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Wrong man for the job

Turner's past shows he won't help Chargers' present

Posted: Monday February 19, 2007 3:34PM; Updated: Monday February 19, 2007 4:08PM
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Despite a reputation for offensive ingenuity, Norv Turner alienated Randy Moss when he coached the Raiders' talented receiver in '05.
Despite a reputation for offensive ingenuity, Norv Turner alienated Randy Moss when he coached the Raiders' talented receiver in '05.
Robert B. Stanton/WireImage.com

The never-ending feud between San Diego general manager A.J. Smith and head coach Marty Schottenheimer was bad enough, even before Schottenheimer was fired last week, but the team's decision to name 49ers offensive coordinator Norv Turner as its new head coach is worse. Hands down.

The problem here is that Turner, while being one of the nicest gentlemen you'll ever meet in the NFL, simply is not an effective head coach. He proved that in Washington, where he went 49-59-1 with the Redskins from 1994 to 2000. He proved it again in Oakland, where he lost games (a 9-23 record) and his team's respect in a matter of two years. Now that he has his third shot at leading a team, I'm pretty sure he's going to confirm one more time that he's not the man for this kind of job, regardless of how much talent he inherits in San Diego.

Here's what makes this situation mystifying: everything Turner did -- or didn't do -- as a head coach seemed to evaporate as soon as a couple of head coaching vacancies opened up around the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys were seriously considering him for their job before they hired former Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, and now the Chargers have fallen in love with Turner. He was a valuable offensive coordinator for both the Cowboys and Chargers at one point, but that's the only thing he has going for him at this stage of his career. And that really isn't much when you think about what the Chargers are asking him to do, which is take the team to a Super Bowl.

After all, for every lesson that Turner provided to a Hall-of-Famer, such as former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, there are probably 15 or 20 low points that any Washington Redskins fan easily can recall during his tenure with that team. For a coach who's built a reputation for molding an innovative offensive system that has produced huge years for stars such as Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Ricky Williams and LaDainian Tomlinson, Turner inexplicably couldn't get more out of Randy Moss during the '05 season, Moss' first year in Oakland.


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