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Norv Turner on Snyder and the Redskins

"I think we all know at some point, you're going to move on," Norv Turner said on the day he was fired from the Redskins. "It's time for me to move on."

In advance of this weekend's Chargers-Redskins game, Turner did a conference call with the D.C. media on Wednesday. Many of the questions were about his time with the Redskins. Turner took them all, including one final one I asked apologetically, about whether there's a good way for an NFL coach to be fired.

"That's not rude," Turner said. "You know, the thing I learned as an assistant, seeing some really good coaches get fired, that the stigma isn't what it [appears] on the outside as it is in the profession. You know, I worked for John Robinson and we were in the same division with the San Francisco 49ers. We won the division a couple of times, went to the championship game a couple times. I think he went to the playoffs seven out of nine years, and he got fired. He's as good a coach as you're ever gonna be around. So when you see something like that happen, sometimes it's gonna happen. It's not gonna end good in a number of these situations. And again, this is rehashing something, we won the division in '99, and we were 7-6 [in 2000], and that team had been hurt. We had a lot of people not playing. And it's a decision that was made, and certainly I walked away from it, but I didn't have any regrets about that. And I certainly never felt like I hadn't done what I was there to do."

According to The Post story from that time, Turner waited nearly two hours on the Sunday after his final loss for a meeting with Daniel Snyder. The meeting never happened. He went home, reported to work the next day, and was summoned into Snyder's office around 11 a.m., where Fred Drasner and Snyder gave him the word.

"With the schedule the way it is, the team can still be 10-6," Turner said then. "There's part of me that would like to be a part of it, and there's part of me that understands why it's important and it's necessary to make a change right now. But I do believe that can be accomplished."

"This was something out of need," Snyder said that day. "There are three games to go. We are in the playoff hunt. We felt it was in the best interest of the organization."

Turner was 49-59-1, and 28-39 in games decided by fewer than 10 points. That's not good.

But he was also 23-15 in his final 38 games. Since Turner was fired, the Redskins are 21 games under .500. The Chargers under Turner, meantime, are making their third straight playoff appearance, with a regular-season mark of 31-16. Turner said the Redskins' plight doesn't bring him any satisfaction, which is exactly what you'd expect him to say. Hard to believe.

"Not at all," he insisted. "Because every situation is so, so different. When you have the kind of change we had, and the expectation level is so great, people want to do things to make it right. And it doesn't mean they did the right thing or did the wrong thing. But obviously there's a lot of people that are very passionate in every city that has an NFL franchise, and there's a real passion to win. And I think someone has to do what they can do to try to help that process."

I asked what it was like working under Snyder; "Uh, it was, uh, you know, we..." he began. "It's hard, because it wouldn't be fair for me to talk about it in terms of the pluses and minuses and all that. You know, any time you get in a situation and it's brand new, football's a business that's different from probably any other business. And there were some times where it was frustrating and some times that obviously were great."

I also asked him what he remembered from his time in D.C., where he became the third longest-serving NFL head coach before his firing.

"I loved my time in Washington," he said. "The people there were unbelievably great to me. We had a lot more success than people remember, and there's a lot of players that were very successful during that time that I was very proud of: Terry Allen, and Stephen Davis, and Brad Johnson. Ken Harvey....And I think the thing for me, the experience of going through the turmoil of the ownership change, we had a lot of changes during that stretch, [which] helped me over the long haul. And then having the success at the end, and Brad Johnson playing the way he did and being a playoff quarterback and a Pro Bowl player, and winning the division there in '99, those are the things I tend to remember."

Unless giant wedges of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Emmentaler began raining down from the Southern California sky, Turner and Jim Zorn will shake hands sometime Sunday evening, and then a few hours or a few days later, Zorn will be fired. He will forever join Turner on those graphics of the many Coaches of Snyder, and he will one day be asking answering questions like these. I asked Turner what it's like going through a season where your job security is questioned every week.

"That's a tough part of it, and I obviously have been in a couple situations [like that]," Turner said. "Sometimes it's hard because you don't feel it's warranted, but it is part of the deal....You have four-team divisions, and you have [8] divisions with four teams in it, obviously you're gonna have more last-place teams, you know what I'm saying? And it ends up being there's a lot of towns, there's a lot of cities where someone's talking about job security."

By Dan Steinberg  |  December 30, 2009; 4:30 PM ET
Categories:  NFL , Redskins  
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Norval's a good man and obviously in a better situation away from that dork, $nyder. Soon, Zorn will be in a better situation also.

Posted by: peauxsucent | December 30, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm happy to see Turner have success with the Chargers. I just hope they don't hang 50+ points on the Skins this weekend.

Alas, there is life after Snyder and the Redskins.

Posted by: rooster75 | December 30, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I of course am not happy with the current leadership of the Washington Redskins. But amidst our Snyder-hating, let us not forget that Norv is indeed a subpar coach who wastes talent wherever he goes. He was a cloud over my childhood, and I still remember smiling at the news of his departure, because this is a coach who couldn't get past other good teams even if say, someone gave him an extra year's worth of draft picks to play with.

Posted by: JohnnyBlades | December 30, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Norv after the Chargers' upcoming inexplicable playoff loss, as after every inexplicable loss during his not-storied head coaching career: "We just needed someone to make a play..."

Posted by: NateinthePDX | December 30, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

I would take 10-13 win seasons and 1st and 2nd round playoff losses over 4-12, 5-11, 6-10, "rotisserie league coaching carousels" and seeing our QBs perpetually pounded into the turf neary every game, any day of the week. :)

Posted by: blackjack65 | December 30, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Watching Norv Turner's Chargers? Fun.

