The rally cry to fire general manager A.J. Smith and coach Norv Turner reached a fever pitch at the end of last season when San Diego missed the playoffs for the second straight year. Despite many fans’ displeasure with these two, however, statistics suggest the Chargers are in the mist of their glory days.
Here’s how the numbers stack up.
Smith became the winningest GM in team history (93) with this season’s 2-0 start. Smith is also tied for the most division titles (5) and playoff wins (3).
Turner has the highest winning percentage (54-34, .614) of any coach in franchise history. He’s an impressive 22-9 against AFC West opponents, with an 8-3 record against the Raiders and 7-3 against the Broncos and Chiefs.
Smith hired Turner after he fired Marty Schottenheimer following the 2006 season, when the Chargers went 14-2. It was the best regular season in Bolts history, but Schottenheimer failed to win a playoff game.
Turner was handed a team rich in talent and was hired with the promise he could lead the Chargers to the Super Bowl. San Diego reached the AFC Championship game in 2007, but has fallen further away each year thereafter.
The Chargers of today are not the same team Turner inherited - only 8 of 53 players from the 2006 roster remain. Despite a barrage of player turnover, however, the Turner era has consistently produced one of the most dynamic offenses in the history of football.
The Chargers have scored a touchdown in 151 straight games. Only the Cleveland Browns (166, from 1959-69) have had a longer streak.
Many consider the Don Coryell era (1979-86) as the Chargers glory days. But even Coryell’s high powered offense led by Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts was shut out three times. Coryell went 69-54 (.610) in the regular season, 3-4 in playoffs and failed to reach the Super Bowl.
Statistics can always be manipulated, but perhaps the truth is - even if Turner never gets San Diego to the Super Bowl - the Chargers glory days are now.
Dan McLellan is the Chargers RapidReporter for CBSSports.com. He is also the co-host of Sports Squawk Sunday, broadcast 9 - 10 a.m. Sundays on XTRA Sports 1360 AM. Follow him on @SanDiegoSports and @CBSChargers.
Goal to Go
Norv Turner is the 33rd winningest head coach in NFL history with 113 career wins. John Madden had 112 wins. Don Coryell is 32nd on the list with 114. Turner needs four wins to tie Dennis Green (117) for 31st, five to tie George Allen (118) for 30th and 10 wins to tie former Chargers coach Sid Gillman (112) for 29th.
Antonio Gates needs three catches to become the fifth tight end and the 59th player overall in NFL history with 600 career catches.
Gates (75) needs six touchdowns to match wide receiver Lance Alworth (81) for the most TDs in team history.
Quarterback Philip Rivers (24,800) needs 2,138 passing yards to catch John Hadl (26,938) for the second-place spot in franchise history. Dan Fouts is first with 43,040 passing yards.
Rivers needs 200 yards to become the 63rd QB in NFL history with 25,000 career passing yards.
Outside linebacker Shaun Phillips has 62 career sacks, which is fourth in team history. He needs 3.5 sacks to tie Lee Williams (65.5) for third; five to tie Garry “Big Hands” Johnson (67) for second. Leslie O’Neal had the most sacks in franchise history with 105.5.
Free safety Eric Weddle (14) needs 6 interceptions to break into the team’s top-10 for career interceptions. He tied for league lead in 2011 with 7 picks and already has an interception this season. Gil Byrd still holds first place with 42 career interceptions for San Diego.