The Box has taken the pledge to stop writing Chargers Suck columns, and I think a fair-minded person would have to say I’ve held up my end of the deal. That’s not easy when Norv Turner is the head coach. So, I should warn you I’m making an exception this week. For the greater good.
Sunday’s play-calling was quintessential Norv and says everything you need to know about why he’s been a failure as a head coach everywhere he’s been a head coach (Washington, Oakland, and San Diego). Who else, with the ball on their opponent’s five-yard line, ten seconds left in the half, behind eight points, two downs to work with, would call for a field goal? On third down?
Norv took charge of a 14-2 Chargers team on that bleak, vile day in February 2007, when the Spanos brain trust announced the hiring of yet another incompetent head coach. Turner has managed to turn that jewel of a team into the 8-8 slug we saw last year and through two games this year.
I was thinking about Norv while watching Monday Night Football, enjoying Peyton Manning as he put together another comeback, his 37th fourth-quarter comeback. Indy ran 35 plays in that game. Miami ran 84. Indy had possession for 14:53. Miami held the ball for 45:07. And yet Indy wins off a 48-yard Manning pass to Pierre Garcon with 3:18 to go (a win later sealed by Antoine Bethea’s end-zone interception). And you knew, going into that last drive, Manning would find a way to score.
Someone said that the only man who ever held Michael Jordan under 20 points was Dean Smith, Jordan’s college coach at North Carolina who insisted on playing traditional basketball. Yes, it’s ugly, but it’s only a small exaggeration to say that Norv Turner is the only coach who could keep Peyton Manning from coming back to win a game in the fourth quarter.
In other news, Roger Clemens is on Twitter, writing the same inane bullshit as everybody else: “hey cool stuff. My friends have a place there. I need to come and golf down there!!!” But what’s interesting is he’s only got 878 followers. You could do as well if you’d open an account and accept all the spam that comes your way.
Minnesota beat Detroit 27-13 and Brett Favre started his 271st game, a new NFL record. The nation will now turn its attention to other matters. But listen up, people, the Favre question is still on the table. To wit: Is he all monstrous ego, or is he all monstrous ego who can still play? Check back after Thanksgiving for the answer.
The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) lost another tournament. This one is the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill. Anheuser-Busch will not be renewing its sponsorship, which seems particularly ominous since Anheuser-Busch owns the Kingsmill Resort and Spa. At least they used to before they were bought by not-a-household-name InBev. The PGA Tour played there for 22 years, handing it off to the LPGA seven years ago. It was a big tournament on the ladies’ tour, a $2.2 million payday, voted by the players as their favorite event in 2007 and voted fan favorite by fans in 2008. The LPGA 2009 prize money ($50 million) is $10 million less than it was in 2008. There were 34 events in 2008, 27 in 2009, and so far, only 17 events are under contract for 2010.
Commissioner Carolyn Bivenso recently resigned after 15 of the tour’s best players (Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Morgan Pressel, Suzann Pettersen, Se Ri Pak, and Natalie Gulbis, among others) wrote a letter to the tour’s board of directors asking that Bivenso be gone. The LPGA is the oldest, continuously operated women’s professional sports organization in the country. Founded in 1950. They’ll make it. TV money will pay the bills, but I hate to see the tour fall so far, so fast.
Something is going on with the 49ers. Their defense reminds me of the Chicago Super Bowl 20 team: every player is after it on every play. The defense is very fast and very aggressive. Day and night difference from what has gone before. Remarkable. The Niners are 2-0 this season, have won 6 of their past 7 games, 7 of 11 since Mike Singletary took over as head coach.
Looking at the NFC West, the Niners have already beaten two division rivals — one was last year’s NFC champion, and they beat those guys at their house. Arizona won the division with a 9-7 record last year. San Francisco can win this conference.
And here’s a little something to take home with you: The Raiders have won three of their last four games.