The Chargers 2011 season -- a requiem for a once-talented roster -- marches sadly along on Monday in Jacksonville. San Diego, with a win over the Jaguars, could climb within two games of the AFC West lead ... provided both Denver (in Minnesota on Sunday) and Oakland (in Miami Sunday) lose as well.
The season has, to this point, "snowballed out of control," inspired people to question whether or not quarterback Philip Rivers is hurt, and fire up reports that Norv Turner's seat is warmer than the water just off the San Diego coast. Needless to say, things aren't going well, and they could get worse -- Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune reports Saturday that the Bolts have 'no choice' but to fire Turner and that general manager A.J. Smith could be on the chopping block as well.
"The decisions are not made," a team source told Acee. "But everything is lined up."
The Turner news is hardly surprising. It was believed that Norv needed to make the playoffs in order to save his job past this year when the season began. But even with the expected regression of Kansas City, the limitations of the Broncos offensively and Oakland sometimes willing to be Oakland, the Chargers find themselves in the basement of an imminently winnable division.
That's on Turner, and barring a series of miracle events -- just winning out would only get the Chargers to 9-7 -- he's as good as gone.
What will be interesting is the timing of Norv's all-but-guaranteed dismissal, and how that relates to the job security of general manager Smith. If Spanos believes that Smith is his general manager going forward, he could consider relieving Turner of his duties as soon as this week, particularly if the Chargers lose to the Jaguars.
Acee writes, again per a source, that "the needle [on Smith's possible firing] has moved from 50/50 to 75/25."
But it's highly unlikely that Spanos would can both Smith and Turner during the season, and subject the team to the utter chaos and logistical nightmare that would be operating with an interim general manager and coach. Besides, there is a possibility of making a playoff run, however remote. (Football Outsiders gives San Diego a 0.7 percent chance of making the postseason.)
And if Spanos is indeed considering widespread organizational change, expect him to wait until after the season to relieve Turner of his duties. As well as Smith.
Also worth noting: Smith still has three years and $6 million remaining on his contract, and isn't expected to retire any time soon. So he'd likely come at a cheaper cost for another organization that would be interested in bringing him to run their front office. Even if San Diego struggled recently, it's hard to rip Smith too hard, given the success the Chargers have had in his tenure there.
One organization that might be interested is Oakland. Acee reports that Smith, if he's no longer employed by San Diego, "will be on the list of candidates to become the Oakland Raiders general manager in 2012."
Though many things have to happen to make that reality -- starting with Smith's dismissal from San Diego -- it would certainly add another level of intrigue to an already spicy rivalry.
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