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Norv Turner: I'm proud of what these guys have done

Posted Jan 2, 2013

Former Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner addresses the media at a press conference.

NORV TURNER


Opening statement:

“We met in here about an hour ago with the team and it was awesome. It was great and we gave out game balls. To me, that’s what it’s all about. Philip Rivers got a game ball, (Micheal) Spurlock got a game ball for his great return. Melvin Ingram got a game ball for his awesome punt and kick coverage and three big tackles. I gave Takeo Spikes a game ball because I told our players that it was going to be a fight and if you’re playing the Raiders, you know it’s going to be a fight. He took it a little more literal than I wish he would have, but that’s what he’s all about and he’s really something. Jackie Battle got a game ball. He’s tough and had a bunch of collisions yesterday. So it was great and I thanked the guys for everything that they’ve done. I stand up in this room and I get to see guys like Jamal Williams, Marcus McNeill, (Kris) Dielman, (Mike) Tolbert, Darren Sproles, Shawne Merriman, guys that I’ve been fortunate enough to be with the last six years. The latter guys that I talked about, we went to New England in 2007 and had a chance and were close to getting into the Super Bowl, which is the thing that we’re obviously trying to get done with this team. This team hadn’t won a playoff game since 1994 when I first got here and we won three playoff games. I’m proud of that. I think that we have a lot of guys who have played their best and who have gotten the most out of their ability, so I’m extremely proud of that. It’s been a lot of fun. The last three years have been an awful lot of work because we’ve had continuously changing lineups. That’s the hardest thing to coach. We’ve lost a lot of players to injuries and free agency. That’s the hardest thing on players. It caught up to Philip (Rivers) this year and had a real effect on him. The coach who comes in here will be impressed with the work ethic. The way these guys work on a daily basis, how much football means to them. When they start looking at the tape, I think that they’ll see that this team has been extremely well-coached and they’ll need to find a way to add more players so they can compete in this league. As I’ve said, I’m proud of what these guys have done and in most cases, I think that we’ve gotten the most out of them.”

On what he thinks is next for him:

“It’s way too early for me to say what’s next. I enjoy coaching. I got a note at Christmas from Josh Whitman who is the Athletic Director at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and he was only here a year in 2001. He wrote a note and thanked me for everything. I hadn’t seen him since he left here. On the bottom of it he said, ‘you changed my life.’ That is what you are trying to do as a coach.  I’ve got some time to think about what I want to do, but I do have some time to coach. I’m young and still healthy, so we’ll have to see what happens out there and what opportunities show up in the next month.”

On taking a break, or getting right back into it:

“I think that it depends on the situation and the opportunity. The one thing that I’ve done on the last four or five jobs that I’ve had is that wherever I’ve gone, I’ve gone with the staff that was in place. Here the staff was in place. You spend a lot of time coaching coaches and teaching them your system and the things you want to do. So from an offensive standpoint, if I was in an offense somewhere and I had the opportunity to bring in my guys—the guys who know the types of things that we’re trying to do—that would be important to me.”

On seeming very relaxed and how he feels:

“The hardest part for me today was being with the players because I know what they’ve done. I’ve talked about it a lot. When Brandon Taylor had the knee injury last week I talked about it and I talked about it to him. I can stand here and look at the guys who have had (knee surgery). You talk about Philip (Rivers) having knee surgery on Monday night, having his knee scoped and then going and playing on Sunday against New England. Nick Hardwick had his foot reconstructed and we thought he was going to miss a season but came back and played in the playoffs. I know what these guys go through to play and I know a large number of guys who have had career-ending injuries over the last three or four years. So that part is hard, knowing what they’ve gone through and I think they’ve worked awfully hard for us. I tried to express and appreciate that. It’s not like today is a surprise. I think that six weeks ago you were all writing about it and saw it coming, so we’ve had our chance to get comfortable with it.”

On his emotional state when the players gave him a standing ovation during the final team meeting:

“There’s just a special feeling. I think that they know that’s what I’m about and what I try and promote. That’s why we get the most out of these guys. For the last three years, people have wanted me to say something negative about this team. For three years that I was here, I think that we were the most talented team in the division. The last three years I don’t think we’ve been that because we’ve had too many changes. We’ve lost too many people. What I would hope for the next coach because it will matter for these guys. Someone wrote a few weeks ago that this team was not far from being a playoff team. I would disagree. And I know that things that have to get done and that have to happen. So if this team comes out next year and they get some things done that help them get better and they are able to make the playoffs, I would hope that it would be a surprise to all of the Charger fans and that they would be excited about it. I would hope that it’s not the expectation starting in August because I think that you need to give the guy who comes in here, and the group he brings in, some time to get this thing back where it was two or three years ago.”

