Before the Bye

This is it. This game represents the last time the San Diego Chargers can make an impression before the bye week. The Jacksonville Jaguars are feeling the same way in Florida. The Bolts don't want to go into the bye week stewing over another loss with two weeks to think about it. If they can get this victory, coupled with a few days off, it could turn the season in the right direction. Fans are hoping they too finally have reasons to smile.

"You don't want to go into the bye week on a down note," quarterback Drew Brees said.

It's one thing to be 1-4, lightening the mood and giving everyone a breath of fresh air. It's another thing to be 0-5, and have a bye week to think about the load the team has dropped in the toilet.

A confidence builder would do nice right about now. The Chargers have cut themselves a hole and dropped in it to take cover. A win this week will have them peering over the edge.

"Somewhere we've got to get a win," LaDainian Tomlinson said. "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."

"Last year I remember at the bye week we were 6-1, just coming off that big win in Oakland," said Brees, recalling the good old days. "It just makes you feel so much better."

The good old days ended abruptly last season after the bye week. The Bolts went 2-7 after a 6-1 start. They hope to reverse the trend and finish strong this season after their dismal start.

The road isn't any easier coming off the bye week as the Chargers will be on the road until the homecoming game for Junior Seau, October 27th. The focus is on the week ahead. Unless, of course, the team is dreaming about getting an early start on the bye week and takes this Sunday's game off.

"I think everyone is tired of having that lump in their stomach all week long," Brees said.

If the Chargers fall to the winless Jaguars (0-4), that feeling won't change. What will is the length it is guaranteed to linger, as the Chargers won't get a chance to erase it until October 19 in Cleveland.

A loss Sunday at Jacksonville and the Chargers will have two weeks of feeling blue before seeing the Browns. Jacksonville is a good team starting a rookie quarterback. That does not bode well for the Chargers who have historically struggled against youngsters.

"They are a team that has played well at times," said Marty Schottenheimer.

They have and so have the Bolts, but the delusion isn't visible in Jacksonville. Head Coach Jack Del Rio knows his team has work to do.

"We have a big task ahead of us, but you don't get there in one play. That's the significance of chopping wood," the coach added of an oak stump and axe that sit in the middle of the Jaguars locker room. Wood chips were strewn about the floor this afternoon, and a large section of wood had been chopped away since Wednesday. "We understand where we're headed as an organization," Del Rio said.

The Chargers thought they were headed towards a push year. Instead they are pushing the lid off the garbage container as they currently reside in the trash heap, forgotten in the AFC West

It is uncertain if the Chargers know where they are headed. The rails came off the track quickly this season and coaches and players alike are fighting for their jobs more than wins. Heck, some players are trying to regain some form for when they head to another team next year.

Truth is the Chargers could care less how the Jaguars are doing. They must first focus on themselves.

"I'm not looking at their record right now," said Schottenheimer. "I think what's important here is that we focus on the things we're doing instead of Jacksonville. It's about us and what we are able to do and the way we go about doing it."

Tomlinson, frustrated last season after missing this season, is still among the few voices of reason. He doesn't care about his performance in last week's game in Oakland.

"It's wasted. I can't enjoy it; we're still losers," Tomlinson said.

The players should all feel this way. Putting aside personal gains and goals is the first step towards a Championship. Very few Chargers are close to grasping that.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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