SAN DIEGO (AP) -LaDainian Tomlinson is weary, sore and doesn't seem to have any answers.
Fans of the San Diego Chargers seem pretty beat up, too, although they've got some really strong opinions about what's wrong with their team.
Five games into what is supposed to be a Super Bowl season, the Bolts are bewildering. They're 2-3 and need to win Sunday night against their most recent nemesis, the New England Patriots, to avoid being in a real mess.
It's nervous time in laid-back Southern California. Those fans who haven't jumped off the bandwagon are edgy.
Within minutes of the latest loss, 17-10 to the Miami Dolphins and their college offense, the Internet and airwaves were as hot as a Santa Ana wind blowing out of the desert. Fans are venting on talk radio, in letters to newspapers and postings on the Web.
The favorite target is Norv Turner. He's the second-year coach who looked distraught after the Chargers were outplayed by a team that won only one game last year and uses an offensive scheme borrowed from college playbooks.
A sampling of the discontent:
``Memo to A.J. Smith: Looks like you kept the wrong Turner,'' Lance McCune from Bonsall wrote to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The other Turner, of course, is Michael Turner. He used to be L.T.'s backup until Smith, the general manager, allowed him to leave as a free agent. Turner leads the NFL in rushing. Tomlinson, the two-time defending NFL rushing champion, is tied with tight end Antonio Gates for the team lead in sore big toes.
Someone with the screen name Toilet Duck checked in on the North County Times Web site: ``This team stinks and they have now been officially NORVED!!!!''
Norved. Enter that one into SoCal speak, dude.
Remember, it was just more than a year ago that angry fans chanted ``MAR-TY! MAR-TY! MAR-TY!'' during the final minutes of an embarrassing home loss to Kansas City. Four games into Turner's tenure and fans suddenly started missing Marty Schottenheimer, whose playoff shortcomings had made him a goat. It was too late; Schottenheimer had been fired months earlier because of an icy relationship with Smith.
The Chargers were 1-3 at that point. They hit 5-5 before winning eight straight and making it all the way to the AFC championship game before losing to the Patriots.
Never strong to begin with, public confidence in Turner seems to erode more with every loss.
Fans are tossing around words such as ``overrated'' and ``underachievers.''
The coach's response?
ago. We've got to do our job. As I said after the game Sunday, I said it again Monday: We've got to coach better and we've got to play better. We've got to go out and put a complete game together. We've played sections of games where we've played good on offense and struggled on defense or struggled on defense and struggled on offense.''
There are any number of reasons for those struggles:
-Turner is usually the top scapegoat in the minds of fans, followed by defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell. Turner is 71-90-1 as an NFL coach. In fairness, he was saddled with two years of losing with Oakland and some underachieving teams in Washington. And it was under Turner that the Chargers got their first playoff wins in 13 seasons.
Still, Turner left a lot of people befuddled when he called for Tomlinson to run up the middle on fourth-and-goal from the 1 at Miami. With no push from the line, L.T. never had a chance.
Even Chargers.com, the cyber Camp Happy for all things Bolts, isn't immune from griping fans.
``We keep running into our own guys poor oline,'' posted thumper300zx. ``Not controlling the line. Not getting a push for a single yard is pathetic.''
-``Lights Out'' has been shut off. Shawne Merriman, the star outside linebacker who led the NFL with 39 1/2 sacks during the last three seasons, played one game before deciding to have season-ending surgery to repair two torn knee ligaments. There isn't the same electricity on defense without the guy who earned his nickname with his hard hits.
-Tomlinson's toe, among other injuries to key starters. Still, Turner and Tomlinson say injuries shouldn't be used as an excuse.
After all, the Chargers love to boast about the depth they've built by signing numerous players to long-term contracts. ``Line 'em up three deep and let 'em compete,'' is one of Smith's mantras.
The GM didn't return phone calls seeking comment.
Tomlinson hasn't been his slashing, dashing self, except for his usual domination of the Raiders. The NFL's MVP two seasons ago, L.T. is averaging only 3.7 yards per carry, a yard less than last season and almost a yard off his career average.
The Chargers keep saying they can put together another winning run. Tomlinson, though, knows not to assume anything.
``We've got a heck of a challenge this week. We can't afford to go 2-4. Just too tough of a road ahead. We can't keep on doing this and saying this. Now it's at a point where it's becoming a must-win for us if we're going to do the things we set out to do at the beginning of the year.''

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