There are any number of reasons to be embarrassed if you're the San Diego Chargers. They blew a 24-0 halftime lead and had front-row seats for the type of collapse that, had it been the postseason, would be right up there with the 2004 Yankees implosion. But if you're searching for a silver lining, that's it: this isn't the postseason and this team, with this coach, probably won't have to worry about playing football in January.
Which is why Chargers president Dean Spanos has to be the most embarrassed of all. He's the man responsible for keeping coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith weeks after another underachieving season. San Diego finished 8-8 in 2011 and 9-7 the year before that, missing the playoffs both times. And now discussions about Turner's future have officially become a matter of when and not if.
During the funeral procession masquerading as a postgame press conference, Turner was asked if he thought this might be it for him, the proverbial final nail in the coffin.
"I'm not going to comment on that," he said according to UTSanDiego.com's Nick Canepa, who added: "I can't ever remember Norv being asked that question in public. Interesting, but if Norv were to go, who would replace him six games in, Al Luginbill?"
Does it matter?
Turner has all the leverage afforded lame ducks, which means he'll almost certainly be looking for work in 2013 if not sooner. But this isn't entirely his fault. On Monday night, quarterback Philip Rivers played like he had learned to throw a football during pregame warmups.
"Once one of the most accurate and surest of quarterbacks in the NFL, Rivers the past two seasons has committed atypical and fatal mistakes, with his latest performance his worst," CBSSports.com's Clark Judge posted early Tuesday morning from San Diego.
"He had six turnovers by himself. Five of them were in the second half. Two were returned for touchdowns. Another led to a touchdown. That's 21 points on giveaways, and, sorry, you can't survive like that."
And Turner won't.
Unless Spanos decides to give him one more chance. By the way, here's what the team president said last January when he chose to keep Norv around.
“Bottom line, I believe [Turner and Smith] give us the best chance to get back to the playoffs. A.J. Smith is the best man to improve our roster, and Norv Turner is the best man to lead that roster on the field."
Looking back, this seems like satire.
"Together, we have stability and experience that's hard to find in the NFL," Spanos continued, presumably while fighting back fits of uncontrollable laughter at the absurdity of the words coming out of his mouth. … “As we've seen throughout Norv's tenure and particularly this past season, the players believe in him, respect him and play hard for him. When we went through that tough stretch, no one quit. The team kept playing hard, and that's a tribute to Norv's leadership and the respect the players have for him."
The team quit on Monday night. Your move, Mr. Spanos.
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