Some have incorrectly called the A.J. Smith, Norv Turner era a failure for the San Diego Chargers over the past 24 hours when discussing the firing of the two men from Monday. While on the micro level that may be the case, on the macro level this past decade has been the most successful period in franchise history. It may not be a popular opinion at the moment, but despite all of the shortcomings in recent years, the Bolts will come to miss Smith as the team’s general manager.
The Bolts former GM was quick to discount much of the criticism aimed at his chosen head coach for the club over the past few seasons. He took ownership of the team’s recent decline and basically gave Turner a reprieve saying: “The disrespect aimed at him throughout his career has always bothered me. If I had done a better job, he would still be here. Together, we did not win. We are in a bottom-line business. Results are the only things that matter. Get to the playoffs often, win in the playoffs and ultimately win a Super Bowl. Our last three years tells you Dean (Spanos) was right.”
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Smith as a talent evaluator and his candor has often landed him in hot water, but that too earns him plenty of deference from my standpoint. It would have been easy for him to pin the failures on Turner and say that in hindsight he should have chosen a different coach, but instead he stuck to his guns and accepted the outcome of that decision.
While the Bolts have been thought of by the media at-large as a highly talented team with the potential to make a Super Bowl run during much of the past half-decade, former coach Turner disagreed with that opinion. He tried to temper fans’ expectations for the next regime that takes over and put a realistic spin on where the club currently stands. Turner said: “Someone wrote a few weeks ago that this team is not that far away from the playoffs. I would disagree. I know the things that would have to get done for that to happen. If this team comes next year and they get some things done to help them get better and are able to make the playoffs, I would hope it would be a surprise to all the Chargers fans, and they would be excited about it. I would hope it would not be the expectation starting in August because I think you need to give whoever the guy who comes in here and the group he brings in some time to get back this thing back to where it was.”
There will be plenty of interest in the GM and head coaching positions for the Chargers this off-season, but the replacements will be hard-pressed to make any large scale improvements immediately. This team needs some serious help along the offensive line as well as at the primary skill positions on offense. Unlike many years in the past, this season sees the Bolts with a list of needs longer than a list of wants.
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