- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Dean Spanos made the right decision Monday.
It’s too bad it was a year too late.
Time is precious in the NFL and the Chargers will never got back the 2012 season, which goes down as an unnecessarily lost season.
The Chargers can look at their AFC West rival Denver Broncos as an example of making a harsh decision at the right time. Denver dismissed Josh McDaniels before his second season with the team was complete in 2010. The Broncos didn’t worry that it was too soon. Now, two years later, the Broncos are as healthy as any franchise in the NFL. It all began with the McDaniels firing.
Last year, Spanos kept general manager A.J. Smith and coach Norv Turner because they were good football men. He liked them and the players liked them. But their time was up. They were no longer effective in their roles. So, instead of making the decision to move on, Spanos waited until the Chargers went 7-9 in 2012.
San Diego badly needs an infusion of new blood. It needs to become a healthy franchise.
Smith and Turner did some good things. But the program got stagnant and the talent base has dried up some. Smith was with the team for 10 years and Turner was there for six years.
Four years ago, this was one of the NFL’s best rosters. That is no longer the case. Several free agents, such as Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles and Mike Tolbert have left and the program has suffered. Smith has been unable to keep up the roster because of free-agent and draft decisions that didn’t work.
He will never be forgiven by the fan base for passing up Clay Matthews in favor of Larry English in the first round four years ago. The 2010 blockbuster trade to get running back Ryan Mathews is looking shaky as well.
The decisions have shown on the field. The Chargers' offensive production has suffered a steep decline in the past three seasons. After starting 32-16 in San Diego, Turner finished 24-24.
Smith and Turner were given more than enough time. They were given a year’s worth too much time.
What’s next for them?
Smith could interest some teams. There will be a lot of front-office change, so he could be in the mix.
Turner is considered one of the NFL’s all-time great offensive coordinators. He will be sought after. If Mike McCoy gets a job (he is interviewing in Chicago and Arizona), I could see Denver having interest. I could see the Jets and the Ravens (if they make a hire) being interested as well. Turner should get his pick of jobs as he likely moves from his final job as an NFL head coach.