Turner cherishing his new lot in life

It has been suggested that Norv Turner landed in a tough situation in San Diego, as there is no where to go but down for a team coming off a 14-win season. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Chargers are loaded with talent and primed to challenge for a third division title in a four-year span. If that is a tough situation, Turner can expect no sympathy from his coaching peers.

The Chargers have thus far accomplished all of their offseason goals. Key free agents Kris Dielman, Carlos Polk and Cory Withrow have all been re-signed. Additionally, the team has maintained schematic continuity on both sides of the ball despite the coaching turnover.

As if that weren't enough, the Chargers are in great position to improve on draft day. The team already has four first-day picks (one is a compensatory selection) and could gain another if Michael Turner is traded. San Diego was also awarded an extra fifth-round selection.

"That was nice," said Turner of the extra draft picks. "We anticipated the three, but the five was a bonus."

Any improvement by the Chargers will be bad news bears for their division foes. San Diego won the AFC West by five games in 2006 and went 5-1 in the division. The Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders are all expected to start the 2007 season with different quarterbacks than they featured on opening day just a year ago.

While the Broncos and Chiefs are both good enough to challenge the Chargers, at least San Diego can bank on a pair of wins over its rivals from Oakland. If anyone thinks Turner has a tough job in taking over the Chargers, imagine what lies ahead for Raiders' coach Lane Kiffin.

"I don't think any of us, the first year on the job, know what is in store," Turner said.

As for the working conditionings Kiffin is walking into: "They're unique, yes, to say the least."

Although Turner's professional post is more desirable than Kiffin's, it is equally unique. Rarely does a coach take over a team that won the most games in the league the season prior.

The perception that improving the Chargers is mission impossible is vastly overstated. If Turner's team goes 9-7, makes the playoffs and wins even a single game, he will be viewed as a savior by the majority of the Bolts' fan base.

"It doesn't happen very often," said Turner of taking over such a successful team. "George Seifert took over the San Francisco 49ers and people told him, 'You're going to have trouble duplicating what they've done.' And he did better."

Time will tell if Turner can do better than Marty Schottenheimer did in San Diego. If he can get the Chargers into the playoffs, it will be hard not to trump Schottenheimer's 0-2 mark.

True, Turner is under tremendous pressure to lead his team into the postseason. But it could be worse. He could be back in Oakland.


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