Sunday, September 3, 2000, 1:00 p.m. EDT
Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
THIS WEEK: The Jacksonville Jaguars will attempt to win their opening game for the fifth straight year when they travel to Cleveland to face the Browns on Sunday in the opening week of the 2000 season. Kickoff for the game is 1:00 EDT at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
The Jaguars' four-game opening-game winning streak is the second longest current streak in the NFL behind Miami's eight straight wins. The Jaguars lost their inaugural game in 1995 to Houston, and since then have defeated Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Chicago and San Francisco in the last four years. They Jaguars are 2-0 on the road on opening day, and their 4-1 mark gives them the highest winning percentage of any NFL team in their opening game.
The two-time defending AFC Central Division champion Jaguars spent the offseason upgrading a team that had the NFL's best regular-season record in 1999 (14-2) but fell one game shy of the Super Bowl. Jacksonville's 14-2 record during 1999 was the best in franchise history and tied for the fourth most wins in NFL history. They also appeared in their second AFC Championship game in four years. Jacksonville was the only 1998 division winner to win its division in '99, and the Jaguars are one of only two teams to have qualified for postseason play each of the last four seasons (along with Minnesota).
The Jaguars have the best record in the NFL over the last three seasons. Their 36-12 record in that time is two games better than Minnesota and four games better than Denver and Green Bay. The Jaguars also have a 28-4 home record over the last four seasons, tied with Green Bay for the best mark in the NFL. And their 17-9 road record in the last three-plus seasons is also the best in the NFL.
The Jaguars allowed the fewest points in the NFL in 1999 (217) and had the No. 4-ranked defense. The Jacksonville offense led the league in rushing, ranked seventh overall and scored a team-record 396 points (sixth in the league). Jacksonville and St. Louis were the only teams whose offense and defense both ranked in the top 10 in the league.
TELEVISION BROADCAST: The Jaguars-Browns game will be televised regionally by CBS and locally by WJXT Channel 14, with Ian Eagle calling the play-by-play and Mark May adding analysis.
RADIO BROADCAST: All of the Jaguars' games are broadcast on WOKV (690 AM), WBWL (600 AM) and WKQL (96.9 FM) and the Jaguars Radio Network. Brian Sexton calls the play-by-play, former NFL quarterback Matt Robinson adds analysis and Dan Hicken is the sideline reporter. Sexton and Robinson are in their sixth season together. Robinson, Jennifer Candelino, Vic Ketchman and Cole Pepper handle the pre-game show, and Pepper and ex-Oakland Raider Pete Banaszak do the post-game show. A total of 18 affiliates in three states on the Jaguars Radio Network will also broadcast the game.
THE OPPONENT: The Browns were formed in 1946 and won every championship in the four-year history of the All-American Football Conference. They entered the NFL in 1950 and won three more championships in the next six seasons, playing in the NFL title game every year. The Browns also won the 1964 NFL title, then lost the NFL championship three times in the next five years. In 1994, they advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 1988 with a record of 11-5. Several days after the October 22, 1995 game against Jacksonville, Browns owner Art Modell announced that the team would move to Baltimore for the 1996 season. The new Cleveland Browns re-entered the league as an expansion franchise last season, when they went 2-14.
THE SERIES: The Browns and Jaguars have played four times, with Jacksonville having won all four meetings. In 1995, before the original Browns' franchise moved to Baltimore, the Jaguars swept the series, winning 23-15 on October 22 in Cleveland and 24-21 on December 24 in Jacksonville. In 1999, the Jaguars won 24-7 on October 7 at home and 24-14 on December 19 at Cleveland.
THE LAST TIME: The Jaguars defeated the Cleveland Browns 24-14 on December 19, 1999 at Cleveland Browns Stadium for their 11th consecutive victory and seventh straight win on the road. Mark Brunell passed for 267 yards and one touchdown and also scored a TD, as the Jaguars swept the season series. Starting for the first time in five weeks, Fred Taylor rushed for a season-high 136 yards and scored on a 41-yard run, and Damon Jones also scored on a three-yard pass. Jacksonville held the Browns to 269 total yards.
