THIS WEEK: "A work in progress." That's what head coach Tom Coughlin calls his Jacksonville Jaguars, who are 3-1 and tied for first place in the AFC South after a 28-25 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday at ALLTEL Stadium. The Jaguars are off to their best start since 1999, when they last made the playoffs. The team now goes on the road for back-to-back games and will be out of town for five of the next seven weeks. First up is the Tennessee Titans, their long-time nemesis from the old AFC Central Division. Kickoff for Sunday's game at the Coliseum in Nashville, Tenn. is 4:15 p.m. EDT. The Titans are 1-4 after losing to the Washington Redskins 31-14 last Sunday.
The Jaguars' victory over the Eagles is the team's most important in two-and-a-half years. "This game was big for this team — it just remains to be seen how big," said Jaguars QB Mark Brunell. "I think you will see that guys realize it's still early and there is a lot of football to be played. This season is going to start rolling real fast. We won a big game, but now let's start thinking about the Titans — that's what good football teams do — and we'll see if we're one of those teams. We have some momentum. We're going into a real tough environment. The Titans are an old rival, so hopefully we can carry what has happened the last four weeks into next week."
The Jaguars are the NFL's best road team with a 24-19 record dating back to the 1996 season, one game ahead of the New York Jets and one-and-a-half games better than the Titans. The Jaguars and Titans are two of only five NFL teams with a better-than-.500 mark on the road dating back to November 24, 1996.
October is the only month in which the Jaguars have a losing record in their eight-year history. With the win over Philadelphia, they now have a 13-16 mark after going 0-3 last year and 1-7 over the last two Octobers. In the last six seasons, the Jaguars have the fourth-best record in the NFL, a 52-32 mark that is four games behind the Green Bay Packers (who played on Monday night).
There are 22 new players on the Jaguars' roster, including 10 new starters. "It was said a lot that this would be a rebuilding year, looking at the guys we lost and the young guys we added," said Brunell. "We have a lot of young guys playing some good football right now, and I think at this point being 3-1, all that talk should be pushed aside. We have the potential to be very good, but it's still early and there is a lot of football to be played. I hope our young guys realize that."
In their first four games, the Jaguars have gained 1,443 yards on offense, an average of 360.8 yards per game that is the most in the season's first four games in franchise history. The Jaguars have scored 104 points, their second most ever in the first four games, by scoring 23 or more points in all four after doing so just four times in all of 2001. They have won on the ground, through the air, and with big plays — all reminiscent of the team's best seasons from 1996 through 1999. The Jaguars rank ninth in the NFL in total offense, and they are first in the AFC in four categories.
Defensively, the Jaguars have allowed 72 points, an average of 18.0 points per game that ranks third in the AFC. The defense ranks 23rd in total yards allowed. Jacksonville held the NFL's highest scoring offense, Kansas City, to only 16 points, kept Peyton Manning to 211 yards passing, held two of the league's best running backs, Edgerrin James and Priest Holmes, under 100 yards, and held the Eagles to 10 points until they scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes.
TELEVISION BROADCAST: The Jaguars-Titans game will be televised regionally on CBS and locally on WTEV Channel 47 (Ch. 6 cable), with Ian Eagle calling the play-by-play and Solomon Wilcots adding analysis. The Jaguars Pregame Show airs at 11:30 a.m. on WTEV Channel 47 (Ch. 6 cable), with Brian Sexton, Ryan Elijah and Jordan Siegel.
RADIO BROADCAST: All Jaguars games are broadcast on WOKV (690 AM) and WKQL (96.9 FM) and the Jaguars Radio Network. Brian Sexton calls the play-by-play and former NFL quarterback Matt Robinson adds analysis, with Cole Pepper serving as field reporter for home games. Sexton and Robinson are in their eighth season together. Robinson, Vic Ketchman and Pepper handle the pre-game show (three hours before kickoff on both stations), and Pepper and ex-Oakland Raider Pete Banaszak do the post-game show. A total of 16 affiliates in three states on the Jaguars Radio Network will also broadcast the game.
