San Diego Union-Tribune writer Kevin Acee wrote a column which said that San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith will keep his position even if the team fails to make the playoffs in 2012. Chargers owner Dean Spanos gave Smith credit for helping San Diego escape futility as the team did not have a winning record from 1996-2003. Smith took over as GM in 2003 and from 2004-2011, the Chargers, the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers were the only NFL teams without a losing record.
This is an impressive feat, but New England has three Super Bowl appearances and a title during this time, Pittsburgh has three appearances and two titles while San Diego has no appearances. San Diego had two unfortunate injuries during the 2007 season when they made it to the AFC Championship game. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers played with a torn ACL and running back LaDainian Tomlinson left the game with an injury. Even though the defense had three interceptions, the injuries to Rivers and Tomlinson were too much as San Diego lost 21-12.
I do not see Smith keeping his job if San Diego does not make the playoffs or if they are one and done like their last playoff appearance during the 2009 season. San Diego finished with a 13-3 record that year, but lost their only playoff game to the New York Jets. Norv Turner became the head coach in 2007, so he deserves to be blamed as well, but Turner had a 58-82-1 record prior to Smith hiring him, so it should come as no surprise that San Diego is declining. Although San Diego has a 49-31 record under Turner, they are 17-15 over the last two seasons. They went from a 13-3 record in 2009 to a 9-7 record in 2010 to an 8-8 record in 2011, so Turner should have been fired after last season. Smith picked the head coach, drafted, signed and traded for the players, so anything less than a trip to the AFC Championship game in 2012 should not be enough to bring him back for an 11th season as GM.