The Washington Commandos' quest for their first victory of this Arena Football season won't get any easier tonight, when the 2-1 Albany Firebirds bring the league's top-ranked defense to Patriot Center for an 8 o'clock game.

That's not good news for the Commandos' offense, which is scoring only 24 points per game, last in the six-team league (Pittsburgh is first at 41.7).

"We're improving each week," said Commandos Coach Mike Hohensee. "I think we're outhitting everybody, but we're beating ourselves" with mistakes.

Hohensee said he would start Mike Rhodes at quarterback. The 6-foot-7 Rhodes, who replaced Tony Burris halfway through the second game of the season, was impressive in last week's 55-32 loss to Pittsburgh, throwing for 247 yards and four touchdowns on 18-of-39 passing.

"He showed a lot of poise," said Hohensee. "He's not super fast, but he sidesteps well and he's got a great arm."

With Rhodes at the helm, the Commandos (0-3) have been able to move the ball but haven't been able to score, mostly because receivers have dropped a slew of passes.

But tonight the Commandos' receiving corps will be bolstered by the return of Charlie Brown, the former Washington Redskins Pro Bowl wide receiver who has been hampered by a deep thigh bruise since the opening game. He played only the first half two weeks ago and sat out the loss to Pittsburgh, but will start tonight.