SAN DIEGO — I’m spending the day in San Diego, as glorious a training camp setting as you could possibly imagine. What an awesome place. We went live on NFL Network with their practice and taped a bunch of one-on-one interviews.
We talked to QB Philip Rivers here, then coach Norv Turner, then Executive VP A.G. Spanos. Of course, one topic was the return of Turner, who at one point last year looked like a goner. Instead, a 4-1 run to end the season gave him (at least) one more season.
I asked several of our interview subjects about this, and they left me with two thoughts: Players were pumped about it and the San Diego Chargers are saying the public made a bigger deal of it than it was.
“Oh, I was thrilled,” Rivers told me. “I think I speak for the majority of the team in saying we all hoped that was going to be the case. The familiarity, the continuity in keeping coach here, the staff with our systems, it’s huge. And we have a nice mix of free agents and the core group we have here. We have a chance to be — obviously you gotta go do it — but we have a chance to be a great team.”
Turner, who has an 80-49 record with the Chargers but who has missed the playoffs the last two years, sounded like it wasn’t a big deal. Essentially, he kept working while the team made a decision. He kinda made it seem like he expected it. He also harped on improving the roster, filling it with more talent and athleticism. But about the decision to keep him…
“I think a lot more was made of that than there really is,” Turner said. “I think you go about doing your job. This is a day-to-day process for me and for everyone on our staff. We talked about the offseason, now, we’re out here every day. What we’re working on is the details of playing football. It’s getting a guy to take the right step when he’s reach-blocking, or getting a guy to use his hands when he’s pass-rushing, as you said getting our new players to understand what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to accomplish and play together as a team.”
Based on my conversation with Spanos, who runs the day-to-day operation here, the call was made based on the extended winning over Turner’s long haul, rather than just the last two years. What about retaining GM A.J. Smith and Turner?
“I think it was an easier decision once you look at both of their track records,” Spanos told me. “Our offense has never been more prolific under Norv Turner than in any time in team history, and you look at A.J.’s time here, and it’s the winningest period in Charger history. I think only three teams have more wins throughout his tenure. When you look at the success they’ve had, it was hard not to continue that.”
No doubt, though, this is a massive year.