Punchless Jaguars host Chargers

Another disappointing season in Jacksonville finally cost Jack Del Rio his job as Jaguars coach.¬†With San Diego mired in its longest skid in a decade, coach Norv Turner’s time with the Chargers also might be running out.

In their first game since firing Del Rio, the Jaguars look to hand the visiting Chargers a seventh consecutive loss Monday night.

Most sports books monitored by SportsOptions have installed the Chargers as three-point road favorites, with the total set at 39.

On the hot seat after three seasons without a winning record, Del Rio had no room for error in 2011. So with Jacksonville sitting at 3-8 and averaging an NFL-low 12.5 points, Del Rio was fired Tuesday and replaced by defensive coordinator Mel Tucker on an interim basis.

In addition to firing Del Rio, who went 69-73 with the Jaguars since 2003, owner Wayne Weaver agreed to sell the team to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan and gave general manager Gene Smith a three-year extension. Forbes reported the sale to be worth $760 million.

“It’s the right thing at the right time and for the right reasons,” said the 77-year-old Weaver, who had been looking to sell the team for years but only if it remained in Jacksonville.

“We deserve better; the community deserves better. We’ve been very average over the last few years. I take responsibility for a lot of that, making mistakes in some personnel things, but look positive ahead that this team is not far away from being a very competitive football team.”

The changes are the most significant in the history of a franchise that has reached the playoffs six times since entering the league in 1995.

“It’s the nature of the beast,” tight end Marcedes Lewis said. “Change is good sometimes. Obviously, it’s an unfortunate situation. … This is the NFL and unfortunate things happen sometimes.”

While the Jaguars hope to prosper in the future, the present appears stagnant.

They will try to avoid a third consecutive defeat after falling 20-13 to Houston last Sunday. It was the sixth straight game Jacksonville has been held to fewer than 20 points.

The Jaguars continue to live through the growing pains of rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who has thrown two touchdowns over the last five games.

Only Maurice Jones-Drew has been a bright spot, rushing for 1,040 yards to top the 1,000-yard mark for a third consecutive season. His 3,755 rushing yards since the beginning of the 2009 season are the second-most in the NFL.

Jones-Drew, who ran for 99 yards on 18 carries versus Houston, has rushed 24 times for just 64 yards and a touchdown in two games against the Chargers. He was held to 31 on 12 carries in a 38-13 loss at San Diego in 2010.

Philip Rivers passed for 344 yards with three touchdowns in that contest, but he’s thrown 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during the Chargers’ six-game losing streak.

Rivers’ 6-yard TD pass to Antonio Gates gave San Diego (4-7) a 10-0 second-quarter lead over Denver last Sunday, but the Chargers managed only a Nick Novak field goal the rest of the way and fell 16-13 in overtime at home to continue their worst skid since dropping nine straight in 2001.

San Diego has lost five times by seven or fewer points, the most by any AFC team.

“It’s just snowballed out of control,” said Rivers, who threw for 309 yards and two interceptions in a 24-17 loss in the Chargers’ last visit to Jacksonville in 2007.

San Diego’s slide only continues to put the heat on Turner. Under contract through 2013, Turner led the Chargers to the playoffs in his first three seasons before they missed out with a 9-7 record in 2010.

Turner, though, is trying not worry about his future.

“I’m not oblivious to any of that, but it’s not something that’s going to be an issue for me and I’m not going to talk a lot about it over the next five weeks,” Turner said. “I’ve been doing this a long time and I do know how to go about preparing for a game. We’ve gotten our guys prepared and that’s going to be our goal to keep getting them prepared.”

On a positive note, second-year back Ryan Mathews ran for a career-high 137 yards on 22 carries against the Broncos.

Fellow running back Mike Tolbert gained 82 yards and scored twice on 16 rushes against the Jaguars in 2010.

The Chargers and Jaguars have split their previous four meetings with the home team winning each time.

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