Tag:A.J. Smith
Posted on: January 5, 2012 1:14 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 6:00 pm
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Chargers fire defensive coordinator Greg Manusky

Greg Manusky was fired by Norv Turner (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

UPDATE: 5:58 p.m. ET - Several outlets are reporting that longtime Chargers defensive assistant John Pagano has been hired as the team's new defensive coordinator.

The Chargers will look for their second defensive coordinator since Jan. 2011. That’s because, as the San Diego Union Tribune reports, San Diego has fired Greg Manusky.

“I’d like to thank Greg for the passion and enthusiasm he brought to our team and coaching staff this past season,” Turner in a statement released by the team.

Only a season ago, after Ron Rivera left for the Panthers head coaching job (a job in which Manusky actually was one of four finalists), the Chargers hired Manusky to replace him. Before that, Manusky had been the 49ers defensive coordinator, but when Jim Harbaugh was hired, he made it clear Manusky wouldn’t stay in San Francisco.

When it became clear that Norv Turner and San Diego general manager A.J. Smith would be retained by owner Dean Spanos, some kind of change still needed to be made. Manusky -- whose unit finished 16th in the league  in yards allowed -- just became that fall guy.

Of course, this move IS rather interesting, considering this is what Turner said about Manusky THREE days ago.

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"I would not characterize the hiring of Greg Manusky as a mistake," Turner said, via the North County Times. "He has done a good job for us. Losing so many guys and playing so many young players is difficult.

"Defensively, it's all about having impact players. If you don't have players that can [beat] a guy one-on-one and make a big play, you're not going to get the number of stops you need to get. It's been a hard year for all of us and a tough year for Greg, but I thought he did a good job."

So, if it’s not Manusky’s fault, as Turner flat-out says, but instead, the fault of whomever is in charge of player personnel, it sounds like Manusky got a raw deal. Especially since the general manager in charge of player personnel still has a job.

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Posted on: January 2, 2012 11:19 am
Edited on: January 2, 2012 1:45 pm
 

Rams officially fire Steve Spagnuolo, GM Devaney

The Rams are cleaning house on Monday. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Monday, St. Louis fired third-year coach Steve Spagnuolo as well as general manager Billy Devaney, beginning a house-cleaning process in order to get the franchise turned around after another two-win season.

The team announced both of the firings around 11:30 a.m. ET.

Black Monday

"I would like to personally thank Steven and Billy for their dedication to the St. Louis Rams over the past several seasons," owner Stan Kroenke said in a statement released by the team. "This was a difficult decision for many reasons. We have tremendous respect for them as people and professionals. No one individual is to blame for this disappointing season and we all must hold ourselves accountable.

"However, we believe it’s in the best interest of the St. Louis Rams to make theses changes as we continue our quest to build a team that consistently competes for playoffs and championships. We wish Steve, Billy and their families the very best in the future and thank them again for their commitment to our organization and the city of St. Louis.”

Ryan Wilson's already detailed everything you need to know about Spags' tenure, when the news of his firing broke earlier Monday, and there's a good chance he bounces back quickly in terms of landing a coordinator job, despite

Devaney, 12-52 as Rams general manager, was hired in 2008 after working under Rich McKay with the Atlanta Falcons and his first major move with St. Louis was hiring Spags.

Things looked to be turning the corner for the Rams in 2010, when they fell one game short of a division title thanks to Sam Bradford's outstanding rookie year, but everything collapsed back to Earth in 2011, as the Rams won just two games and ended up with the second-worst record in the NFL, behind only the Colts.

In Devaney's four years with the team, the Rams drafted with the second, second, first and fourteenth picks.

Not helping matters for the duo is the fact that Kroenke's status: Kroenke became majority owner of the Rams late in 2010

There's been plenty of rumors surrounding a tandem replacement for Devaney that involves A.J. Smith (if he's let go from the Chargers) and Jon Gruden (if he leaves ESPN).

Either way, as Clark Judge noted, it would be wise of the team to find a general manager and coach who're offensive-minded enough to bring in talent and work/develop Bradford into an elite NFL quarterback.

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Posted on: December 31, 2011 12:27 pm
 

Gruden says 'I'll be back at ESPN' next year

GrudenBy Josh Katzowitz

Rumors have been swirling the past few weeks that Jon Gruden will leave ESPN’s Monday Night Football set and return to the sidelines to coach in 2012.