ON THE INTERNET: The Jaguars website has unveiled a re-designed look for the 2002 season. For breaking news, columns, feature stories, press releases, historical information, video highlights, rosters, depth charts and statistics, go to www.jaguars.com Updated daily, the Jaguars' Official Web Site has been ranked among the 100 Best Sites in the World by PC Magazine. The site also features online ticket buying, new merchandise offerings and multimedia, including video of Jaguars television shows and live radio game broadcasts.
ON THE AIR THIS WEEK:
Monday — Jaguars Reporters, 6:00 p.m., WOKV Radio, with Brian Sexton, Vic Ketchman
The Jaguars End Zone, 7:00 p.m., WJXT-TV4, with Sam Kouvaris, Donovin Darius and a guest
Wednesday — Jaguars This Week, 6:00 p.m., WOKV Radio, with Brian Sexton, Vic Ketchman, Jeff Lageman
Thursday — Tom Coughlin Show, 6:00 p.m., WOKV Radio, with Tom Coughlin, Brian Sexton
THE Jaguars Show, 8:00 p.m., WJXT-TV4, with Brian Sexton, Jeff Lageman
Saturday — Tom Coughlin Show, 7:30 p.m., WJXT-TV4, with Tom Coughlin, Brian Sexton
THE OPPONENT: The Tennessee Titans appeared in the AFC Championship game in 1999, advancing to the Super Bowl after beating Jacksonville, and lost to Baltimore in the Divisional Playoffs last year. Formerly the Houston Oilers, they were a charter member of the American Football League, starting play in 1960. They won the first two AFL championships behind the passing of George Blanda to Charlie Hennigan, then lost the 1962 AFL title game. Behind the running of future Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell, the Oilers advanced to conference championship games in 1978 and '79. They struggled again for a number of years, then advanced to the playoffs every season from 1987 to '93, though losing in the first round of the playoffs five times and then falling to 2-14 in 1994. In 1995, they rebounded to a 7-9 record under coach Jeff Fisher, and were 8-8 for three straight seasons before their 13-3 mark in 1999. The Oilers moved to Tennessee in 1997 and played in Memphis for a season before moving to Nashville and playing at Vanderbilt in 1998. In 2000, they finished 13-3 again and won the AFC Central Division, but they slipped to 7-9 last season.
THE SERIES: The two teams have played 14 games, with each club winning seven times (Tennessee also won the 1999 AFC Championship game). In the first five years of the series, the home team lost eight of the 10 games, and it wasn't until the last two years that the home team has won both games. In addition, every game in the series but two have been decided by eight or fewer points. The Oilers won 10-3 in the Jaguars' inaugural game in 1995, and then the Jaguars got their first win in franchise history on October 1, 1995 by a score of 17-16 in the Astrodome. In 1996, the Oilers won 34-27 in Jacksonville and 23-17 in the Astrodome. In '97, Jacksonville won 30-24 in Memphis' Liberty Bowl, and two weeks later won 17-9 at ALLTEL Stadium. In 1998, the Jaguars won 27-22 at Vanderbilt Stadium, and then lost 16-13 later that year in their only home loss of the season. In 1999, the Titans won both regular-season games, 20-19 at ALLTEL Stadium and 41-14 at Adelphia Coliseum, as well as the AFC Championship game 33-14 at Jacksonville. In 2000, the Titans won 27-13 in Nashville and the Jaguars won 16-13 in Jacksonville. Last season, the Jaguars won 13-6 at ALLTEL Stadium, and the Titans won the rematch 28-24 in Nashville.
