Last night the Chargers took a 24-0 lead into half time at home against the division rival Denver Broncos. It was a shocking score to be certain, but what happened next was far more alarming.
With a late pick six by Chris Harris, Denver completed the biggest comeback in the history of Monday Night Football and dropped 35 unanswered points on San Diego. What I’m about to say next is even more surprising to me than either of these two things.
It isn’t Norv Turner’s fault.
For years I have called for Norv to be fired. He had some of the most talented teams in the NFL for the last several years in San Diego, and could never get them over the hump. What made his continued employment even more infuriating is they fired Marty Schottenheimer after a 14-2 campaign, and a playoff loss to the Patriots, to bring in a head coach in Norv that would have less regular season success and similar playoff failures. His teams traditionally start slow before making furious late season rallies to squeak into the playoffs, although the last couple seasons they have been on the outside looking in.
But this year Norv doesn’t seem to be shitting all over himself, he just doesn’t have all that much to work with. Despite last night’s heartbreaking loss, 3-3 is not a terrible start for this roster.
How much longer can Rivers’ best target be the corpse of Antonio Gates? While the tight end looked impressive last night scoring a couple touchdowns, it has become more and more obvious that this is not the same man that revolutionized the tight end position years ago. Malcom Floyd is a solid wideout, but if he is the best wide receiver on your team this is not good news. Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal have been disappointments, combining for 25 catches and less than 300 yards through six games. Rivers seems to feel the added pressure, too. Last night when things started to unravel it really did seem like he was trying to do too much. He forced several throws and ended up throwing three second half interceptions (four total) that ultimately lead to the demise of his team. At some point it might be time to accept the notion that Rivers is going to play most of his career as around the 7th best quarterback in football, and never make that leap to (wait for it) “elite” status.
The defense is not as bad as many imagined it would be before the season, but they are still a middle of the road unit (15th in scoring) who can’t seem to make enough big plays. Once things started to go downhill against Denver, they all seemed to be looking around at each other…shell shocked and confused. It looked like a group of young men being ambushed in a war movie.
After several years of mismanaging one of the most talented rosters in the game, the irony is Norv Turner might very well lose his job at the end of this season after his best coaching job to date. Just the same, can’t say I have a lot of sympathy for him.