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Mike McCoy believes Chargers can go from worst to first in AFC West

Coach Mike McCoy and the Chargers finished 4-12 last season, and have lost eight consecutive division games. Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The San Diego Chargers hold out hope that 2015 was an aberration in terms of the team’s performance on the field, and that they can rebound from a disappointing 4-12 season in which they lost 10 of their last 12 games.

The Chargers finished winless in the AFC West for the first time since the 1984 last season. San Diego has not beat an AFC West opponent since a 13-6 win against the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 16, 2014. That is an 0-8 stretch against the division for the Chargers.

Still, head coach Mike McCoy believes his team can go from worst to first in a division that includes the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. The Chargers accomplished a similar feat in 2004, going from 4-12 in 2003 to 12-4 and an AFC West crown.

McCoy notes the Chargers were 3-9 in games decided by eight points or less in 2015 -- San Diego has to execute better in close games this season, and that includes the coaching staff.

"We’ve got to play better for four quarters as a football team," McCoy said. "I’ve got to do a better job of coaching. You dissect everything at this time of year, and it comes down to playing better on Sundays.

"It’s not just one phase or one area. You look at that 3-9 record -- there’s opportunities where maybe you have a foolish penalty somewhere, give up a sack at a critical time or don’t make a sack at a critical time. There’s so many things that go into it, and we all have to do our jobs better. When the game is on the line, we have to perform better."

McCoy said stopping the run more consistently on defense and running the ball more efficiently on offense are two of the many things his team has to improve on during the offseason.

The Chargers also have to play more from ahead, and hold onto those leads. San Diego held a fourth-quarter lead in just seven games last season, and lost three of those games.

"Our whole thing is we’re going to go from the bottom to the top in one year," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said at the end of the season. Rivers was a rookie on the 2004 team led by Drew Brees that went from 4-12 to 12-4. "We’ve done it before. Of course, I had nothing to do with that, other than to cheer Drew on. But it can happen. And that’s going to be our expectation."