Turner-Cottrell combo as good as it gets

Ted Cottrell

The pressure is on the Chargers to get this hire right. After bringing the Marty Schottenheimer era to an unceremonious end, there is only one candidate that can rescue San Diego from this public relations nightmare and keep the team on the fast track to the Super Bowl – Norv Turner.

The current offensive coordinator of the 49ers, Turner is the one potential replacement who can ensure to the maintenance of San Diego's offensive efficiency. In fact, Turner was the offensive coordinator of the Chargers in 2001, when he installed the scheme carried on by Cam Cameron all the way through last season.

The Chargers met with Turner on the afternoon of Thursday, February 15th. San Diego must have liked not just his résumé, but the idea of hiring of head coach who can call plays on offense, lessening the burden on first-time coordinator Clarence Shelmon.

Turner is known for utilizing an explosive running game to set up play action and open things up downfield, so running backs that play for him tend to excel. Emmitt Smith, LaDainian Tomlinson, Ricky Williams and Frank Gore all had monster statistical seasons under his guidance, making reuniting Turner with the reigning MVP incredibly tempting.

It will also help that Turner has head coaching experience, having coaches the Redskins from 1994-2000 and the Raiders from 2004-2005. His overall record as a head coach is an uninspiring 58-82-1, although those numbers are negatively skewed by his stint in the coaching black hole known as Oakland.

Turner's most glaring weakness is his lack of defensive proficiency. That is why proclaiming him the ideal hire comes with a caveat, which is that the Chargers hire Ted Cottrell as defensive coordinator. That would give San Diego a second experienced coach, one with a reputation for running stingy 3-4 defenses.

Cottrell has worked as the defensive coordinator of the Bills, Jets and Vikings. He is known for shutting down opposing running games, forcing teams into obvious passing situations and then bringing heavy pressure. Those are the same principals the Chargers defense is founded upon, making Cottrell a natural fit.

It is not easy to replace a coach like Schottenheimer, who has 200 career wins and had led the Chargers to three consecutive winning seasons. However, the combo of Turner and Cottrell gives San Diego its best shot to go for four in a row.

In 2006, the Chargers offense and defense both ranked in league's top 10. Turner and Cottrell have the ability to keep both units in those lofty positions and can do so with out changing the schemes on either side of the ball. Also, adding that duo would add 45 years of combined coaching experience to a team that just lost more than its fair share of it.

The Turner-Cottrell combo may not be the perfect solution for the Chargers. But given the team's imperfect predicament, that duo may be as good as it gets.

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