Watching Snyder's Redskins? Embarrassing.

'Nuff said.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | December 30, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

"He will forever join Turner on those graphics of the many Coaches of Snyder, and he will one day be asking questions like these."

I assume you meant "answering questions" not asking them. Unless you think Zorn will get a media gig next?

Posted by: Burgundy | December 30, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

i hope norv hangs 60 on the skins

it will be the 2nd time hes been able to beat dan snyder

the first being with the sorry raiders

Posted by: rhbancroft | December 31, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Norv Turner took a monumental amount of grief for being the chosen successor to headline the first post-Gibbs rebuilding project in 1994. For a while it seemed to be working, (steady improvement until 1996), then the combination of poor loses, a mediocre gm, ownership in flux, a qb who suffered a self-inflicted broken neck, a diva wr, and another future franchise qb who was let walk because we couldn't afford to pay him. Regardless, Norv remains the only coach to host a playoff game in 18 years. Who would have known at the time that a FG loss to Tampa would remain a high point of the Redskins 2000 history?

He may never be a great leader, and his mediocre record with the Redskins speaks for himself. I for one was not shedding any tears when the boy king fired him mid-season of 2000. But with 10 years of hindsight, Norv has at least earned my respect. He seems like a genuine class act who preservered through tumultuous seasons in DC and survived terrible ownership groups like Dan and Al Davis to get where he is today. I wish him nothing but the best in the future.

Posted by: jbanks979 | December 31, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Norv is far better off away from here. It was his first HC job and whether he would have grown into it here or whether he had to go a few other "elsewheres" is up for debate. But the fact of the matter is that The Danny showed no class at all in the way he treated Norv (what a surprise!) and I hope Norv runs up the score on Danny's Ruined Team.

Nate -- Norv the subpar coach is in the playoffs.

If there was only some way to let $nyder maker a disgusting profit on selling the team. Money is all he really cares about anyway.

Posted by: bethesdaguy | December 31, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I'm going out on a limb here.......

but I think having Philip Rivers as oppossed to Heath Shuler is helping.

Posted by: peterandmeredith | December 31, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I'm going out on a limb here.......

but I think having Philip Rivers as oppossed to Heath Shuler is helping.

Posted by: peterandmeredith

I'm pretty sure being able to play Philip Rivers without worrying about an owner forcing you to play Jeff George also helps as well

Posted by: jbanks979 | December 31, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

bethesdaguy, the joke I was attempting to make up there was based on my awareness that Norv's team is advancing to the playoffs.

The joke was about how, you know, the teams for which he has been head coach have not tended to be particularly successful after reaching the playoffs.

And the other part of the joke was about the tiresome, mumble-mouthed excuse-making which was so common after his many, many inexplicable losses with the Redskins. "We just needed someone to make a play" was a recurring theme of his postgame assessments.

Funny stuff, I know, and that's why I get the big bucks.

Posted by: NateinthePDX | December 31, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

"But amidst our Snyder-hating, let us not forget that Norv is indeed a subpar coach who wastes talent wherever he goes"
Up until this year I agreed with this. But now...I dunno. It's been a decade. I know a lot more about my strengths and weaknesses than I did ten years ago, maybe Norv does too. Maybe he's learned more about what he can't do, and is better at letting other people fill that gap.

Mainly I don't think Norv motivates guys. He's good-to-great at offensive game planning, but he's not going to fire anybody up. But maybe the Chargers have other guys to take care of that.

Posted by: hubcap | December 31, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Nate: Got it. I'm kind of simple-minded and don't always get it first time around. I think the thing that got me about Norv when he was here was how he always said "We've got to find a way . . " to win, score, play defense, whatever.

Posted by: bethesdaguy | December 31, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

No sweat, bethesdaguy. That's in the same category of Norvism: "we've got to find a way... someone needs to make a play..."

That kind of helpless shrugging... you're the friggin' head coach and you're basically admitting that you either can't identify what the team needs to do to win games or you can't get the team to do those things... pathetic...

Posted by: NateinthePDX | December 31, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: rclow | December 31, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

The one that always got me was "we competed out there today." Like he didn't understand that the point is to compete SUCCESSFULLY.

Posted by: zimbar | December 31, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

yup, Bolts are my second favorite team after The Dannys, b/c I live in SoCal and b/c of Norv (and they are a fun team to watch).

I bet they'll throw 45 on Danny's great team, which will manage 13 points.

Posted by: greatteamdan | January 1, 2010 2:48 AM | Report abuse

Norv back then wasn't the coach that he is now. But he was miles ahead of the coach that Jim Zorn is. You can't get much worse than Zorn. If you're a worse coach than Zorn then your name is Steve Spurrier.

Posted by: whatyoutalkinboutman | January 1, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Pineapple Face's teams had been notorious for underachieving and laying turds in the playoffs, but Norv basically owns the AFC West and the Colts, who could very well be the only thing stopping the Bolts from reaching the Super Bowl. I hated the move by the Bolts of hiring Norv, but he's done a great job. Hard to believe a pathetic loser like Norv Turner could turn into one of the best coaches in the NFL.

Posted by: MACCHAMPS04 | January 2, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

It's the OL stupid! It's not the coaching staff.

Give Zorn an OL and see what happens - the offense will score lots of points - the defense won't tire out in the second half, and the Redskins will be super bowl contenders.

Go Skins!

Posted by: SkinsFan2111 | January 2, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

dont forget, charley casserly was in san diego as well as norv

Posted by: mdpeterso | January 3, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Norv Turner is truly a class act.

Posted by: JCM-51 | January 3, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

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