- The Washington Times - Friday, February 23, 2007

You know how Hollywood types like to show off their knowledge of movies by taking no more than six steps to link anyone in the entertainment industry to Kevin Bacon? You can now employ the same kind of small world connections to the NFL’s only team in Southern California.

Let’s start in 1994 when Dallas offensive coordinator Norv Turner was named Washington’s coach by former Southern Californian Jack Kent Cooke. Turner promptly hired young Cam Cameron as his quarterbacks coach.

When Cameron left three years later to become head coach at the University of Indiana, Turner replaced him with Mike Martz, like Turner a former assistant with the Los Angeles Rams.

Coming off an NFC East title-winning season in 1999, the Redskins were favored to win the Super Bowl in 2000. So when they lost back-to-back home games to division rivals Philadelphia and the New York Giants to fall to 7-6, second-year owner Dan Snyder fired the coach. After interim coach Terry Robiskie couldn’t rally the Redskins, Snyder canned him, too, and hired proven winner Marty Schottenheimer for 2001.

Turner went to San Diego as offensive coordinator that year, but when coach Mike Riley was fired after the season, Turner took the same job in Miami.

Riley’s replacement in San Diego was none other than Schottenheimer, whose controlling ways had clashed badly with those of Snyder in Washington. Schottenheimer hired Cameron, let go by Indiana, to be his offensive coordinator.

Fast forward to last month. The Chargers, a league-best 14-2 during the season, folded and lost their playoff opener to New England as Schottenheimer, fifth in career victories, came up short of the Super Bowl as always.

Cameron was hired as head coach in Miami (which had considered Schottenheimer’s son, Brian, the New York Jets’ offensive coordinator) and added former Redskins colleague Robiskie (who had been fired as Cleveland’s offensive coordinator) to coach the receivers.

Turner, who had been running San Francisco’s offense for Mike Nolan, his defensive coordinator in Washington from 1997 to 1999 until Snyder ordered a change, was the odds-on candidate to replace the retired Bill Parcells as coach of the Cowboys. However, Dallas owner Jerry Jones chose Wade Phillips, the Chargers’ defensive coordinator. Schottenheimer wanted to replace Phillips with Green Bay secondary coach Kurt Schottenheimer, his brother and defensive coordinator in Washington.

General manager A.J. Smith was strongly opposed to that idea. And with Cameron and Phillips both gone, Chargers president Dean Spanos decided that the longstanding tension between Schottenheimer and Smith couldn’t go on and fired the coach. To complete the circle, Turner is hired as Schottenheimer’s replacement on Monday.

Turner, a native of Martinez, Calif., has worked for every team that has called California home: the Rams, Chargers, 49ers and Raiders, who he coached in 2004-05. Turner is also one of four men to coach the Redskins for at least six years. The others — Ray Flaherty, George Allen and Joe Gibbs — are in the Hall of Fame. The closest Turner (59-83-1) will get was introducing Troy Aikman at last year’s induction ceremony.

Plummer to Houston? — The rumored deal of Jake Plummer to the Texans won’t die. Plummer, who lost the starting quarterback job late season in Denver to rookie Jay Cutler, could be headed to Houston. David Carr, the first draft pick in Texans’ history, led the NFL in completion percentage last season but hasn’t come close to leading Houston to the playoffs and has a 23-53 record. Texans general manager Rick Smith and coach Gary Kubiak both worked for the Broncos before coming to Houston last year. Plummer was 32-11 as a starter with Kubiak as his offensive coordinator, reaching the playoffs each season and the AFC Championship game in the 2005 season.

“David’s our starting quarterback, but we’re trying to improve the team, and I’ve fielded some calls about some of our players, including a couple of inquiries asking whether David might be available,” Smith said. “If I believe improving our team involves a player on our team, a player on another team, a free agent or a draft choice, then I’ll absolutely entertain [doing] it.”

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