A JAGUARS VICTORY OVER THE BROWNS WOULD: Be their fifth consecutive win on opening day and give them a record of 5-1 in their first game of the season dating back to 1995. It would also be their fifth victory over the Browns in five games and their 30th win against an AFC Central rival. Entering Sunday's game, the Jaguars are 29-13 vs. the AFC Central, including 13-8 on the road. A win would also be Tom Coughlin's 50th.
INJURY UPDATE: Several players suffered injuries in the preseason finale vs. Atlanta: WR R. Jay Soward (ankle), S Mike Logan (hamstring), S Rayna Stewart (head), CB Aaron Beasley (shoulder), DT Emarlos Leroy (calf) … Ten players missed the game against the Falcons because of injuries: Running back Fred Taylor suffered a strained medial collateral ligament in the August 11th game and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks … OT Leon Searcy tore the quadriceps tendon in his right leg on July 24 and underwent surgery on July 27. His status has not yet been determined, but he said he hopes to be back in three months … C John Wade (stress fracture in his right foot) should be back soon … FB Daimon Shelton underwent an operation to repair a broken finger on July 27 and is out indefinitely … DE Joel Smeenge suffered a strained left calf in the first preseason game and is out indefinitely … DT Gary Walker has groin pull … WR Reggie Barlow (knee) … In addition, P Bryan Barker, who sprained his right ankle on July 27, has held for placekicks the last two weeks but has not done any punting.
ROSTER MOVES: Last weekend, the Jaguars released 17 players to get down to the 53-man roster limit: LB Chester Burnett, G/OT Anthony Cesario, OT John Feugill, G Jason Gamble, G/OT Steve Ingram, CB Zebbie Lethridge, S Blaine McElmurry, TE Rod Monroe, S Kevin Peoples, DE David Richie, WR Emanuel Smith, LB Brandon Southward, LB Erik Storz, DE Rahmaan Streater, DE Mike Sutton, LB Corey Terry and FB Kenneth Williams
THE COACHES: Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin (49-31 in regular season, 4-4 in postseason) has led the Jaguars to two consecutive AFC Central Division championships and two appearances in the AFC Championship game. The Jaguars have made the playoffs each of the last four seasons - a first for an NFL expansion team and one of only two teams in the NFL to do so (along with Minnesota). In 1999, the Jaguars had the best record in the NFL (14-2), advancing to the conference championship game before losing to Tennessee. In 1998, Coughlin guided them to their first AFC Central Division championship with an 11-5 record. They defeated the New England Patriots in a Wild-Card game before losing to the New York Jets in the Divisional playoffs. In 1997, the Jaguars were 11-5 and finished second in the AFC Central, and they were defeated by Denver in the Wild-Card playoffs. In their second season in 1996, the Jaguars advanced all the way to the AFC Championship game, finishing the regular season in second place in the division with a 9-7 record. In the playoffs, the Jaguars upset the Bills and Broncos on the road before losing at New England. In 1995, the Jaguars finished with four victories in their inaugural season. Coughlin became head coach of the Jaguars on February 21, 1994 following three successful seasons as head coach at Boston College. He compiled a record of 21-13-1 from 1991 to '93 at Boston College, and had two appearances in bowl games and a ranking of 13th in the final AP poll of 1993. A veteran of 30 years of coaching, he was previously an NFL assistant coach with the New York Giants (wide receivers, 1988-90), Green Bay Packers (wide receivers and passing game coordinator 1986-87) and Philadelphia Eagles (wide receivers, 1984-85).