THE LAST TIME: The Jaguars lost their fifth straight game of the season 28-24 to the Titans on November 4, 2001 in Nashville when the Titans scored the winning touchdown with 44 seconds left to play. Jacksonville led 17-7 at halftime and scored its most points to date, but the Jaguars were outscored 21-7 in the second half to fall to 2-5 for the season. Steve McNair scored two touchdowns rushing and passed for two more to account for all of Tennessee's scores, and Eddie George, who was questionable going into the game, rushed for 74 yards and gained 45 more yards on six receptions. The Jaguars' five-game losing streak tied the second-longest losing streak in franchise history. Following a Tennessee touchdown in the first period, the Jaguars struck back with 17 unanswered points in the second quarter. Stacey Mack scored on a one-yard run, Kyle Brady caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Mark Brunell and Mike Hollis added a 38-yard field goal on the last play of the first half. Tennessee opened the second half with a touchdown, then took a 21-17 lead in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars responded with an 84-yard drive capped by Frank Moreau's four-yard TD run and a 24-21 lead with 3:05 remaining. But the Titans drove 59 yards in 10 plays, with McNair scoring from one yard out. Brunell was sacked twice in the final 44 seconds. Jacksonville had only 22 plays in the second half and just 22:12 time of possession for the game. The Titans, who were held to 118 yards in the first half, responded with 244 yards in the second half. Jimmy Smith caught seven passes for 120 yards.
A JAGUARS VICTORY OVER THE TITANS WOULD: Give the Jaguars a 4-1 record — their best start in three years — and keep them in first place in the AFC South. It would put the Jaguars over .500 after five games for the first time since 1999. It would be their second straight road win, their fifth in the last six road games, the first at Tennessee since 1997 and the first at The Coliseum.
COUGHLIN IN EIGHTH SEASON WITH JAGUARS: Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin is in his eighth season as the team's head coach, tied for the third-longest tenure of any NFL coach with his current team. In addition, Coughlin has the fifth-best record of all current NFL coaches in division games (minimum of 20 wins) and the seventh-best record in home games (minimum of 16 home games). Records include all teams coached by an individual during the regular season.
THE COACHES: Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin (65-51 in regular season, 4-4 in postseason) has led the Jaguars to two AFC Central Division championships and two appearances in the AFC Championship game in seven seasons as the only head coach in franchise history. In his first seven seasons, Coughlin posted a 39-23 division record against the AFC Central, including 22-9 at home and 17-14 on the road. The Jaguars made the playoffs all four seasons from 1996 to '99 — a first for an NFL expansion team. 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 his team to its first AFC Central Division championship with an 11-5 record. The Jaguars 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 second 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 bowl game appearances, as well as a ranking of 13th in the final AP poll of 1993. A veteran of 31 years in 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).
Jeff Fisher is in his eighth full season as the Titans' coach, and he has a record of 69-59 (he was an interim coach for the final six games of 1994). Fisher led the Titans to the franchise's first AFC championship in 1999, and a trip to Super Bowl XXXIV. He also guided the Titans to the AFC Central Division title in 2000 (the Titans were a Wild-Card playoff team during their Super Bowl run). Fisher owns the franchise record for victories by a head coach, surpassing Bum Phillips in 2000, and is the fourth-youngest head coach (since 1960) to reach the 50-win plateau. He is only the fifth coach in NFL history to lead a team to back-to-back 13-win seasons (1999-2000). Fisher played defensive back for the Chicago Bears (1981-85). He holds club records for punt-return yards in a season (509 in 1981) and punt returns in a season (58 in 1984). His 88-yard punt return for a touchdown in 1981 was the Bears' longest in 39 years. He played in the secondary at Southern California (1977-1980) with Dennis Smith and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Ronnie Lott. Fisher began his coaching career with Philadelphia (1986-1990) before moving on to the Los Angeles Rams (1990) and San Francisco (1992-93).
