’m proud of what these guys have done and in most cases, I think that we’ve gotten the most out of them.”

However, a hallmark of Turner's San Diego teams during his tenure was their notoriously slow, underachieving starts to many seasons.

Viewed in NFL circles as an elite offensive coordinator, Turner has not found the same success when placed in a head coaching position.

Spanos has retained Ron Wolf, the former Green Bay Packers General Manager, as a consultant to advise the Chargers throughout the general manager and head coach hiring process.

By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services

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