Chris Palmer is in his second season with the Browns, who returned to the NFL in 1999 by going 2-14. Palmer served as offensive coordinator for the Jaguars and helped the team to the playoffs in 1997 and '98. Jacksonville won the AFC Central Division title in 1998 with an 11-5 regular-season record and defeated the New England Patriots in the first round of the playoffs. The Jaguars went 11-5 in 1997. Prior to joining the Jaguars, Palmer spent four seasons with the New England Patriots. He coached the team's wide receivers from 1993-95 and the quarterbacks in 1996 when the Patriots won the AFC title. Palmer was wide receivers coach for the Houston Oilers in 1990-92. He was an assistant for the Canadian League's Montreal Concordes in 1983-84 and quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator for the USFL's New Jersey Generals in 1985. Palmer was a quarterback at Southern Connecticut State (1968-1971). He began coaching at the University of Connecticut, serving as defensive line and wide receivers coach from 1972-74. Palmer became the wide receivers coach at Lehigh in 1975, before becoming offensive coordinator at Colgate (1976-1982). Palmer's first head coaching job was at New Haven University (1986-87). He was the head coach at Boston University in 1988-89.
JACKSONVILLE-CLEVELAND CONNECTIONS: Browns head coach Chris Palmer was the Jaguars' offensive coordinator in 1997 and '98 … Browns offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael was the Jaguars' wide receivers coach from 1995 to '98 … Three former Jaguars are now with the Browns: WR Damon Dunn (1998 practice squad), G Steve Zahursky (1998 training camp) and DT Mike Thompson (1995) … Two former Browns are now Jaguars: WR Keenan McCardell (1992-95), and C Quentin Neujahr (1994). … Jaguars defensive coordinator Dom Capers was born in Cambridge, Ohio, and coached at Ohio State from 1982 to '83 … Assistant strength coach Greg Finnegan was born in Toledo … TE coach Fred Hoaglin was born in Alliance and played center for the Browns from 1966 to '72 … RB coach Jerald Ingram was born in Dayton … ILB coach Steve Szabo coached at Ohio State from 1979 to '81. … Six Browns have ties to the state of Florida: DB Corey Fuller (Florida State, Tallahassee), DB Earl Little (Miami, Miami), RB Errict Rhett (Florida, West Hollywood), DT Orpheus Roye (Florida State, Miami), LB Rahim Abdullah (Fletcher High, Jacksonville) and DE Derrick Alexander (Florida State, Raines High, Jacksonville). … Players who were college teammates include: Jaguars DE Tony Brackens and Browns PK Phil Dawson at Texas, Jaguars RB Chris Howard and Browns TEs Mark Campbell and Aaron Shea at Michigan, Jaguars DE Renaldo Wynn and Browns FB Marc Edwards at Notre Dame, Browns WR Kevin Johnson and Jaguars OT Mark Baniewicz at Syracuse, Jaguars DBs Erik Olson and Jason Craft and Browns DB Raymond Jackson at Colorado State, Browns OT Roger Chanoine and Jaguars FB Stacey Mack at Temple, and Jaguars G/OT Todd Fordham and Browns DE Derrick L. Alexander, DB Corey Fuller and DT Orpheus Roye at Florida State.
JAGUARS VS. BROWNS: In four games vs. the Browns (two in 1995 and two in '99), Jaguars QB Mark Brunell has completed 66 of 109 passes (60.6%) for 815 yards and three TDs, and he has also rushed 21 times for 133 yards and a TD … PK Mike Hollis is 8 for 10 on field goal attempts and 7 for 8 on extra points for a total of 31 points ... In three games vs. the Browns (one in 1995 and two in '99), Jaguars WR Jimmy Smith has caught 16 passes for 223 yards ... In the two 1999 games vs. the Browns, Jaguars WR Keenan McCardell caught 15 passes for 172 yards ... Jaguars TE Kyle Brady scored his first TD as a Jaguar on a pass from Jay Fiedler (10/17/99) ... In only one game vs. the Browns, Jaguars RB Fred Taylor had 26 carries for 136 yards (his third-highest total and one of his 11 career 100-yard games) … For the Browns, QB Tim Couch completed 28 of 39 passes for 247 yards and one touchdown (he left the second 1999 game in second quarter with a left ankle sprain) … Browns WR Kevin Johnson had 8 receptions for 123 yards in the two 1999 games ... With the Ravens from 1996 to '99, Browns RB Errict Rhett had three TDs, five receptions for 52 yards and 193 rushing yards on 60 carries vs. the Jaguars. In 1995 with Tampa Bay, Rhett ran 24 times for 100 yards and two TDs vs. Jacksonville ... Browns PK Phil Dawson is 3 for 3 vs. Jaguars on extra points.
