The Big, Quiet Story of Incompetence
The #1 story of the 2007 football season to date has been the New England Patriots. Not only have they been a dominant force, the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time, they’ve also brought some delicious controversy to keep us occupied during the week. They’ve become the perfect villains, nearly reaching Yankees status. That’s been covered. After that, there are lots of interesting goings-on, but for me, one stands above the rest and it hasn’t received what I would consider to be the appropriate level of attention.
The San Diego Chargers hired Norville Eugene “Norv” Turner to be their head football coach for the 2007 NFL season.
Just let it sink in: The Chargers hired Norv Turner. Norv F’ing Turner. This guy:
How is this not getting more attention? The Chargers were the top team in the NFL in the regular season last year and arguably the most talented and well-balanced team in the league. They had a bye and lost a tough draw against a battle-tested Patriots team in the first round. In retrospect, it was a predictable loss, as the Pats clearly had more playoff chops than
Chargers GM, AJ Smith, has assembled a very strong squad in
Damage done, but not a disaster. Losing Cameron and Phillips is hardly equivalent to the Giants allowing Lombardi and Landry get their shots elsewhere. So you’ve still got a job vacancy. What assistant or re-tread NFL coach wouldn’t jump at the chance to coach the Chargers? Even a mediocre guy would do. Just find somebody who wouldn’t break everything. They couldn’t find this year’s version of Brad Childress, Rod Marinelli, or Scott Linehan? Jim Mora Jr. wouldn’t do? Or even a bland non-entity like Dick Jauron, Mike Sherman, or Jim Haslett? Somebody, anybody but Norv.
Now, everybody knows Norv Turner. We know that he’s been a bad coach. We know that he’s the least charismatic sports figure of our time. We know he couldn’t lead starving kids at fat camp to the mess hall. We KNOW he sucks. The guy practically has “failure” tattooed across his forehead. As one of my co-workers would say, just LOOK at him. He’s a LOOOOSER.
What people may not know is that the numbers support Norv’s incompetence to a surprising degree. His career record is 59-84-1, a winning percentage of .413. Among coaches with as many NFL games as Norv, only ONE has a worse winning percentage. That’s Norm Van Brocklin for those of you scoring at home. In the history of the NFL, 77 coaches have coached more than 100 games. Ony FIVE have a worse winning percentage than Turner. John McKay, Dan Henning, Ray Perkins, Dom Capers, and the aforementioned Flying Dutchman. That's 5/77, or 6.5%.
The Chargers have bags of talent and they’re going to win some games. Norv could screw up a grilled cheese sandwich, but even a walking crapstorm like him should be able to get them to the playoffs. But you have to ask why. Why do that to yourself? AJ Smith, you’re in charge. You could hire ANYBODY. You didn’t have to choose from some short list of “people you know” or “guys who would take the job.” How in the hell did you come up with Norv Turner? This mystifying to me and it’s going to be a big factor in how the season plays out. Maybe