No Immediate Firings After Finale

Monday came and went; Norv Turner and A.J. Smith went nowhere. While Black Monday left a mark around the NFL, the Chargers' embattled coach and general manager are still on the job.

A day after San Diego capped an 8-8 season with a win over the Raiders, there was little hard news escaping from the franchise. With the team missing the playoffs for the second straight year -- the Chargers have had one playoff win in four seasons -- Turner and Smith have felt considerable heat pointed their direction.

However, team president Dean Spanos said he wasn't going to do anything rash. Spanos is going to be pragmatic instead of emotional while researching his options.

"Honestly, I'm going to sleep on this for a couple of days, then I am going to make a decision," Spanos said while leaving the field Sunday in Oakland. "There are a lot of things I want to think about. I'm riding high a little bit right now, and I want to take the emotion out of the thought process."

Turner made light of his status at Monday's press conference.

"What were they going to do?" he said. "Leave me in Oakland?"

There's no mystery this was another disappointing season for the Chargers, a team not that far removed from a four-year run of AFC West titles, but a six-game losing streak did them in. Still, they rallied at the end, winning three of their final four games, to make it possible Spanos brings Smith and Turner.

But don't discount how big that win in Oakland was Sunday. Not only did it give San Diego a .500 record, but it also kept the Chargers' archrival, the Raiders, from earning a playoff berth.

"I'm proud of these guys, and I don't think many people gave us a chance," Spanos said of winning on the road. "I think it really shows how determined this team is and how resilient they are and how hard they play for this coach."

Was the players' effort enough to save Turner's job? Spanos will let everyone know sometime soon.

"To be consistent, I'm looking at the entire organization; I do that every year," Spanos said. "Don't read anything more into that than that, OK?"

Players give Turner their support

--Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers can't make it simpler: He wants Norv Turner to remain his coach.

"It's unfortunate the way that the year has gone, but I believe Norv is the guy," Rivers said. "I hadn't followed him when he was in Washington and Oakland, but from the five years with him, he's always had a false perception on the outside, and it's not his fault. Since the day he got here, it was, 'Why is he here?'"

Turner also has the backing of Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates and the offensive line.

--Left guard Kris Dielman, who is under contract, is considering retirement. Dielman went on injured reserve after suffering another concussion this season, and this one later caused a seizure. Dielman, a Pro Bowler who turns 31 next month, is hoping to the let the team know of his intentions soon, but there is doubt.

"It's not just me I have to worry about," Dielman said. "I have two little boys and a wife. I have to make sure everything's all right with me, and I have to see some doctors still and make a decision from there."

--Among the Chargers' soon-to-be free agents are wide receivers Vincent Jackson, center Nick Hardwick and tight end Randy McMichael.

"It won't be the same team next year," receiver Malcom Floyd said. "I hope they bring back Randy and Jackson. But that is not my job."

Jackson, who got the team's franchise tag this year, said he doesn't know whether he'll be back next season.

"That stuff is not in my control; that is an organizational decision," he said. "If (I do leave), I had a great run here. I would love to come back, but we will see what happens."

--The Chargers have had trouble avoiding local TV blackouts of late. Next year's schedule doesn't offer much relief. The home games: Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders, Ravens, Bengals, Titans, Falcons and Panthers. The road games: Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders, Browns, Steelers, Jets, Saints and Buccaneers.

PLAYER NOTES

--LT Marcus McNeill, who went on injured reserve with a neck injury and has a history of spinal issues, plans on returning next season.

--K Nate Kaeding, who injured his knee in the opener and went on injured reserve, plans to be back next year. The question remains if Nick Novak, his replacement, will push him for the job.

--RB Ryan Mathews wasn't able to play in the finale due to a calf injury; it isn't considered serious. Mathews finished as a 1,000-yard rusher and was better in taking care of the ball this year.

--LT Jared Gaither played well after the Chargers picked him up off waivers, starting every game since Week 13. With Marcus McNeill's health issues, the team would like to have Gaither back.

--C Nick Hardwick is another key free agent, and like LG Kris Dielman, he is wrestling with his future. Hardwick is concerned about health issues after his career.

REPORT CARD VS. RAIDERS

PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Philip Rivers campaigned for coach Norv Turner during the game with his play and afterward with his words. Rivers threw three touchdown passes after a game-opening pick. He passed for 310 yards, as he consistently picked the right receiver with the right read. The key was his protection, which allowed for such a luxury. Malcom Floyd had 127 yards and a score on seven receptions; his downfield partner, tight end Antonio Gates also had a 100-yard game.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- The Chargers got the bully treatment the last time they played the Raiders, but this time they rushed for 153 yards. Despite Ryan Mathews being out, Mike Tolbert and Curtis Brinkley compensated for it. Good run blocking as well. Vincent Jackson was nifty with a 41-yard reverse.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- The Chargers got picked on at the corners, and safety Steve Gregory was also off. There was no pass rush, with an injury (Shaun Phillips) and an ejection (Antwan Barnes) putting a crimp in the heat delivered. Carson Palmer was able to pass for 417 yards and two scores, though Antoine Cason did have an interception. The lack of a pass rush was a huge problem.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Michael Bush never got in a rhythm, and some of that was because the Raiders fell behind early. But the ground defense was decent, with ILB Donald Butler leading with 10 tackles and ILB Takeo Spikes adding eight tackles. The Chargers' front was blown off the ball early, then made an adjustment and got it right.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Richard Goodman's club-record 105-yard kickoff return was a thing of beauty. However, his touchdown was nearly offset by a fourth-quarter blunder when he fielded a kickoff on the 1 and almost got tackled for a safety. Mike Scifres never got to punt. The Chargers' coverages were just average.

COACHING: A -- With not much riding on this one, the Chargers played as if they were the one trying to seal a playoff spot. Coach Norv Turner emptied the play book, let loose, and the result was one of the Chargers' best showings of the season. The blemishes remained on defense, and until a pass rush is discovered, that will remain the same. But Turner deserves credit for keeping his players interested in what could have been a ho-hum performance.


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