LAST WEEK: The Jaguars lost for the first time in the 2000 preseason and the first time ever in their final exhibition game heading into the start of the regular season, as they fell to the Atlanta Falcons 31-20 at ALLTEL Stadium last Friday. Tony Boselli and Tony Brackens returned to the starting lineup, but the Jaguars were still missing 10 players who were out with injuries, including five starters. The Jaguars outgained the Falcons but had 10 fewer first downs and held the ball for nearly nine fewer minutes. Jimmy Smith and Alvis Whitted had 100-yard receiving games, as Mark Brunell completed all five of his passes, and Jamie Martin was 10 of 15 to claim the backup job at quarterback.
NOTES FROM THE FALCONS GAME: The Jaguars gained only 85 yards rushing, 37 of them on a scramble by quarterback Jonathan Quinn on the game's final drive. … Starting RB Stacey Mack carried the ball 12 times for 9 yards. … Alvis Whitted led the team with four catches for 109 yards, including a 68-yard TD . Rookie Emanuel Smith also scored on a TD reception. … Mark Brunell was 5 of 5 for 111 yards, Martin was 10 of 15 for 203 yards, and Jonathan Quinn was 5 of 11 for 17 yards and an interception … The Jaguars converted just 4 of 12 third downs (33 percent), while the Falcons converted 5 of 13 (38 percent). … The Jaguars had only one sack and allowed two sacks, and the Jaguars turned the ball over twice and didn't have any takeaways. … MLB T.J. Slaughter led the team with 12 tackles (5 solo), followed by LB Danny Clark with 10 tackles (3 solo) … Steve Lindsey punted four times for a 39.3-yard average, with two inside the 20 and no touchbacks. … The 10 players who did not play were: WR Reggie Barlow, RB Fred Taylor, FB Daimon Shelton, S Blaine McElmurry, LB Chester Burnett, C John Wade, G/OT Steve Ingram, OT Leon Searcy, DT Gary Walker and DE Joel Smeenge … Jaguars captains were CB Aaron Beasley, C Quentin Neujahr and PK Steve Lindsey.
FROM COACH TOM COUGHLIN ON THE FALCONS GAME: "We shot ourselves in the foot all night. This was the most undisciplined game we have played. We had numerous penalties which sustained drives and turned into points on the other end. The matchups in the second half were not good. I knew that we had played the pass well in the preseason, but we didn't look very good tonight. I'm disappointed offensively. This was not a performance that leads up to an opening game."
(on the score) "I don't blame it on anything except the lack of people making plays. It was a short week. We crammed in as much as we could. We made it simple. But I don't think Atlanta was very complicated, either. In the second half, our pressure package on defense did nothing. It didn't create anything for us. We thought highly about our linebacker play, but that didn't appear in the second half. I am disappointed in the game. There is no question about it. I was not pleased as the game was unfolding. We were trying to follow a certain rotation as far as number of plays, and as people were coming off, I was not happy. It was not the way I wanted to finish up. I had some goals that had to do with where we wanted to be from the standpoint of physical play, being an alert team, performing under those circumstances. Some people that we're going to have to count on performed very poorly tonight, and that makes me feel very uncomfortable."
