SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego Chargers President Dean Spanos has decided to keep coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith despite the team missing the playoffs for the second straight season amid increasing fan discontent.
Spanos made his decision Tuesday, two days after the Chargers finished 8-8 by beating Oakland to keep the Raiders out of the playoffs.
“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.”
Turner is 49-31 in five years in San Diego but only 3-3 in the playoffs. He is 107-113-1 in three stints as a head coach, including with Washington and Oakland. Both of those teams fired him.
San Diego went 4-1 at the beginning and end of the season but was undone by a six-game losing streak in the middle. One more win would have earned the Chargers the AFC West title.
Smith has come under fire for the erosion of talent from a roster that at one time was considered among the NFL’s best.
Turner was hired in February 2007 after Marty Schottenheimer was fired for what Spanos said was a “dysfunctional” relationship with Smith. Turner inherited a team that went 14-2 before melting down in a home playoff loss to New England.
Turner got the Chargers to the AFC championship game his first season before losing at New England. Since then, though, there’s been a steady decline in postseason success. San Diego has won only one playoff game in the last four seasons. Its last postseason appearance was an embarrassing home loss to the New York Jets in January 2010.
While Schottenheimer was fired in part for his team’s collapse against the Patriots in the playoffs, Turner was rewarded after the loss to the Jets by receiving a contract extension.
Smith’s recent drafts have produced more busts than impact players.
The Chargers have only three of their last seven first-round draft picks on the active roster. Shawne Merriman, Antonio Cromartie and Craig Davis are gone.
Outside linebacker Larry English has been injured and has only seven sacks in 29 games in three seasons. Cornerback Antoine Cason was demoted after allowing three touchdown catches by Plaxico Burress in a loss at the New York Jets. Running back Ryan Mathews had his first 1,000-yard season but is injury prone and has whiffed while trying to block blitzers. Defensive end Corey Liuget had a quiet rookie season.