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L.T.: Norv Turner, A.J. Smith gone if Bolts miss playoffs

LaDainian Tomlinson possesses firsthand knowledge of how coach Norv Turner operates the San Diego Chargers.

The retired running back played under Turner for three seasons and spent much of his career in San Diego under the reign of general manager A.J. Smith.

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Tomlinson told "The Dan Patrick Show" on Wednesday that both men should be fired if the Chargers fail to make the playoffs. He reiterated that point on NFL Network's "Around the League."

"We heard the rumblings out of San Diego last year when they had the poor season, didn't make the playoffs for the second straight year," said Tomlinson, now an NFL Network analyst. "... Dean Spanos really thought about making a change at that point, but he didn't. He said he would give them one more chance to try to re-right the ship, and so here we are, at the point where the San Diego Chargers are in danger of missing the playoffs for the third straight year.

"And at that point, the way this organization has worked, you fire Marty (Schottenheimer) after a 14-2 year, and many successful years in San Diego. You fire a coach like Marty Schottenheimer, and how can you justify keeping A.J. Smith and Norv Turner when you don't go to the playoffs three straight years?"

Tomlinson later added that Smith "has justified some of his disappointing seasons by having some pretty good draft picks," but Rivers doesn't have enough weapons around him to succeed after losing running back Darren Sproles and wide receiver Vincent Jackson, among others.

"He has lost a lot of talent around him, and I believe I said it last year, that there's too much pressure on Philip Rivers," Tomlinson said. "He needs guys around him to help him win games."

Tomlinson is stating the obvious. He has watched the Chargers tumble from their 3-1 start to lose three in a row in maddening fashion. That slide includes an epic collapse against the Denver Broncos on national TV and Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Tomlinson's relationship with Smith was tempestuous, especially near the end of the running back's storied run with the Chargers. Smith's methods always have been unique. He's one of the game's more controversial GMs, which works only when you're winning.

Tomlinson won't shed tears over a regime change in San Diego, but he's not breaking news. Barring a minor miracle, sweeping change is ahead.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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