Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Turner's secrets to December success

By Tim MacMahon

IRVING, Texas -- San Diego Chargers coach Norv Turner didn’t have much interest in discussing his candidacy for the job that Jerry Jones gave Wade Phillips in 2007.

But Turner was more than willing to discuss his December success, something the Dallas Cowboys certainly haven’t enjoyed recently. The Chargers are 10-0 in December games under Turner, success that has served as a springboard to a 3-2 playoff record the last two years.

“We have real good players, and as the season goes on, you’d like for those guys to keep getting better,” Turner said in a conference call with Valley Ranch media.

Turner noted that there were several factors to the Chargers’ December dominance, such as a favorable schedule, good fortune with health getting key players back from injuries. He tweaks the team’s schedule during the week down the stretch, breaking up the monotony of a long season. He agrees with Jimmy Johnson, his former boss at Valley Ranch, that teams that rely on young players benefit from their energy and enthusiasm late in the season.

And there is a snowball effect to the Chargers’ late-season success. They enter stadiums with a swagger at this time of year.

“Our team has that anyway, because we do have a lot of good players,” Turner said. “There is a sense of confidence. I think one of the things too obviously to win games like that in December, like any other time of year, you have to win close games and you have to win games in the fourth quarter. We’ve been able to do that.”

The Cowboys haven’t, going 3-6 in December under Phillips. If those trends don’t end Sunday, the Cowboys are in serious trouble.