Norv Turner, A.J. Smith returning to San Diego Chargers in 2012
Head Coach Norv Turner and General Manager A.J. Smith will return to the San Diego Chargers for the 2012 season, team President Dean Spanos announced Tuesday, ending speculation that one or both men would lose their jobs after missing the playoffs for a second straight year.
“Bottom line, I believe these two men give us the best chance to get back to the playoffs,” Spanos said in a statement. “A.J. Smith is the best man to improve our roster and Norv Turner is the best man to lead that roster on the field."
In his five seasons with the team, Turner has led the Chargers to a 52-34 record and into the playoffs three times, including an appearance in the AFC Championship. Turner's Chargers have a 21-3 record in December and January but usually need those late runs in order to secure a postseason berth; they have fallen short the last two years.
“As we’ve seen throughout Norv’s tenure and particularly this past season, the players believe in him, respect him and play hard for him," Spanos said of the 2011 team, which remained in the playoff hunt until late December despite a six-game losing streak earlier in the season. "When we went through that tough stretch, no one quit. The team kept playing hard, and that’s a tribute to Norv’s leadership and the respect the players have for him."
Smith has been the general manager since 2003, and the Chargers have won 88 games and five AFC West titles during that span.
“We all have our quirks and faults, but I want A.J. and Norv on my side," Spanos said. "They are the right men to help us win a championship.”
He added: “Now we will take a hard look at everything, from player evaluation to coaching to the rash of injuries we’ve suffered in recent years. Injuries have killed us. And no one is ever perfect in this business. Player evaluation isn’t an exact science. We need to improve across the board and I’m going to make sure we do."
— Chuck Schilken
Photo: Norv Turner. Credit: Tony Avelar / Associated Press