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SD seeking first win, too


Expectations for the San Diego Chargers were high going into this season. General Manager A.J. Smith proclaimed this is the year the Chargers need to "chase the championship," but four games into the season the Chargers are still chasing their first win.

The Chargers will attempt to get win number one this Sunday at Alltel Stadium, in a crossroads game between two teams struggling to reclaim their preseason hopes. The winner may, the loser almost certainly won't.

"Somewhere we've got to get a win. It has to happen one day, and hopefully when we get the win it will kind of build our confidence, and that way we can start to build on something. But you can't build on anything when you're losing games," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said.

The situation in San Diego is desperate. The Chargers signed wide receiver David Boston to a $47 million free-agency contract during the offseason, and Boston responded with behavior that caused coach Marty Schottenheimer to suspend Boston for the Chargers' game against the Raiders last Sunday.

How bad is it in San Diego? Well, attendance has fallen dramatically at a time when the team is campaigning for a new stadium. The Chargers' 24-10 loss to the Ravens in week three marked the third time in the last eight seasons the team has lost three consecutive games by 13 or more points, and angry fans are pointing to the fact the Chargers have just one more win than the Cincinnati Bengals over the last three-plus seasons.

All hope would seem to rest with Schottenheimer, who faced the same kind of desperation two seasons ago in Washington, when the Redskins began the year 0-5. But Schottenheimer rallied his team to eight wins in the final 11 games. Can he rally the Chargers?

"I think he's as good a coach as I've ever seen," club president Dean Spanos said. "This team has not played up to its capabilities. But I don't care what anybody says, I believe we have a real good coach, a veteran coach who's been around. He's been in these situations before and he knows how to handle it. He knows what he's doing and he knows what the problems are."

The Chargers' main problem is a defense ranked near the bottom of the league (27th). The run-defense has been especially bad (29th), and with that in mind the Jaguars are likely to give the Chargers a heavy dose of Fred Taylor.

On offense, the problem has been a very bulky performance by Drew Brees, who has thrown an AFC-high seven interceptions through three games. Brees' passer rating, 63.2, is next-to-last in the AFC, just ahead of Baltimore rookie quarterback Kyle Boller.

Of course, Brees' failures underscore the Chargers' decision in the 2001 draft to trade the first pick of the draft to Atlanta, who used that choice to select Michael Vick. The Chargers came away with Tomlinson and Brees in the first two rounds, which put Brees in the position of being forever judged against Vick.

"We're improving week by week," Schottenheimer said. "None of us are satisfied with the outcome. Don't consider for one moment that I'm being cavalier about losing a football game. That's not it at all. We're going to keep working together as we have to improve as a football team. Nobody said this was going to be an easy deal. Nobody did."

Schottenheimer's remarks have been interpreted to mean the Chargers may not have the talent to "chase the championship."

"One game; that's all anybody in this room is looking for," Schottenheimer said.

Will the Chargers find that "one game" at the Jaguars' expense?

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