On what he has learned from this experience to carry forward:

“I think that the lesson is this is the NFL, and I know what it is. I’ve learned it and unfortunately I’ve done it the hard way. When we won the division in Washington in 1999, we won a playoff game and then we lost the next game on a last-second botched snap. The next year, the expectation was the Super Bowl. I was let go in the middle of the year because I wasn’t getting there. They (Washington) just won the division last night for the first time in over a decade and they thought they had Super Bowl talent in 2000. They finally got back to winning the division last night. Every team thinks that they have the best team and the lesson that I know—and I’ve known it for a long time—is that you have to evaluate your own players, keep your best players and understand who can and can’t. There aren’t any quick fixes. The free agency thing is not the way to go. It’s to supplement. You have to draft well and keep your best players.”

On his happiest moments with the Chargers organization:

Monday mornings when you win a game it is the best. When you come in here and you put a plan together and your guys do it. You give out game balls and your guys have a lot of fun with it. We went into Indianapolis—and I know there are a lot of people who would evaluate my ability to coach—and we went in there with a good football team playing a very good football team with Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy. We went in there and beat them. I thought that it was an evenly-matched game in terms of personnel, but I think we out-played them and we out-coached them. That was a great day for all Charger fans. When we came back here, the roads were completely packed with people. It was an exciting day. So those memories will stay with me. I talked yesterday about (Darren) Sproles running into the end-zone here against Indianapolis in overtime to win the game. It doesn’t get any more exciting than that. We went into Houston three years ago with all our receivers hurt, we had backups in all of our spots, but we had a good game and scored I think close to 40 points to beat them. One of the biggest wins we had was when we played Tennessee here and we were depleted. We had people out, lots of offensive players out, lots of defensive players out. Our entire receiving corps was out. After the game, Jeff Fisher said to me that he had never seen anyone do more with less. Those moments mean a lot to you because I think that in the profession, I think that coaches appreciate what we’ve done here.”

On ever getting frustrated watching some of his best players go to other teams:

“Well, it’s part of the business and it’s part of free agency and all of that. What you do is try and make it work. But there were certainly guys here who I would have loved to have kept. There are some guys that our quarterback would have loved to have kept. And it’s not just one thing. You add that to career-ending injuries that we had with (Shawne) Merriman, (Kris) Dielman, Marcus McNeill and those things add up to losing some other players.”

On speaking on the fact that Philip Rivers said that he’s never had a better relationship with a coach than he’s had with him:

“Philip is such a sharp guy and a hard worker. He’s such a great leader and a veteran player. That relationship I think is normal when you have a coach that’s involved in one area as I am, particularly with the offense. He’s awfully special and I feel bad for the way the season went for him. No one cares as much about it as he does and it means so much to him. He’ll bounce back and get the guys around him.  It will happen for him because he has a lot of good football ahead of him.”

On thinking that this is an amicable separation between two parties:

“I think that every situation is different. I have a lot of respect for Dean Spanos and I think he’s committed to doing the things you have to do to win. We went out and signed a lot of guys last year.  He spent a lot of money to try and get this thing done right. I know that he’s committed to putting the best football team on the field. I think that he’s appreciative of what we’ve been through the last three years with all of the different things. He’s been very understanding. I consider him a friend and I always will.”

On the worst part of being a head coach:

“People talk about that and think that this part of it (speaking to the media) is bad. It’s not bad. It is part of the profession and obviously this thing doesn’t happen. Football doesn’t happen if there aren’t fans, if there aren’t people buying tickets, coming to games. You guys promote it and cover it. It is all part of the process. It is all good. I have enjoyed all of it.”

On saying something to the Charger fans:

“I run into a lot of people and people have been outstanding. They’ve really been great and I know their level of frustration. I think that the message I want to give is that this group will get back. I think if you take an approach of being surprised by having success and not thinking that it’s going to happen right now, that is the best approach you can take.”

On his relationship with A.J. Smith over the last few years:

“A.J. and I are fine. We’ve worked together and we’ve worked hard to get this thing right. I think both of us look back and say there are things we could have done differently but I think when you’re winning the same thing happens. It has been really good and I’m appreciative of him for the opportunity.”

On Dean Spanos saying to him before the season began that if this team didn’t make the playoffs, changes would be made:

“I think that we all know that. There are things that don’t need to be said. I think that Dean has really been great. I think that he made a decision last year based on what he thought was best for the guys in this room. It didn’t work out and I understand that this is a business.”

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