Raiders coach has head up despite four-win season

Updated: January 2, 2006, 11:10 AM ET
Associated Press

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Norv Turner drove away from Raiders headquarters Sunday with plans on coming back Tuesday to begin player evaluations.

Time to face the music
• Mike Tice was fired less than an hour after the Vikings' 34-10 win over the Bears in Sunday's regular season finale. The team announced that owner Zygi Wilf would not renew Tice's contract. Tice had already addressed the media before the move was made public.
• St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz, away from the job since early October as he received treatment for a bacterial infection of a heart valve, had his contract terminated Monday. Still to be determined is whether Martz's termination will take the form of a contract settlement or an outright firing, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
• Texans coach Dom Capers will be fired on Monday, league and team sources told Mortensen. Capers is the only coach the expansion Texans have had during their four-year existence. Houston was 17-45 record under Capers, the 45th loss being a 20-17 overtime defeat in San Francisco that guaranteed the Texans the top pick in the 2006 draft.
• Dick Vermeil went out with a win Sunday, retiring as coach of the Chiefs following a 37-3 dismantling of the Bengals. Kansas City became only the fourth team to go 10-6 and miss the postseason since the NFL expanded the field to 12 teams after the 1990 season. The Steelers' win over the Lions preventing the Chiefs from qualifying.
• The Raiders fired Norv Turner Tuesday following consecutive losing seasons. The 53-year-old Turner, who had a year remaining on his contract worth about $1.75 million, had known his job was in jeopardy for the last two months after struggling to get the most out of a stacked offense. The Raiders went 4-12 -- one fewer win than they had in Turner's first season a year ago -- losing their final six games and eight of nine.
•  Coach Mike Sherman is uncertain of his future after the Packers finished an injury-riddled season at 4-12 Sunday. Packers GM Ted Thompson gave Sherman a two-year contract extension in August. But as injuries and losses have mounted this season, Thompson has sidestepped questions about Sherman's status.

The coach knows he could be cleaning out his desk that day instead.

"Obviously, I would expect a decision would be made relatively soon," Turner said on the heels of the Raiders' season-ending 30-21 loss to the New York Giants on Saturday night. "As I said, I'm ready to go to work. If it's different than that, then I understand it."

Turner's job security has been in question for several months. The Raiders went 4-12 -- one fewer win than they had in Turner's first season a year ago -- losing their final six games and eight of nine.

Oakland has three straight losing seasons and two under Turner, who hasn't produced the immediate turnaround owner Al Davis demanded when he hired the talented offensive coach to succeed Bill Callahan following the 2003 season.

The 53-year-old Turner would like to know as soon as possible whether he will be fired or asked back to fulfill the final year of his contract, worth about $1.75 million.

Turner met with his players Sunday morning before everybody parted ways for the offseason with a similar feeling: that this team greatly underachieved after the roster was upgraded with players such as Randy Moss and LaMont Jordan.

The Raiders failed to win a division game for the first time in Davis' tenure as owner and are 1-11 against the AFC West during Turner's two seasons.

Turner refuses to look back now and second guess anything he's done.

"I don't have any regrets," Turner said. "You go in and do the best you can and give everything you have and you just go and do what you can."

The Raiders were in the game Saturday, just as they have been many times this season, but gave up costly big plays -- namely a 95-yard touchdown run by Tiki Barber and Plaxico Burress' 78-yard catch and run for a score.

"The disappointing thing for me is to be in a game where you look up and you say, 'Hey, we're playing pretty good with these guys, we know it's a good team, we know they've got things they can do,' and bang, we give up a 95-yard run," Turner said. "In each game you can point to a play or two like that and you look and say, 'God, how'd that happen?' "

There are plenty of Raiders players who support Turner and are willing to take the blame for the losing. They think Turner deserves another shot and shouldn't be held responsible for all the problems.

"We think he's coming back next year," rookie linebacker Kirk Morrison said in the parking lot Sunday. "All we can do is try to improve. He's a good coach. We think it was more the players than the coach."

Turner spent nearly seven seasons as Washington Redskins coach, leading them to a 49-59-1 record and just one playoff berth between 1994 and 2000 before being fired with three games left in his final campaign.

The Raiders' five interceptions were an all-time low for a full season. The '72 Oilers, '95 Falcons and last year's Rams each had six.

Third-string Raiders quarterback Andrew Walter is scheduled to have surgery on his troublesome left groin Friday in Philadelphia by William Meyers, the same doctor who operated on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb for a sports hernia.

He will return to Arizona to recover for a few weeks, then rehabilitate at team headquarters.

"It's one of those things where it wouldn't get better, so we've got to get it done," said Walter, who injured the groin in training camp.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press