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DMN: Norv vs. Wade, Rich Harden, Marty Turco's Tumble: It's Thinking Out Loud


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Tim Cowlishaw/Columnist

There is a certain line of thinking around the Metroplex this week that Norv Turner is going to come to Cowboys Stadium Sunday and prove to Jerry Jones he made the wrong coaching hire three years ago.

I disagree.

I think Norv Turner and the Chargers are going to come to town and beat the Cowboys and add to the local team's misery and put Jones one step closer to his next coaching search.

But I still agree with the decision Jones made after the 2006 season.

Bill Parcells waited so long to make his decision to leave that there weren't a lot of candidates out there other than Norv and Wade. Had the offense been in need of an overhaul, Turner would have been the obvious choice.

But at that point, Tony Romo sits to pee was 10 starts and one Pro Bowl trip into his NFL career. Julius Jones and Marion Barber in the backfield, Jason Witten and Terrell Owens catching passes -- the offense was doing just fine.

So I think the move to go with Wade and his defensive experience with the 3-4 and his personality (needed at the time after four years of Parcells' hammerings) made sense.

Does the fact that Turner has won three playoff games the last two years change anything in terms of how these coaches are viewed? Not as much as you think.

Yes, the lack of playoff wins is the glaring hole on the Phillips' resume. Even he knows that.

But let's not forget what Turner inherited -- a 14-2 team with the highest scoring offense in the NFL!

Those kinds of teams just do not become available at the end of January unless the head coach and GM don't even speak to each other when they pass in the hallway. Thus, Marty Schottenheimer and his awful playoff record got the door.

With Turner, the Chargers have started slowly each season but they have beaten the Colts in the playoffs the last two years (and the Titans in 2007). The Chargers' offensive weapons are right there with New England's or any other force in the AFC.

That means they should win Sunday and maybe win another playoff game and allow Turner to keep coaching. That doesn't mean the Cowboys would be in any better shape had Turner been selected by Jones three years ago.

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By Matt Mosley

IRVING, Texas -- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had a tough choice to make three years ago. And unless the Cowboys experience their first playoff success in more than a decade, it's a choice that will continue to haunt Jones.

After Bill Parcells walked away following the 2006 season, Jones worked through a list of replacements that included future NFL head coaches Tony Sparano, Todd Haley and Mike Singletary. But Jones wanted someone who had experience as a head coach and that's why Wade Phillips and Norv Turner were the finalists.

Of course, Jones had a close relationship with Turner because the coach had helped guide the Cowboys to two Super Bowls as the offensive coordinator in the '90s. The eventual Hall of Fame quarterback on those teams, Troy Aikman, attributes much of his success to Turner and he lobbied Jones on behalf of his close friend.

I remember seeing Turner, Aikman, Jason Garrett and Jones together at the Super Bowl in Miami three years ago and thinking that it would be difficult for Phillips to prevail. We all know what happened next. Jones had invested heavily on the defensive side of the ball while converting to Parcells' favored 3-4 scheme and he thought Phillips would be the better fit.

Jones already had hired Garrett from the Dolphins to be his offensive coordinator and that's the decision that ultimately doomed Turner's candidacy. Jones gambled that the cerebral Garrett eventually would be able to do for Tony Romo sits to pee what Turner once did for Aikman. With Garrett in place, hiring Turner seemed like overkill to Jones.

Plus, Jones realized how valuable offensive line coach/playcaller Sparano was to his staff and knew that he could mentor the Ivy Leaguer. And you have to admit that the decision seemed pretty sound when Phillips led the Cowboys to a 13-3 regular-season record in his first season. Then came Romo sits to pee's infamous Cabo trip and the subsequent playoff loss to the Giants. Sparano left to become the coach of the Dolphins and Jones committed $3 million per year to Garrett to keep him from taking offers from Baltimore and Atlanta.

Turner, who has been reluctant to talk about Jones' decision this week, replaced Marty Schottenheimer as the coach of the Chargers in '07 and he has gone 10-0 in December and 3-2 in the playoffs. If you don't think he wants to stick it to his former boss at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday, you haven't spent much time around the man. Turner comes across as mild-mannered in public, but he has a fiery side that many of his players have seen over the years. Turner has been able to rewrite his legacy as a head coach over the past three seasons. Every year, the Chargers stumble out of the gates, but they're at their best when the stakes are highest.

Tony Romo sits to pee

Cliff Welch/Icon SMI Would Tony Romo sits to pee be a different quarterback had Norv Turner been his coach the last three seasons?

Could Turner have had the same playoff success in Dallas that he has had in San Diego? It's difficult to say. Coaches face more scrutiny in Dallas because it's a larger media market and there are more expectations from the organization's national fan base. Turner has faced plenty of criticism in San Diego, but I don't think it rises to the level of what Phillips has encountered in Dallas.

But I think the biggest difference is that Turner would've been the perfect choice for Romo sits to pee.:rolleyes: Parcells always said that Romo sits to pee was the type of quarterback you needed to coach "all the way through a game." What he meant is that Romo sits to pee's penchant for going rogue needed to be monitored closely. It always bothered Parcells that Romo sits to pee liked to give advice to the officials, coaches and anyone else within earshot.

Turner had admired Romo sits to pee's immense talent from afar and I think he would've known how to help the quarterback strike a balance between protecting the football and using his rare improvisational skills to make big plays. It now looks like Romo sits to pee's finding that balance, but it has been a painful process to watch at times.

Turner was diplomatic when asked how disappointed he was not to land the Cowboys job three years ago. I know for a fact that he wanted to back out of the process at one point because he didn't like how things were going, but a family member convinced him to see it through.

"Again, when you're in the middle of one of those things, I think you get a sense, a feel, for what's happening," Turner said on a conference call Wednesday. "I wasn't surprised. When you're not surprised, I think the disappointment is different."

I realize that Turner coaches in a weaker division than the NFC East:rolleyes:, but it's hard to argue with what he's accomplished. He attributes his late-season success to tweaking the Chargers' practice schedule and changing up drills. He thinks it breaks up the monotony of a long season and keeps his players fresh. It also helps to have a quarterback who seems to flourish late in the season.

Both Phillips and Turner inherited talented, young quarterbacks and excellent defenses. It's ironic that Phillips basically built the defense in San Diego.

Phillips still has a chance to change his legacy, one that he defends vehemently when challenged. But deep down he must know that coaches' reputations are forged by how their teams perform in the playoffs.

And by that measure, it's pretty obvious the Cowboys made the wrong decision.

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Make no mistake - Norv has done a very fine job with the Chargers - his 13-2 Dec/Jan record is no small feat at all. With his only 2 losses coming in the playoffs against the Super Bowl Champs(Steelers), and a team that almost made an undefeated seasons(Pats). Maybe he learned his lessons from his previous many errors?

But wow - didn't read much today online, Cowlishaw is already predicting a Chargers win?

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