Chargers assemble the puzzle perfectly
Norv Turner
Norv Turner
Posted Feb 20, 2007

The process certainly wasn’t pretty, but in the end the Chargers got it right. In naming Norv Turner as the team’s new head coach and appointing Ted Cottrell to be its defensive coordinator, San Diego kept in place the offensive and defensive schemes that allowed the team to win 14 games a season ago.

As pointed out four days ago in this article, the Norv Turner - Ted Cottrell pairing is the best hire the team could have made. San Diego boasts a roster booming with talent, so the organization needed to assemble a staff that would continue to allow players to maximize their abilities.

As offensive coordinator of the 49ers, Turner reaffirmed his reputation as a coach who can groom a young quarterback and fully utilize a workhorse running back. During Turner’s one year in San Francisco, Alex Smith’s passer rating improved by 34 points and Frank Gore went from splitting time with Kevan Barlow to leading the NFC in rushing.

That bodes well for the Chargers, as Turner should be able to work wonders with Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson. In fact, Turner has experience working with Tomlinson, as Turner was the offensive coordinator in San Diego in 2001, Tomlinson’s rookie season. It was then that he installed the offensive system still utilized by the team today.

“I am very excited to work with Norv,” Tomlinson said. “We have a great relationship. Norv is a perfect fit for our team. He will know exactly what to do with our team.”

Just as important as Turner’s hiring was the acquisition of Cottrell. With 22 years of experience as an assistant coach, Cottrell is well versed in the attacking-style 3-4 defense that allowed the Chargers to lead the league in sacks in 2006.

“I’m looking forward to working with such a young and talented group of athletes,” Cottrell said. “I enjoy coaching the 3-4, particularly if you have athletes like those here in San Diego. I look forward to helping these players be the best they can be.”

There is no doubt San Diego has the talent to win in 2007, as the abundance of Pro Bowlers on its roster is borderline ridiculous. Although Turner and Cottrell may not make these all-stars any better, the new coaches will not impede their productivity, either.

“We should be good early and we should be good late,” Turner said. “Not having to go through the normal things you have to go through when you make a coaching change is going to help the players more than anything.”

The critics will gripe about Turner being a retread. After all, this is Turner’s third head coaching gig and his 58-82-1 record in that capacity is hardly impressive. It should be noted, however, that in his last two head coaching jobs he took over bottom-feeding squads. He was fired in Washington by Daniel Snyder and by Al Davis in Oakland, two men not exactly known for their ability to judge talent.

Turner deserved an opportunity to work with a talented roster like the one in San Diego. The Chargers’ players deserve to keep in place the schemes, which have been so good to them. This hiring gives both parties what they want, making the Turner-Cottrell acquisition the best move the Chargers could have made.

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