JACKSONVILLE-TENNESSEE CONNECTIONS: Jaguars RB Dan Alexander played for the Titans in 2001 and was signed from the their practice squad before the start of this season … Four Jaguars have ties to the state of Tennessee: CB Fernando Bryant (Murfreesboro), S Ainsley Battles (Vanderbilt), LB Eric Westmoreland (University of Tennessee, Jasper) and DT John Henderson (University of Tennessee, Nashville) … Six Titans have ties to the state of Florida: DE Kevin Carter (University of Florida, Tallahassee), TE Erron Kinney (University of Florida), CB Samari Rolle (Florida State), DE Jevon Kearse (University of Florida, Fort Myers), CB Tony Beckham (Ocala) and G Zack Piller (University of Florida, Tallahassee) … Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin worked on the Philadelphia Eagles' coaching staff with Titans strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson in 1984 and '85 … Jaguars secondary coach Perry Fewell was the assistant head coach/secondary coach at Vanderbilt from 1995 to '97 … Titans assistant head coach/offense George Henshaw coached at Florida State from 1976 to '82 … Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger was the WR coach at Florida from 1983 to '87 and a graduate assistant in 1980 … Jaguars QB Mark Brunell played at Green Bay with Titans P Craig Hentrich in 1993 and '94 … Players who were college teammates include: Jaguars DT Larry Smith and Titans CB Samari Rolle at Florida State; Jaguars RB Fred Taylor with Titans G Zack Pillar, TE Erron Kinney and DE Jevon Kearse at Florida; Jaguars G Brad Meester and Titans WR Eddie Berlin at Northern Iowa; Jaguars SS Donovin Darius and Titans LB Keith Bulluck at Syracuse; Jaguars LB Eric Westmoreland and DT John Henderson with Titans DT Albert Haynesworth at Tennessee; Jaguars G/OT Zach Wiegert and Titans C Aaron Graham at Nebraska; and Jaguars LB Bobby Brooks and Titans QB Billy Volek at Fresno State.
JAGUARS VS. TITANS: Here are the accumulated statistics for players in the Jaguars-Titans series:
Jaguars QB Mark Brunell – 13 games (11 starts, 6-5); 205 completions in 334 attempts for 2,393 yards, 10 TDs, 13 INTs; 54 rushes for 275 yards, 1TD
Jaguars RB Fred Taylor — 6 games; 111 rushes for 438 yards, 3 TDs; 17 catches for 103 yards, 1 TD
Jaguars WR Jimmy Smith – 14 games; 61 receptions for 922 yards, 2 TDs, with 5 100-yard games
Titans QB Steve McNair — 9 games; 159 completions in 262 attempts for 2,105 yards, 13 TDs, 7 INTs; 54 rushes for 339 yards, 2 TDs
Titans RB Eddie George — 12 games; 235 rushes for 903 yards, 5 TDs
Titans TE Frank Wycheck — 15 games; 53 receptions for 516 yards, 3 TDs
Titans CB Samari Rolle — 8 games; has 7 of his 14 interceptions against the Jaguars
INJURY UPDATE: Players injured in the Eagles game were: LB Edward Thomas (hamstring), WR Micah Ross (hamstring) and CB Fernando Bryant (ankle). The status of all players will be updated during the week.
ROSTER MOVES: The Jaguars received a one-game roster exemption for LB T.J. Slaughter, who was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's policy on anabolic steroids and illegal substances.
LAST WEEK: The Jaguars defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 28-25 at ALLTEL Stadium. The Jaguars took a 28-10 lead late in the fourth quarter and held off the Eagles, who scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes to make the score close. Philadelphia dominated the statistics, gaining 406 yards and 28 first downs to Jacksonville's 267 yards and 16 first downs and controlling the clock for 34:58. But the Jaguars were opportunistic and trailed for only 2 minutes of the game. Following two short field goals by Hayden Epstein and then a go-ahead touchdown by the Eagles, the Jaguars struck back for the go-ahead touchdown on a two-yard pass from Mark Brunell to Kyle Brady (and then were successful on a two-point conversion). The Eagles closed the gap to 14-10, before the Jaguars pulled away. Stacey Mack scored on a one-yard run, and after the Jaguars forced the Eagles to punt on the ensuing possession, Bobby Shaw returned the kick 69 yards for a touchdown and a 28-10 lead with 6:23 to play. The Jaguars rushed for only 70 yards, with Fred Taylor carrying 21 times for 48 yards.
