Schottenheimer and Chargers can't get along

Schottenheimer loved his players

The timing may seem a tad strange but there is nothing about the dismissal of Marty Schottenheimer that should be. The signs were all there. Even Schottenheimer noticed the edge things had begun to take were sharper than before.

Never has a coach led his team to the best record and been fired - until Monday.

As a proponent for keeping Schottenheimer, it is odd for me to turn the tables and find the common ground the Chargers found.

The facts are simple:

Schottenheimer and general manager A.J. Smith never got along. Mending fences was never an option for the stubborn men.

But that is just a small part of the reason and not the primary reason for this circus, just over a week before the NFL Combines.

Over the course of the year many a time there has been a reference to "Marty Ball" or the lack thereof. Part of that reason was Schottenheimer's willingness to allow his coordinators to do their job with minimal input.

Schottenheimer allowed then offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to call the plays and gave him total freedom, showing a confidence he has rarely displayed in his coach. The results were obvious.

His respect for Wade Phillips' defensive scheme was evident as well. He allowed Phillips to use the players as he saw fit – only stressing the importance of run defense.

With two new coordinators, Clarence Shelmon in one spot, the leash would become taut. Smith and team president Dean Spanos could not go into the season with such a high turnover and still retain the coach.

They believed they would at least have one of the top two candidates to take over when Schottenheimer eventually was fired after next season or lived up to the hype by winning a Super Bowl.

Losing one coordinator was fine but the second sealed the deal.

Smith, Spanos, and Schottenheimer met on several occasions Monday and it was sealed when it became apparent the strain on the relationship would never heal and Schottenheimer would demand more control over the gameday ops.

"He informed me of his decision and I respect his decision," Schottenheimer said. "Dean Spanos saw the issues here and he addressed them.

"This organization and this city is better than the one that was here when I got here."

Despite going 14-2 in the regular season and compiling a 47-33 record over five seasons in San Diego, including 35 wins and two AFC West titles over the last three seasons.

But his 5-13 playoff record has been the thorn in his side and the Chargers have bowed out in the first round of the playoffs each time they have entered the fray under Schottenheimer's direction.

At 9 PM, Schottenheimer left the Murphy Canyon facility. He reiterated one point:

"I feel proud of the fact that we left the Chargers organization better than when we arrived here."

It is hard to argue. Now, the Chargers will be challenged with finding a coach who can lead them to the postseason and beyond with a talent-filled roster.

What is next for Schottenheimer:

"I am going to enjoy some quality time with my family. I still enjoy what I do. You never know what the future may hold. I still feel I am good at what I do and I enjoy coaching."

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