Turner makes living on the hot seat


Turner makes living on the hot seat

ALAMEDA -- Norv Turner knows what the hot seat feels like.

The sixth-year San Diego coach practically lives on it. And many see this Sunday's season finale against the Raiders as his final game with the Chargers. Sound familiar?

"I don't want to minimize the feeling," Turner said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters Wednesday. "I don't believe it's easy (to endure), but it's part of this business and the one thing about it in this league now is it's more and more a part of every team.

"People talk about it…being from year to year, (but) in a lot of situations it ends up being month to month or week to week. So it is definitely a big part of this profession now."

Still, even if 31 other organizations and just about every NFL observer in the country believes Turner is about to coach his last game in San Diego, the Chargers are preparing as if Turner will return.

"That’s what I love about coach Norv, that’s what I love about the coaching staff in general," said Chargers tight end Antonio Gates. "Like I said, man, this is the last game of the season, our season is over with, no postseason for San Diego. And yet we’re preparing as if this is the first game of the season, as if we have a playoff game coming up, and it doesn’t change.

"There’s no shortage of preparation, there’s no shortage of time spent in the meetings. There’s no shortage of practicing and practicing the right way."

As an offensive coordinator, Turner has been seen as a genius, of sorts. Especially in Dallas with the triplets of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. But as a head coach, in Washington, with the Raiders and Chargers? Not so much.

He has a career head coaching record of 113-122-1. In Oakland, he was 5-11 and 4-12 in 2004 and 2005, respectfully. And in San Diego, the Chargers' win totals have gone down since 2009 from 13 to 9 to 8 to 6 thus far this season.

Obviously, with his two-year tenure in Oakland. Turner has a unique perspective on the Raiders. Even if it is undergoing regime change. And yes, Turner is a fan of rookie coach Dennis Allen, who just turned 40 this season. Turner was 42 when he was a rookie head coach in Washington in 1994.

"I know that when you have a new general manager and a new head coach, and all the changes that the Raiders have had, you are in transition," Turner said. "I’m really impressed with Dennis and the way he has approached it, what he has done. He’s really a good defensive mind and he’s going to be an outstanding head coach."

Sound familiar?

Raiders DC Paul Guenther talks Khalil Mack, Gareon Conley and more


Raiders DC Paul Guenther talks Khalil Mack, Gareon Conley and more

Paul Guenther hasn’t been Raiders defensive coordinator long. He has been in Alameda about a week now, interviewing potential position coaches and pouring over last year’s game tape.

He has some initial impressions on the group that struggled at the start and improved throughout the year. Generally speaking, however, Guenther sees talent on the roster.

“I believe there’s a lot of good players here, a lot of good, young players,” Guenther said Wednesday in a conference call. “You’ve got to get them out and develop them and get them to understand your system. But I think there are a lot of good pieces here for a foundation, for sure.”

Guenther’s system, where it came from and why he brought it to Oakland is a story for another day. Thursday morning, to be precise, so stay tuned for that.

Guenther’s early evaluation of key Raiders, however, supports his statement about a strong foundation. He is most excited, as you’d expect, about working with edge rusher Khalil Mack and several others in silver and black.

Here’s what Guenther said about…

-- DE KHALIL MACK: “Having a talent like that and ability of a guy like that, certainly you want to make it the centerpiece of the defense. We have to continue to develop our younger players to bring those guys up to speed and add people as we go through the draft and free agency. He’s a guy that you can really build a foundation through and around. He’s an exciting guy to be able to coach for sure.”

-- CB GAREON CONLEY: “He was my favorite corner coming out. His ability, he’s smooth in the pedal, he’s a good press corner, which we love to have. I’m excited to work with him.”

-- S OBI MELIFONWU: “Obi is a big guy that when you turn on the tape, you’re like, ‘Man, who is this son of a gun?’ He’s playing half the field, he’s down in the box playing the run.”

-- LB NAVORRO BOWMAN: (an impending free agent): “NaVorro is a prototype middle linebacker, really. The thing that impressed me most with NaVorro is that they got him here midseason and by the end of the year, it appeared to me that he was kind of the leader of the unit, making a lot of calls. You can see that on tape. It looks like he is a smart guy that understands the game. I love smart guys that love playing football. Hopefully we can get him back in the fold and keep him a Raider.”

Raiders OC believes Raiders will 'grow as Derek Carr grows'


Raiders OC believes Raiders will 'grow as Derek Carr grows'

Quarterback Derek Carr’s stage is set for a giant step forward.

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson thinks it happened the moment Jon Gruden became Raiders head coach, though not solely due to the mentor and his proven offensive system. It’s also the 10-year contract formally bringing him back. There’s no telling whether Gruden mans his post a full decade, but an extended stretch is guaranteed.

That in itself, Olson, says, is invaluable to a passer entering his fifth season with a fourth head coach and third offensive scheme.

“Probably more so than anything,” Olson said, “this guy has to get some continuity.”

Gruden will provide that, with Olson a link to Carr’s past. Olson was Raiders offensive coordinator from 2013-14, and guided Carr’s rookie campaign. Quarterback and coordinator worked well together a 3-13 season where the Fresno State alum started every game.

They’ll reunite under Gruden and stick together this time. Olson, after all, signed a four-year deal that’s double the industry standard.

“Derek is going to be in a system now,” Olson said Wednesday in a conference call with local media. “He’s going to be coached by a head coach that’s going to be the play caller. That’s the first time Derek will have an offensive head coach that has a quarterback background and will be hands on with him on a day-to-day basis. I just see that growth curve skyrocketing because of that.”

Carr’s trajectory went straight up from his rookie season with Olson through the next two years – he was a legit MVP candidate in 2016 -- though it markedly dipped during a disappointing 6-10 campaign.

Gruden and Olson are generally charged with fixing an offense with talent but little production last year, though their primary objective remains more specific.

Get Carr back on track.

“Everything we do in this building is going to be about the development of Derek Carr,” Olson said. “The way we script practices, the way we are doing drills, everything that we do is all about the development of the quarterback. That will really speed the development of Derek. More so than anything is that there’s somebody here in place that’s going to make everything that we do and that everyone in the building understand that we grow as Derek Carr grows.”

Olson knows first-hand about Carr’s work ethic and acumen. He has seen athleticism, passing accuracy and a quick release turn football smarts into production. He told Gruden all that following the 2014 season, and believes Carr’s presence was an attraction to take the Raiders job.

“We drafted this guy to be that franchise quarterback," Olson said. "We feel like he has the potential to be that guy that can be here and play for 10 more years. It’s up to us to try and get that out of him. We’ll do everything in our power to make sure that that happens."