NOTES FROM THE EAGLES GAME: The Jaguars have scored 23 or more points in all four games this season. Last year they did so only four times. … Against NFC teams, the Jaguars are 15-13. … They have had seven goal-to-go possessions in 2002 and have scored touchdowns on all seven of them. They have also scored points in all 12 trips inside their opponents' 20 yard-line this season (eight TDs). … Both teams converted two-point conversions. In eight seasons, the Jaguars are 16 for 23 (70 percent), and their opponents are 6 for 22 (27 percent). … The Jaguars converted only 2 of 11 third downs (18 percent), while the Eagles converted 7 of 17 (41 percent). … The 406 yards allowed were the most by a Jaguars opponent since 409 by Tennessee on 10/16/00, and the Eagles' 199 rushing yards were the fourth most allowed by Jacksonville.The Eagles' 83 plays were the second most by an opponent, and the Jaguars' 51 plays tied their fourth fewest ever. … The Eagles' 28 first downs tied for the second most ever allowed by the Jaguars. … The Jaguars had no turnovers and no takeaways and are still plus-five for the season. … The Eagles' 199 yards rushing were the most against the Jaguars since Pittsburgh's 209 on 10/1/00, and their 48 passes were the most since Miami's 49 on 10/12/98 (Cincinnati also had 48 attempts in 2001). … Mark Brunell completed 13 of 23 passes for 197 yards, with one TD and no interceptions for a passer rating of 99.4. … Jimmy Smith led the team with four receptions and 91 yards. He became the 26th player in NFL history to make 600 receptions. … Kyle Brady's 32-yard reception was the third longest of his career. … Chris Hanson punted five times for a 44.6-yard average, with one touchback and one inside the 20. He had three punts returned for 40 yards for a net average of 32.6. … Bobby Shaw's 69-yard punt return for a touchdown was the third-longest in Jaguars history and the third TD on a punt return ever (Reggie Barlow did it twice, on 9/13/98 vs. Kansas City and 11/21/99 vs. New Orleans). … PK Hayden Epstein scored a career-high eight points on two extra points and 2 of 2 field goals (34 and 31 yards, the longest of his career). … The team got a season-high five sacks, their most since 10/28/01 at Baltimore. No. 1 pick DT John Henderson made his first NFL start and got three sacks, the first of his career tying the team's single-game record set by Kelvin Pritchett on October 12, 1997 vs. Cincinnati. … SS Donovin Darius led the team with 12 tackles (7 solo), followed by LB Eric Westmoreland with 11 tackles (4 solo). … Every player saw action except backup QB David Garrard. The inactive players were: CB Robert Bean, RB Dan Alexander, LB Bobby Brooks, G Daryl Terrell, C/G Drew Inzer, DT Larry Smith, DT Clenton Ballard and QB Kent Graham (third QB). … Jaguars captains were: QB Mark Brunell, TE Kyle Brady, DE Marco Coleman and S Donovin Darius.
FROM COACH TOM COUGHLIN ON THE EAGLES GAME: (on the victory) "We talked about defining the moment. It was a playoff atmosphere, and we had a tremendous crowd. Everybody was excited. It was packed and noisy and people were into it. Our stadium rocks and rolls when the crowd is going, and the players feed off that. That was a big factor. To win a game like that, with that crowd, against a team that many thought would be the NFC representative to the Super Bowl, that is a big boost for our team. It was an inspired win, with guys playing their hearts out."
"It wasn't pretty, but we won the game. Just find a way to win. We couldn't get the running going, and we had trouble up front. They put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. We thought we would start out and could throw the ball, but they got pressure on us and we couldn't get the ball thrown some of the time. The key in football is turnovers and don't penalize yourself, and we were able to do that again. We didn't have many stats today. We couldn't get the running game going, couldn't get any consistency out of it. And we did not convert in the passing game. They got a lot of yardage on the ground. The quarterback scrambled for a ton of their yards."
