The San Diego Chargers had success in the regular season from 2004-2006 with Marty Schottenheimer as their head coach. San Diego had a 35-13 record over these three seasons with Schottenheimer.
It was no secret that Schottenheimer had a rocky relationship with former Chargers general manager A.J. Smith. According to Tom Krasovic of utsandiego.com, Schottenheimer addressed his issues with Smith.
In “Martyball!”, Schottenheimer describes Smith as “aloof, uncommunicative and stubborn.” Schottenheimer was fired after San Diego went 14-2 in 2006, but lost their only playoff game to the New England Patriots.
Schottenheimer was hired by John Butler before he passed away due to a battle with cancer, and Smith took over as general manager prior to the 2003 NFL season. Perhaps the fact that Smith did not hire Schottenheimer was a bad way to start their relationship.
While Schottenheimer has a right to express his beliefs towards Smith, Schottenheimer came up short in the playoffs with every team he coached. The Cleveland Browns had a 2-4 record in the playoffs with Schottenheimer, the Kansas City Chiefs had a 3-7 record and San Diego was 0-2 under him in the playoffs. It is inexcusable for a team to go 14-2 like San Diego did in 2006, and fail to win a playoff game.
From 2005-2010, six of Smith’s seven first round picks suffered major injuries which led to them being released, traded or limited in their effectiveness. Smith also hired Norv Turner, who had a career .414 winning percentage prior to being San Diego’s head coach.
San Diego, New England and the Pittsburgh Steelers did not have a losing record from 2004-2011. New England and Pittsburgh won two Super Bowls during this time, while San Diego did not have a Super Bowl appearance.
Smith was fired after the 2012 season following 10 seasons as San Diego’s general manager. I believe that both guys are responsible for San Diego failing to get over the hump and win a Super Bowl.