- Associated Press - Monday, October 11, 2010

SAN DIEGO (AP) - At least Norv Turner and the San Diego Chargers are consistent.

Despite having the NFL’s top-ranked offense and second-ranked defense, the Chargers are 2-3 under Turner for the fourth straight season. Their latest pratfall was a 35-27 loss at Oakland on Sunday, ending the Chargers‘ 13-game winning streak against their bitter rival.

Ongoing special teams blunders and turnovers are tarnishing a sensational start by quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates, leaving the players to get mad at themselves and Turner to deflect the blame away from his staff.

After giving up two kickoff returns and a punt return for touchdowns in their first three games, the Chargers had two punts blocked by the Raiders, helping Oakland to a quick 12-0 lead. One bounced through the end zone for a safety and the other was returned for a touchdown by Hiram Eugene.

Turner bristled Sunday when asked if special teams coach Steve Crosby was in danger of losing his job. “Don’t be silly,” the coach snapped.

Turner changed his choice of words on Monday, but still defended Crosby.

Asked why it would be silly for a reporter to ask about Crosby, Turner said: “Maybe I misspoke when I said ‘silly.’ When you’re talking about Steve Crosby, I would say it’s inappropriate.”

Why inappropriate? “Because I have great respect for what he’s done and what he does. Steve Crosby’s our special teams coach and will be,” said Turner, whose overall record in three NFL head coaching stints fell to 92-101.

Crosby is in his ninth season as San Diego’s special teams coach.

Turner, who fired defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell midway through the 2008 season, continued to insist that the special teams struggles are due to a change in personnel, and that the problem can be fixed. He discounts the notion that maybe the Chargers got rid of too many veterans in the offseason.

Linebacker Stephen Cooper, who said the Chargers should be 5-0, defended Crosby.

“He keeps coaching the same way he has in the past but players aren’t getting the job done on the field,” Cooper said. “I talked to him on the plane. I told him, ‘I’m ready to go on punt, kickoff, whatever you need, even if I have to take a play or two off on defense.”

Turner appears safe. The playoff face-plant against the New York Jets in January _ San Diego’s third loss in its past four postseason games _ wasn’t held against Turner. The day after the embarrassing 17-14 loss, Turner received a three-year contract extension through 2013.

General manager A.J. Smith has often called Turner “the right coach at the right time.” Turner was Smith’s choice to replace Marty Schottenheimer, who was fired by Chargers President Dean Spanos following the 2006 season due to an icy relationship with the general manager.

Turner pointed out that the Chargers fixed their problems with kickoff coverage. Now they have new problems to fix.

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