Two of Mike Freeman’s sources told him recently that Gruden is indeed leaning toward coaching next season. As Freeman wrote, “Some of this might be semantics. I'm told Gruden wants to see what positions he could possibly get before making a 100 percent final decision and that he hasn't officially made one yet because of the uncertainty … And while I fully expect Gruden to issue a statement with some sort of non-denial/denial saying he's happy at ESPN, he's eyeing a return.”

And now we’ve got that non-denial/denial saying he’s happy at ESPN.

"I love my job and I'll be back at ESPN with the guys,'' Gruden told the Tampa Tribune. "I'm not going anywhere.”

The hottest rumor states that, assuming A.J. Smith is fired as general manager by the Chargers, the Rams will hire him and Gruden to help turn around that franchise. We’ve even got to the point of wondering whether Smith and Gruden would prefer Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck at quarterback instead of Sam Bradford. Not so fast, Gruden said.

"I enjoy being with our ESPN team,'' Gruden said. "I'm staying put.”

But be advised to be wary of whatever Gruden says. After all, if you listen to former VP of officiating Mike Pereira, Gruden is a blowhard, and even more damning than that is when Gruden’s former quarterback, Shaun King, called him "inherently dishonest.”

Which means, I guess, that we still have no idea what Gruden ultimately wants. And probably won’t until the Rams (or some other squad) ultimately are in need of a new coach.

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Posted on: December 25, 2011 3:41 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 5:27 pm
 

Did Bill Cowher already interview for the SD job?

Turner

By Josh Katzowitz

Now that the Chargers have been knocked out of the playoff picture officially after the Lions dominated them on Saturday, we can almost surely expect to see the front office fire coach Norv Turner.

That’s especially true after a report surfaced last week that said that in order for Turner and San Diego general manager A.J. Smith to save their jobs, the Chargers needed to win the final two games of the season.

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That obviously didn’t happen, so now, the discussion has turned to who could replace Turner. And while our CBS colleague Bill Cowher continues to say he’s not interested in leaving the world of TV (even Dan Marino, in answering a question about the open Dolphins job, said he didn’t think Cowher’s mindset was in returning to coaching), the New York Post has reported that Cowher already interviewed in San Diego.

“I was told this week by an in-the-know source with intimate knowledge of the San Diego sports scene that Cowher already had ‘an interview’ with high-ranking people inside the Chargers organization who were gauging his interest and that he expressed his interest in the job should Norv Turner be fired,” wrote Mark Cannizzaro in the Post.

That report, though, is at odds with what the San Diego Union Tribune is writing. Reported Kevin Acee: “Two Chargers sources said unequivocally and vehemently on Saturday that the Chargers have not talked to Cowher.”

Making matters more complicated was the fact that former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, who figures to be a popular coaching choice this offseason (including, perhaps, with the Chargers), was in Detroit and talking with Turner before the game (Fisher’s son is a defensive assistant for the Lions).

Owner Dean Spanos told the Union-Trib that he’d wait until next week to make a decision on Turner.

Look, chances are Cowher won’t be the one to replace him, because it’s unlikely Cowher will return to the game this season (if ever).

Yet, even though Cowher recently told Sports Illustrated this, “People don't understand. I'm not coaching. I'm enjoying life more right now than I ever have,” his name won’t evaporate from coaching searches anytime soon. Even if he really is intent on not ever returning.




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Posted on: December 23, 2011 11:22 am
Edited on: December 23, 2011 12:38 pm
 

Report: Norv, Smith's jobs depend on last 2 weeks

Norv Turner could potentially save his job with a 2-0 finish to 2011. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

At the beginning of December, the idea that Norv Turner could survive into next season as Chargers head coach was borderline laughable. San Diego was 4-7, dead in the water for the playoffs and Turner was as good as gone. Over the last three weeks, though, things have changed -- and it appears Norv can save his gig.

In fact, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the jobs of Turner and GM A.J. Smith "hinge on results in the final two weeks."

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Put simply, it sounds like the Chargers winning out -- they play at Detroit on Christmas Eve and then at Oakland on New Year's Day -- will save the jobs of Turner and Smith.

After the Chargers victory over the Ravens in Week 14 it appeared as if the tides were starting to turn in Norv's favor; Philip Rivers said "it would be crazy" to dump the coach and Acee reported that just getting to the Raiders game with a shot at the playoffs would "speak volumes" to team president Dean Spanos.


