A.J. Smith is a shrewd GM, so when he fired Marty Schottenheimer, like, seven minutes ago, I thought that he had a plan. An ace up his sleeve, you could say. I thought about Ron Rivera, or Mike Singletary, or Rex Ryan spear-heading a Chargers' Super Bowl run while Schottenheimer stared at the TV through his gigantic glasses, distraught.
Boy, was I wrong.
It turns out that the demise of the Chargers might not have been exaggerated, as the team has bucked NFL trends by hiring Norv Turner as their next head coach. Excuse me while I giggle knowingly.
You might know Turner from failed experiments heading the Redskins and the Raiders, where he's compiled an impressively awful 59-83-1 record, possibly the worst career record of coach clever enough to fool three separate teams into hiring him.
Granted, Turner didn't really inherit the best system in Oakland, and he's going to be on the receiving end of a lot more talent this time around. But I'm sorry if I'm not entirely convinced the Chargers made the right hire. I just think he's one of those coaches better suited for a coordinator position. If that sounds a little too simplistic, maybe it is. He was making positive strides with Alex Smith. Assuming Smith realizes the potential the 49ers saw in him on draft day, Turner could have resuscitated his profile in mentoring the next of kin in the 49ers tradition of great quarterbacks.
Besides, I just don't think he's fiery enough to relate to his squad of law-bucking youngsters. The trend is finding young, energetic coaches. That trend exists for a reason -- there is a large generational gap between the Norv Turners and the Shawne Merrimans, a larger gap than age might indicate. Young coaches are more in-tune with the culture of young pro athletes than the old-guard, and can communicate with them as such.
The Chargers are the second team this offseason to buck that trend for a proven loser, and it could stunt the progress of a team with way more talent than should be possible in the age of free agency. The Chargers have a Super Bowl squad, they just needed the coach. That mission was not accomplished.