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Spanos May Soon Set Fire to Chargers

Turner, Manusky likely coaching final game for team

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Dean Spanos, president of the San Diego Chargers, looks on from a sideline at INVESCO Field at Mile High on January 2, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. He will soon announce the job statuses of coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith.

    The 11th hour and 59th minute have arrived.

    On Saturday morning, with a walkthrough, the San Diego Chargers wrapped up their final in-town preparation for Sunday's season finale against the Oakland Raiders, lowering the crystal countdown ball on what will certainly be a busy offseason.

    It starts with fireworks, and Dean Spanos will star as the show's lead pyrotechnician.

    Matches in hand, the Chargers president is expected in the coming days to announce the fate of the franchise's frontmen. Does he fire coach Norv Turner? Does he fire general manager A.J. Smith? Or, in the air of the New Year's night, does he blow it all up after a two-year playoff absence?

    Spanos May Soon Set Fire to Chargers

    [DGO] Spanos May Soon Set Fire to Chargers
    While most would agree the Chargers fell far short of expectations again this season, when it comes to blame, the fingers are pointing in several directions.

    The announcements are expected by the middle of next week after the season's dust settles, but ultimately, the timeline rides on the inclinations of Spanos and Spanos alone.

    As change goes, it will all but certainly come at defensive coordinator, where team and league sources say Greg Manusky has failed to consistently prove the capacity to handle his position.

    One team source pointed to the unit's lack of third-down success as Manusky's nail-in-the-coffin failure, where the Chargers allow a 48.4-percent conversation rate, worst in the NFL. The unit ranked fourth among the 32 teams last year, ceding conversions at a 33.7-percent frequency under Ron Rivera.

    In January, Manusky agreed to a two-year deal to replace Rivera, who left to become the Carolina Panthers' head coach. Manusky wouldn't answer Friday whether he expected to be back next year.

    "All is know is I'm going to coach my ass off for this game," Manusky said, "and keep on rolling."

    Turner has been hardly oblivious over the past several weeks concerning his unstable future in San Diego, poking fun when reporters tip-toe around the subject.

    On Thursday, at the start of a press-conference question, one writer gently mentioned his status for next year as uncertain. Turner cut him off.

    "Really?" the fifth-year Chargers head coach said sarcastically with a smile.

    Turner's fate, contrary to the expressed hopes of the locker room, was likely sealed last weekend with the team's second blowout Week 16 loss in as many years that eliminated it from postseason contention.

    In regard to Smith, team sources say Spanos is being careful and diligent when weighing the ramifications that'd come with blowing up the franchise entirely; with a Sunday win, the Chargers will have finished .500 or better for a team-record eighth consecutive season.

    But with annual Super Bowl expectations, to avoid a losing season is, in and of itself, not a victory. Given the playoff drought and building fan frustration, something in the Chargers operation is not working.

    Does it need a recharge — perhaps a change at head coach — or is the entire system broken, requiring someone in place of Smith to fix it?

    Expect fireworks in Mission Valley.

    The countdown is on.