So it’s official. The San Diego Chargers’ will have fewer wins in 2007 than they did last year. Their 2006 record was 14-2, with their 30-16 loss today to the Kansas City Chiefs they drop to 1-3 on the season.
The number one reason for this change, the replacement of Marty Schottenheimer with Norv Turner. For those of you not famiilar with the NFL, Marty has historically been a very winning coach, but not able to win (or even get to) a Super Bowl. He is notorious for playing Marty Ball, a conservative offense that attempts to rely amlost completely on the running game. Although Marty has been chastized throughout his career his style, the team in San Diego with LaDainian Tomlinson at running back, fit his schema extremely well.
At the end of last season, after leading his team to a 13-2 season and losing a playoff game to the consistently difficult New England Patriots. For his efforts, Schottenheimer got the boot. The ownership in San Diego replaced him with the consistently poor Norv Turner, pulling off a maneuver similar to what Tampa Bay accomplished in 2002 by firing Tony Dungy and hiring Jon Gruden (another team that has since become a parody of itself).
Now, four games into the 2007 season, it is amazingly clear that this change was not a good move by the Chargers. San Diego has fallen from being a powerhouse, to the joke of the AFC West. The NFL Playoffs are so difficult, and the AFC is so competitive right now with teams like the Steelers, Colts and Patriots, firing someone for a playoff loss is ridiculous and greedy. I’ve never been a big fan of Marty, but the San Diego Chargers are missing their best chance to have a good quality season, increase attendance and fan loyalty and generally build on the excitement of last year.
In a modern NFL that is all about the money, sometimes I wonder who makes decisions like this. Is the ownership so dedicated to ‘winning’ that they will take a gamble like this? Is a Super Bowl win so lucrative that it’s worth risking a possible losing season? What is their motivation? It’s really difficult to win the Super Bowl if you can’t even come up with a win in the regular season…