Players Rally 'Round Turner

What once appeared to be a dream job has quickly turned into a nightmare for Norv Turner. It took him only four games to assure his team a worse record than last season. As the questions mount and pressure rises, the team leaders are standing up behind their new head man in a sign of solidarity.

The biggest question plaguing Norv Turner concerns his play calling in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs. With a 10-point lead and an all-world running back averaging more than 8 yards per rush, Turner gave LaDainian Tomlinson just six carries in the second half.

True, the running lanes were closing down after intermission, as Tomlinson's second half averaged dropped to 2.7 yards. But in that instance, Coach Turner should given more carries to Michael Turner, who touched the ball just twice against the Chiefs -- earning more than $135,000 per carry.

"I've never been one to get involved with a call on offense or defense," Philip Rivers said. "We get a call and we've got to make it go. If a handful of plays in either of these last two games go differently, then the play calling is perfect. So, I don't really buy into the whole play-call issue."

Tomlinson was oblivious to his limited number of carries during the second half. Part of that was due to his involvement in the passing game, where he finished with more receptions than Vincent Jackson and Craig Davis combined (five). Another factor was the chaotic scene on the sidelines as the Chargers were unable to quell their turnover spree.

The reigning MVP is never satisfied when he finishes a half with more tackles than touchdowns. But even that won't prompt him to question his coach.

"You take (losing) for what it's worth and you control what you can control," Tomlinson said. "That's the way I always approach it. I'm going to control what I can control and the (play calling), I have nothing to do with it."

Players on the defensive side of the ball were equally supportive. Shawne Merriman has challenged himself to play better and intends on leading his troops by example. Others, such as Shaun Phillips, have been more vocal.

"Obviously, we're not on the same page yet. But we have a lot of fighters on this team who are never going to quit and never going to give up. You can see that, until the last extra point, guys were busting through and trying to make a play," Phillips said.

Phillips believes in the schemes implemented by Coach Turner and Defensive Coordinator Ted Cottrell. He notes that there have been subtle changes to the system first implemented by Wade Phillips and remains confident that the 2007 Chargers can play better defense than the 2006 squad once all the wrinkles are ironed out.

Luckily for the new regime, the players are still buying what they're selling. But patience is wearing thin and time is running short.


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