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A little bye-week review

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Surprising

Denver Broncos—We laughed when they signed Cleveland's defensive line and we couldn't imagine how Mike Shanahan expected to win with Jake Plummer at quarterback. Well, the Broncos are 5-1 and have beaten San Diego, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Washington and New England. Meanwhile, Plummer is playing the best football of his life. All of this makes Shanahan the leading candidate for coach of the year.

Dallas Cowboys—Maybe Bill Parcells really does know more than everybody else. He acquired Drew Bledsoe, who was "Drew Dreadful" in Buffalo but leads the NFC in passer rating six weeks into this season.

Mark Brunell—The former Jaguars quarterback has a passer rating of 91.5, having thrown nine touchdown passes and only two interceptions. Who didn't think Brunell's career was at an end last season?

Edgerrin James—He's been a great back for a long time but did anyone see this coming? James leads the AFC in rushing with 662 yards.

Shaun Alexander—Yeah, the guy has been a real yardage-gainer and touchdown-maker, but his numbers this year are off the chart. Alexander has rushed for 715 yards, a 5.5 yards per carry average and 12, count 'em, 12 touchdowns. He's on pace to have the best season of any player in NFL history. Can you believe the Seahawks couldn't find a team interested in trading for Alexander?

Arizona WR duo—Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin have combined for 72 receptions, 1,051 yards and five touchdowns, on a team that is thought to be in desperate need of a quarterback. What if Fitzgerald and Boldin played on a team that didn't have a desperate need at quarterback?

Disappointing

Minnesota Vikings—They have embarrassed themselves on and off the field. Please, let me be the owner.

Houston and David Carr—This was supposed to be their breakout year. So far, it's their breakdown year. The Texans are 0-5 and fired their offensive coordinator after week two. Carr has a 71.7 passer rating and the talk is the Texans will make Matt Leinart the first pick of next spring's draft.

Randy Moss—He has just 19 catches and two touchdowns. That's not star stuff.

Green Bay Packers—It's not as though the Packers' fall wasn't expected, but 1-4 in that division?

All right, now how about some Jaguars highs and lows?

Highs

Defense—Forget about the rankings. Jack Del Rio and Mike Smith applied themselves to doing what it takes to win games, which has hurt the Jaguars in the run-defense rankings but has delivered a consistently strong and schematically correct effort in every game. By my calculations, the defense is responsible for half of the Jaguars' 108 points.

Hanson and Scobee—They've been outstanding and represent one of the best 1-2 kicking-game punches in the league.

Khalif Barnes—The rookie left tackle has literally saved the day.

Rashean Mathis—His performance through six games qualifies him as the prototype of contemporary cornerbacks.

Pro personnel department—Reggie Hayward, Kenny Wright and Terry Cousin are great free-agent signings.

Alvin Pearman—He leads the Jaguars in all-purpose yards and he solved a critical need at the punt-return position since halfway through the second game of the season.

No blackouts—Three down, five to go. Can Jacksonville make it through a season without blacking out a game?

Lows

Passing game—It has yet to step up. Byron Leftwich has only reached the 200-yard mark twice this season and the last two games have produced just 177 and 161 yards each. This is a phase of the game in which the Jaguars have invested three first-round picks and an intense re-design. Production is necessary.

Tight end—Kyle Brady, George Wrighster and Brian Jones have combined for just 12 catches and one touchdown.

Coverage teams—The Jaguars punt and kickoff coverage teams are at 26th and 30th in the league. Though those rankings are largely the product of a poor performance in Pittsburgh, we have to ask what's wrong?

City's snub—Wayne Weaver thought he had a deal. What a shame he didn't. This team and its fans deserve the security of knowing professional football is here to stay in Jacksonville.

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