(on the team coming together so quickly in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year) "You have to believe that is the case. We're still a work in progress. This team has to understand that. It's early, and we're excited about being 3-1. I told the players to be inspired by the win and to be inspired to play at the next higher level, and that's where we stand."
FROM QB MARK BRUNELL: (on the game) "It was a big win over a good football team. They did two things: They stopped the run and they covered Jimmy (Smith). That is one of the toughest defenses we'll face all year. They have some good players over there. We were patient. We didn't make mistakes, we had a few big plays that helped us, a long play to Jimmy. The defense played great, special teams obviously played well. It was a full team win."
"I was telling Bobby Shaw after the game that his punt return was probably one of the biggest plays in our history. The timing, considering the opponent and the situation we were in this year, that was one of the biggest plays we've had in our history. It was exciting. This game was big for this team — it just remains to be seen how big."
(on Fred Taylor) "With a running back like Fred Taylor, it just takes one big play for him to turn nothing into something and we count on that. We didn't get that big one today, but I was very pleased."
FROM DT JOHN HENDERSON: (on getting three sacks in his first start) "I'm really excited right now, excited, excited to win — that's the important thing. It was just exciting to go out there and start. I like just being out there playing and doing my job."
(on how others will look at the Jaguars as a team after this win) "We're just developing every day, and we're just trying to get better and make each other better. The best thing about it is that we were together as a team. We play as a unit on both sides of the ball."
FROM CB FERNANDO BRYANT: (on the upcoming schedule, with five of seven games on the road) "It's a challenge because you have to win on the road. You have to win at home, but you've got to win some games on the road to be a good team in this league. And if we could do that starting next week and get one, it would be a good start."
FROM DE MARCO COLEMAN: (on the defensive performance against Philadelphia) "I thought we did OK, except at the end we gave up a lot of yards. But we did what we had to do; we held them and we got some points, offensively and with special teams. Special teams really helps the defense. The offense can control the ball and put some points up on the board without having our backs up against the wall."
FROM WR JIMMY SMITH: (on team's unity) "You know about last year's club. We had Tony Boselli out and we had Fred Taylor out. It's hard to win when you go into a game and everybody knows that you are going to come out and just throw the ball and (they can) drop into coverage. This year, the key is that we have a lot of guys that are healthy, and we don't have many injuries, knock on wood. The offensive line is playing superb, and hopefully that will continue. We're at the stage where we are just getting better, each week we're getting better, and we believe now that we can win."
NEXT WEEK: The Jaguars will be back on the road, as they travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, October 20 at Ravens Stadium. The two teams have met 12 times, with the Jaguars holding an 8-4 lead in the series (Jacksonville also won two games in Cleveland in 1995 before the franchise moved to Baltimore). The Ravens, however, have won the last four games, including 18-17 and 24-21 last season. This year, Baltimore is 2-2 and in first place in the AFC North.
JAGUARS HAVE FOURTH-BEST HOME RECORD AND BEST ROAD RECORD SINCE 1996: After the Jaguars went 7-1 at ALLTEL Stadium four times from 1996 to '99, they have a 37-14 record that is tied for the fourth-best mark at home since the start of the 1996 season. On the road, the Jaguars have the best record (one game ahead of the New York Jets) and they are one of only five NFL teams with a better-than-.500 mark on the road dating back to November 24, 1996.
JAGUARS HAVE BALANCED OFFENSE... Although the Jaguars are often referred to as a passing team, in reality they have a balanced attack that features the run. In the last five seasons, the Jaguars have rushed for 8,366 yards on the ground, the sixth most in the NFL. They were the only team to have more than 2,000 yards rushing each of the three seasons from 1998 to 2000 (an injury to Fred Taylor held them to 1,600 rushing yards in 2001). And, over the past seven seasons, the Jaguars have the sixth-most passing yards in the NFL. Here are the teams with the most total passing yards from 1996 through 2002:
JAGUARS SCORE ON THE GROUND… In the last six seasons, the Jaguars have rushed for 95 touchdowns, the second most in the NFL.
