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DENVER - OCTOBER 6: Special teams coach Steve Crosby of the San Diego Chargers stands on the sideline during the NFL game against the Denver Broncos on October 6, 2002 at Invesco Field in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Chargers 26-9. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
A ringing contradiction.
Listen closely. It explains why Crosby, with all his unit's historic mistakes, makes a better martyr than a scapegoat for the Chargers missing the playoffs at 9-7.
Here's a hint: He has already been exonerated.
On Oct. 10, the Chargers had two punts blocked, one for a touchdown and the other a safety, in a 35-27 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Is Crosby's job in jeopardy?
“Don't be silly,” coach Norv Turner told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “We’re going to get the right guys on the punt team that are going to do the right job. We’ve got an outstanding coaching staff, and I have nothing but the highest regard for what Steve Crosby does.... There is nobody that works harder at what he does. When our guys do what he tells them to do, we play pretty good.”
On Nov. 7, a punt deflection led to a touchdown in a 29-23 win over the Texans and was essentially the fifth blocked punt of the season.
Time to cut Crosby?
“There’s about five guys I’d let go before him, and that’d be the five guys that have had mental errors and given up blocked punts,” Turner said. “He’s not out there doing it. He gets them ready to play. When I can put a tape on Friday of a guy doing it right and not doing it right on Sunday, that’s not Steve Crosby.”
Yet now, Crosby is gone.
As the ninth-year special teams coach, he was the familiar face to a foreign problem, a shaking head on the sidelines mumbling profanities in disbelief that camera crews loved cutting to after every collapse occurred.
But the face of the problem is not always the root.
Crosby is gone because anyone in charge of the worst special teams unit in NFL history has to go. He is guilty by association, even after being ruled innoncent by a repeatedly vehement Turner, who has final call on such staff decisions.
Crosby could have used offseason departures Kassim Osgood and Tim Dobbins. He could have used Donald Butler, the rookie linebacker lost in training camp to a torn Achilles'. He could have used better and healthier replacements.
Maybe then he'd have had better results.
Four punt blocks: most in the league. Three kickoffs returned for a touchdown: most in the league. An average of 18.9 yards per punt return: most in the league. A punt deflection. An onside kick recovered in the final seconds of Sunday's final game -- minutes after the third kickoff return.
He is the person not blamed but not retained.
A ringing contradiction.
“We appreciate Steve's hard work and dedication to this team over the past nine seasons,” Turner said in the press release.