The consensus opinion surrounding the San Diego Chargers seems to be that both Head Coach Norv Turner and General Manager A.J. Smith will be out of a job when the season concludes. While the case for canning Turner is relatively cut and dry the idea of firing Smith still bothers me a bit. Here is a compelling argument for allowing GM Smith to stay on when the new head coach is hired.
BUILDING A DEFENSE
It may be becoming an offensive league, but defense STILL wins championships in the NFL and A.J. Smith has done a remarkable job of crafting the Bolts’ young defensive unit. Everywhere you look on the Chargers’ roster there is talent that is still in their early to mid-twenties in age. These players have begun the maturation process and that is clearly evident given their status as the 9th ranked total defense in the league coming into week 14.
Despite the Bolts poor record of 4-8 coming into the week 14 contest, the team had still outscored its opponents by a 292 to 281 margin. It seems hard to believe that a club capable of losing two times as many games as it’s won can have a positive scoring differential, but the Chargers are a rare case where it is possible.
Players like Corey Liuget second-year, Cam Thomas third-year, Vaughn Martin fourth-year, Donald Butler third-year, Melvin Ingram rookie, and Marcus Gilchrist second-year provide the building blocks for a successful defense for years to come. These are all recent draft choices by Smith who have just gotten started in the league and are already proving to be wise investments.
FREE AGENT SIGNINGS
While the big money signings of Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, and Jared Gaither have turned out to be duds at this point, the guys that GM Smith has brought in off of the street during the season have been huge additions. Danario Alexander is the best receiver on the team already racking up 33 catches for 555 yards and five scores through just seven games with the team including a zero catch performance in his first week with the club. Michael Spurlock had a tremendous game in week 14 hauling in seven balls for 64 yards and six of those grabs were to convert on third downs.
It has been awfully disappointing to see Meachem and Royal be inactive for much of the year while Gaither is on injured reserve (IR), yet there are still plenty of bright spots for GM Smith in terms of acquisitions. Just because the marquee names signed during the offseason haven’t produced as planned doesn’t mean that Smith doesn’t know how to evaluate talent anymore.
If you are in the camp against A.J. Smith just because he brought Norv in, try to see the other side of the argument. Smith has clearly made mistakes in several areas, but his overall effort to build this team in the correct way can be clearly seen. The Chargers need to restart at the head coaching position with a motivator that can get this team ready to play on a week to week basis, but they should stay the course at GM and let A.J. Smith continue to build this team the right way.
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