(on Jamie Martin as the backup quarterback) "I think Jamie did a good job tonight, and he will be the No. 2 quarterback going into the regular season."
(on having Tony Brackens and Tony Boselli back in the lineup) "It was good having those two back. They played in the first 10 plays. We went deep in the second quarter and our defense had only 14 plays. I hoped they would stay out for three more plays, but that was the drive extended by penalties. Tony (Brackens) getting 10 plays and getting knocked around, and Tony Boselli played 10 plays as well and looked good. But, even with Tony in there, we didn't rush the ball well."
FROM QB MARK BRUNELL: "This isn't the way we wanted to go out, but at the same time it is a preseason game. Hopefully, this will bring a sense of urgency to the football team. It's for real now."
(on Boselli's return) "It was good to have Tony back in the huddle. Tony was excited to get that first one out of the way. He felt strong and had no problems. We've got the big guy back."
FROM OT TONY BOSELLI: (on his return): "It has been a long road back and tonight was just another step. We have some more work to do to get ready for the opener. Tonight I was more worried about myself than anything. I don't know exactly where I'm at. Football-wise I would say I'm only about 80 percent right now. But, as far as my whole game goes, I have a ways to go. It takes time. I didn't have training camp or preseason, so now I'll just have to speed up the process and get ready."
(on the offensive line play) "We need to work together and all get on the same page. We all need to get better up front and the offense will take care of itself."
FROM OT ZACH WIEGERT: (on the offense) "We really didn't get much done tonight. We came down on the first drive and Jimmy made a great catch, but then we sputtered. Then we got down there again and sputtered. Seems like we had some bad plays at times when we should have been attacking the endzone. There are a lot of things we need to improve on, but that's why they have the preseason."
(on getting ready for Cleveland) "This next week of practice is going to be really important. A lot of what we have to do is the offensive line playing together more. Tony will be back and (Brenden) Stai will be working fulltime, so it will really help just to work with one another."
(on Boselli's return) "Basically for me, when I see Tony in the huddle, I know the left tackle is going to get his job done almost every play. You have to have that trust in the other players that if you do your job, they'll do theirs. With Tony in there, you know he'll get the job done."
FROM MLB HARDY NICKERSON: (on the defense) "We had a tough outing. We got a little humble pie. We have to work on a few things and get ready for the regular season. We have a lot of work to do, but we'll just have to pull it together and get ready to play. We shot ourselves in the foot with the penalties and just giving them plays. We're just going to have to play smarter and not give up the big plays. Those are things we can not afford to do."
NEXT WEEK: The Jaguars will be back on the road, as they travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens at 1:00 Sunday, September 10 at PSINet Stadium. The Jaguars have won all eight games against the Ravens since the franchise moved from Cleveland in 1996. Last season, the Jaguars won 6-3 in Jacksonville and 30-23 in Baltimore. In the 2000 preseason, the Ravens finished 4-0, joining Denver and Tampa Bay as the NFL's only undefeated teams.
BRUNELL'S TOUCHDOWN TARGETS: Mark Brunell has thrown 86 TD passes in five seasons in Jacksonville. Here are the 14 players who have caught them: Jimmy Smith (23), Keenan McCardell (17), Damon Jones (10), Willie Jackson (10), Pete Mitchell (7), James Stewart (5), Ernest Givins (3), Cedric Tillman (3), Fred Taylor (2), Andre Rison (2), Derek Brown (1), Ty Hallock (1), Desmond Howard (1), Natrone Means (1).
WHERE THEY'RE FROM: The 53 players on the Jaguars' opening day roster were born in 24 different states and the District of Columbia, as well as one foreign country.
Here's where the 2000 Jaguars were born: 8 - California; 7 - Georgia; 3 - Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania; 2 - Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Texas, Virginia; 1 - Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Washington D.C. The only Jaguar who were born in a foreign country is DE Rob Meier (Vancouver, British Columbia).