Win a final one for Norv?
That’s about all the San Diego Chargers have to play for when they finish the season today at home against the rival Raiders.
Coach Norv Turner is expected to get fired, along with general manager A.J. Smith, perhaps as soon as Monday, because the Chargers (6-9) will miss the playoffs for the third straight season.
If team president Dean Spanos needed yet another reminder of how far the roster has eroded under the smug, authoritarian Smith, he got one Wednesday when the Chargers were shut out in the Pro Bowl voting for the first time since 2003, when they were an NFL-worst 4-12.
A string of three straight local TV blackouts will end today, but only because fans of the Raiders (4-11) always flock to see their beloved Silver and Black’s only Southern California appearance of the season.
It’ll give Chargers fans one final chance to boo Turner, who was an unpopular hire in February 2007. Turner was seen by many as a puppet who could be controlled by Smith after the GM won a power struggle with former coach Marty Schottenheimer.
For the players, it’ll be a chance to win their 59th game under Turner, playoffs included. Problem is, their last playoff win was after the 2008 season.
“I think it’s speaking a little bit out of turn to concede it,” quarterback Philip Rivers said when asked about playing a final game under Turner. “I’m not trying to be naive, either, what may or may not happen. If it is the last one, it’s a heck of a run.”
As for the Raiders, they haven’t had a winning season since the 2002 season, when they went on to lose the Super Bowl to Jon Gruden’s Tampa Bay Bucs.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen said it’s possible both Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor could play after starting quarterback Carson Palmer went out with cracked ribs and bruised lung after being hit from behind by Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy.
Palmer had started 24 consecutive games for Oakland after being acquired in a midseason trade with Cincinnati in 2011. Leinart has started just two games since 2007 while Pryor has never started in his two NFL seasons.