By Ryan Wilson
Norv Turner will return to San Diego as the Chargers head coach in 2012, and A.J. Smith will continue to be the general manager, the team said in a statement released Tuesday.
“Bottom line, I believe these two men give us the best chance to get back to the playoffs,” president Dean Spanos said. “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.
“Together, we have stability and experience that’s hard to find in the NFL. They’ve both been in this league a long time. I don’t think there is anything they haven’t seen or experienced. They’ve led us through some difficult situations.
“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. 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.
“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."
On Monday, CBSSports.com's Clark Judge wrote that Turner and Smith could return to the Chargers, even though the speculation in recent weeks was that both were in serious danger of losing their jobs.
In six seasons with the Chargers, Turner was 52-34. Impressive, except that the team has missed the playoffs the last two years and has struggled to play consistently for most of his tenure.
San Diego started the '07 season (Turner's first) at 1-4, finished 11-5, and lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. A year later, they lost their final four regular-season games, made it to the postseason with an 8-8 record, before losing in the divisional round. In 2009, San Diego was 2-3 before wining 10 in a row … and losing in the first round to the Jets. The Chargers begun '10 at 2-5 and eventually missed the playoffs. And after a 4-1 start in '11, they lost six in a row. San Diego still had a chance at the postseason but a Week 16 blowout at the hands of the Lions sealed their fate.
Still, as Judge pointed out, "Quarterback Philip Rivers is a big fan of Turner and voiced his support Sunday for his embattled head coach." And despite fan and media sentiment, San Diego rallied to win three of four and finish in a tie atop the AFC West at 8-8 (the Broncos won the tiebreaker).
Judge adds: "That will go into Spanos' thinking. But so will a business decision. That's one reason he begged off on making an immediate move, saying he needed a couple of days to think about it." But he also notes that the news "doesn't mean Turner is in the clear. On the contrary ... Spanos won't tolerate another 8-8 season, so Turner has been put on alert."
On Tuesday, Spanos sounded like he was confident in his decision.
“We all have our quirks and faults, but I want A.J. and Norv on my side. They are the right men to help us win a championship. … Despite the number of wins we’ve had, the net bottom line is it doesn’t mean anything unless you win a championship. That’s our goal and I am committed to winning a Super Bowl for San Diego.”
This isn't a huge shock, but the Eagles are bringing back Andy Reid, the NFL's longest-tenured coach, for at least one more season.
Jeffrey Lurie, Eagles owner, announced as much (in a lengthy fashion!) during a press conference Tuesday.
"I want to see our team coached by Andy Reid next year and I can't wait," Lurie said. "If our goal is to win title, Andy Reid is our guy."
Lurie also added that any coaching changes are "up to Andy" -- the most obvious decision everyone's wondering about is the possibility of changing defensive coordinators. Juan Castillo was, arguably, more embattled in 2011 than any head coach in the NFL and it won't sit well with the locals if he remains the defensive coordinator, particularly with ex-Eagles coach Steve Spagnuolo now on the free-agent market.
Of course, the Eagles defense was substantially better down the stretch in 2011, but don't think Lurie didn't notice the schedule they had.
In his press conference, Lurie pointed to the Eagles strong close to the season and said that to hold onto a four-game winning streak against teams that didn't make the playoffs would be "fool's gold."
"I think there was a miscalculation of implementing scheme changes in a post-lockout season," Lurie said when pressed about Castillo's status. "Anyone who's known Juan Castillo knows he's an incredibly impressive man. Was he put into a tough situation early? Tough to say."
But Lurie added that the decision to keep or not keep Castillo was completely up to Reid. The only difference, based on Lurie's comments Tuesday, is that Reid would be wise to get his team motivated to play before December this season, otherwise 2011 won't go down as the "most disappointing" season of his career.
Next year will.