Turner Faces Tough Questions

Norv Turner is well versed in adversity. He worked under...and was fired by…both Daniel Snyder and Al Davis, two owners whose teams are always closer to the salary-cap threshold than the Super Bowl. It is time for Turner to apply those lessons learned, as the new Chargers coach faces a list of questions tougher than a $2 steak.

On offense, Turner quickly learned that his bread and butter is Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson. Gates has been the team's MVP thus far, catching 16 passes for 184 yards and two scores. Tomlinson has been held in check but still managed 134 yards from scrimmage and a pair of scores, one rushing and one passing.

Turner must decide how to divvy up opportunities between his All-Pro tandem and their All-Potential supporting cast. Even when combining the stats of Vincent Jackson and Craig Davis, the duo has yet to log double-digit receptions, top the century mark or score a single touchdown.

Turner has a knack for grooming young players and cannot allow these talented receivers to slip out of the offensive rotation. Then again, it is hard to justify taking touches away from Tomlinson and Gates when the offense is struggling.

"The thing that I take the most pride in is the development of young players, whether it is the quarterback, a running back, a tight end or wide receiver," Turner said. "I can go back through every stop I've had and the willingness to play young players -- a lot of guys get nervous about that -- but (I've had) the willingness to play them and watch them grow as players."

On defense, Turner and coordinator Ted Cottrell must find a way to play to the strengths of each member of the secondary. For Quentin Jammer, that means jamming receivers on the line and playing man coverage. For Marlon McCree, it means sliding up into the box. For Clinton Hart, that entails playing centerfield.

Not matter how ferocious the Chargers pass rush may be, there is no way to bail out the secondary in every passing situation. With games against Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Vince Young still ahead, this problem cannot be left to linger.

One solution is changing in the starting line-up, whether replacing Hart with Eric Weddle or Florence with Antonio Cromartie. Another option is reassigning assistant secondary coach Kevin Ross, as the two-coach system is causing some confusion within the coverage units. Either way, Turner must find an answer posthaste.

"Certainly we have a lot of improving to do," Turner said. "To be the team we're capable of being, we're going to have to play at a high level in all three phases."

As for the special teams, Turner is still waiting on something special to happen. After the New England Patriots went up 17-0 early in the second quarter, the coach replaced Michael Turner with Darren Sproles, hoping the speedster could take one to the house. Instead, he yielded a modest 20-yard return.

Turner hinted before the season opener that Cromartie would get a look on kickoff returns and the time for that is fast approaching.

"We're getting (Cromartie) prepared…At some point in the season, he's getting ready to do it," Turner said.

For Norv Turner, the 2007 Chargers are a lot like the 1995 film Batman Forever. His team is posing more questions than the Riddler and playing as inconsistent as Two-Face.


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