Chargers excited by new staff

Fans have reason to be skeptical. The Chargers sent Marty Schottenheimer and his 200 career wins packing and replaced him with Norv Turner, a coach with a .415 career winning percentage. Although hiring Turner won't boost season ticket sales, it was a boon in the eyes of the players who were fearful of excessive change following a 14-win season.

Turner will not be asked to improve on the team's success from a season ago, just to maintain it. The one area in which he should make a noticeably positive impact is the development of Philip Rivers. Although Rivers had a fantastic first season at the helm, he began to struggle as the year wore on.

Working with Turner should allow Rivers to find success more consistently. Turner is known for grooming young passers, the latest example being Alex Smith. In Turner's one year as offensive coordinator of the 49ers, Smith's passer rating improved by 34 points.

"I am excited about Coach Turner and what he will bring to our team," Rivers said. "I'm anxious to begin working with him to bring a championship to San Diego."

Charger backers looking for a reason to get excited about the addition of Turner need look no further than to the grief-stricken expressions adorned by 49ers fans.

"I would say that I learned more with Norv last year than in my previous 12 years in the league," said Trent Dilfer, a back-up quarterback with the 49ers who led the Ravens to a Super Bowl win in 2001. "The Chargers' gain is the 49ers' loss. San Diego is getting a great guy and a great coach."

Actually, the Chargers acquired three great coaches. After losing the highly touted trio Schottenheimer, Cam Cameron and Wade Phillips, the team rebounded nicely by adding a new trio brimming with both experience and know-how: Turner, Defensive Coordinator Ted Cottrell and Linebackers Coach Ron Rivera.

Cottrell's hiring ensures that the defensive scheme will stay in place – he worked as defensive coordinator under Wade Phillips when the latter was the head coach in Buffalo.

"Ted is one of the NFL's most respected defensive minds," said Head Coach Norv Turner. "And his experience and success with the 3-4 defense will help us maintain continuity on that side of the ball and grow and get better."

Rivera's addition was the team's biggest coup. A hot head coaching candidate during each of the last two offseasons, the former linebacker can now focus on developing a Charger unit which will sport a new look in 2007.

"Ron's qualifications speak for themselves," Turner said. "He has a wide range of experience with a variety of defenses as both a player and a coach."

So even though the new staff has not been received with overwhelming fan fare, the Chargers should be commended for making the best of a bad situation. It is never ideal to fire a head coach in the second week of February and be the last team to fill its vacancy, but the Chargers have rebounded nicely and the players are excited as a result.

Said nose tackle Jamal Williams: "It's going to be exciting for all of us."

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