Spanos now believes, according to Acee's report on Friday, that the support provided to the team and Norv by the fans and players, respectively, indicate that things aren't that far away from being on the right track.

If the Chargers make the playoffs, Smith and Turner are likely safe. If they miss the playoffs, at least a 1-1 or 2-0 record is probably necessary to save their jobs, although it's worth noting that the two also appear joined at the hip moving forward.

"If Smith is retained, no one should think he will need a new head coach," Acee wrote Friday. "Sources inside and outside Chargers Park say Smith believes in Turner now as much as he did when he went out on a limb and hired him in 2007."

So the Chargers will play out the string and then Spanos will make a decision as to whether or not Smith remains; that decision will obviously affect whether or not Turner returns as well.

But if the Bolts can manage to close out the season 2-0, that decision could suddenly be a lot easier for Spanos, and easier on Turner and Smith.


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Posted on: December 19, 2011 7:54 pm
 

Rivers: 'It would be crazy' to fire Norv Turner

By Will Brinson

Just a few weeks ago, the Chargers were "almost certainly" set to fire coach Norv Turner. But after San Diego's third straight win -- a 34-14 beatdown of Baltimore on Sunday night -- the tone in San Diego is starting to change a little bit regarding Turner's tenure.

Philip Rivers doesn't need to change his stance, though. He's been on board with Norv since Day 1, and reiterated his feelings Sunday night.

"Regardless of what happens the next two weeks," Rivers told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "It would be crazy for Norv to not be here. We’ve won 48 games in five years. Norv can’t make every throw. Norv didn’t fumble. You can’t go, 'Gee, Norv, why did you throw that pass?'"

Acee also reports that if the Chargers get to 8-7 and a chance to make the playoffs with a game against Oakland in Week 17 "that will have spoken volumes to team president Dean Spanos."

And, of course, if the Chargers happen to make the playoffs, after their start, it might be tough to fire Norv, particularly if the team advances deep at all.

It seems ridiculous to think of the Chargers as "contenders" still, but here's the thing: over the past few years, we've seen a number of different teams (the 2007 Giants, the 2010 Packers) sneak into the playoffs after getting hot at the end of the year and then run the table.

Turner and Rivers have plenty of work to do before they get to that point in the first place, but if they can at least manuever themselves in position to even get a shot at the playoffs, it's hard not to be impressed.

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:46 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 9:48 pm
 

Even if fired, Turner, A.J. Smith should be OK

Turner, SmithBy Josh Katzowitz

As just about everybody here at CBSSports.com has predicted, Chargers coach Norv Turner likely will be fired after this season, and there’s also a pretty decent chance general manager A.J. Smith will get a pink slip in his final paycheck (probably because the season has "snowballed out of control," moreso than most would have thought).

That’s especially true if Chargers owner Dean Spanos wants to go after former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, because there’s a high probability Fisher wouldn’t take the job if Smith is still in the GM chair.

But according to the San Diego Union Tribune, neither Turner nor Smith should fret too much about their job security. That’s because sources tell the paper that both men would be in high demand if and when they’re banished from the Chargers franchise.
 
As reporters Kevin Acee and Andrew Burer write, “League sources have said over the past two weeks that if Turner is fired he will be in high demand as an offensive coordinator and his availability could even prompt teams to drop current coordinators. Smith is also predicted to have multiple opportunities should he be jettisoned. … It is believed Smith will be a candidate when the Oakland Raiders hire a general manager job and also be in line for possible job openings in St. Louis and Miami.”

Turner running out of time
That’s because, even with their failings in San Diego, the two are talented football men. Turner was an offensive coordinator in Dallas in the early 1990s when the Cowboys were one of the top offensive teams in the NFL. Unfortunately for Turner, he was not a good head coaching hire for the Redskins, and though the Chargers have had good seasons in the Turner era, he certainly hasn’t taken the organization to the elite level.

Smith took over the GM role in 2003, and since then, the Chargers have had four seasons of at least 11 wins. But his contract disputes with Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill last year have scarred his reputation, and Turner’s failings have become Smith’s failings as well.

Though Smith still has three years and $6 million left on his current contract, it’s seeming likelier that he won’t be around after this year. As one of Acee’s sources said earlier this month, “The needle [on Smith's possible firing] has moved from 50/50 to 75/25."

And for Turner, that needle is at about 100 percent.




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Posted on: December 3, 2011 4:28 pm
 

Bolts to 'almost certainly' fire GM Smith, Norv?

Posted by Will Brinson

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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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com