… AND STOP THEIR OPPONENTS: In the last seven seasons, the Jaguars have allowed only 65 rushing TDs, the NFL's fifth-best mark.
THE TAYLOR-MACK ONE-TWO PUNCH: In the offseason, faced with a contract offer from another team, RB Stacey Mack re-signed with the Jaguars — even though he knew he would be Fred Taylor's backup — because he felt the Jaguars would have the one of the best running back duos in the NFL. Through four games, the statistics seem to prove just that. The duo has combined for 488 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.
Against the New York Jets on September 29, Taylor and Mack accounted for 212 yards rushing, more than any other duo in a single game in Jaguars history. The two also accounted for 318 yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving), and their four combined touchdowns was also the most for a duo.
This season, the Jaguars rank ninth in the NFL in rushing. Taylor has 387 yards and three touchdowns, and Mack has 101 yards and four touchdowns. In his last 16 starts dating back to mid-2000, Taylor has 11 100-yard games and 16 touchdowns (14 rushing). And, in his 44 career games played, Taylor has scored 40 touchdowns and turned in 20 100-yard outings. Mack, meanwhile, had three 100-yard games in his last four starts in 2001, and he has 13 touchdowns in his last 15 games.
TAYLOR HAS SEVENTH-MOST TOUCHDOWNS LAST FIVE YEARS: Despite missing 24 full games and parts of nine others, Jaguars RB Fred Taylor has the seventh-most touchdowns over the last five seasons among active players.
THE BRUNELL AND SMITH CONNECTION: Mark Brunell and Jimmy Smith have already connected on one touchdown this season, giving the tandem 39 scores in eight seasons, ranking second among active players.
SMITH RANKS 25TH AMONG ALL-TIME RECEIVERS: Jaguars WR Jimmy Smith is in 25th place on the NFL's all-time receiving list, and he ranks 38th in career receiving yards. Smith has 602 career receptions for 8,548 yards. Over the six years from 1996 to 2001, Smith averaged 94 receptions and 1,329 yards per season, and another year like that would put him among the top 20 in both receptions and yards.
... AND SMITH LEADS ALL RECEIVERS IN YARDAGE: Over the last seven seasons, Jaguars WR Jimmy Smith has amassed more receiving yardage than any receiver in the NFL.
SMITH HAS MORE RECEPTIONS THAN 14 OF 19 HALL OF FAME RECEIVERS: Even though he is in only his eighth season as a Jaguar, Jimmy Smith already has more receptions and receiving yards than 14 of the 19 receivers who have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
SMITH HAS SIX STRAIGHT 1,000-YARD SEASONS: Jaguars WR Jimmy Smith has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark receiving six straight seasons, a feat accomplished by only four other players in NFL history. Currently, he ranks fifth all time behind Jerry Rice (11 straight 1,000-yard seasons), Tim Brown (9 straight), Cris Carter (8 straight) and Lance Alworth (7 straight).
BRUNELL'S TOUCHDOWN TARGETS: Mark Brunell has thrown 130 TD passes in eight seasons with the Jaguars. Here are the 20 players who have caught them: Jimmy Smith (39), Keenan McCardell (26), Damon Jones (11), Willie Jackson (10), Pete Mitchell (8), Kyle Brady (6), James Stewart (5), Fred Taylor (4), Ernest Givins (3), Cedric Tillman (3), Alvis Whitted (3), Andre Rison (2), Elvis Joseph (2), Patrick Johnson (2), Derek Brown (1), Ty Hallock (1), Desmond Howard (1), Natrone Means (1), R. Jay Soward (1), Stacey Mack (1).
BRUNELL AND McNAIR HAVE EIGHTH-BEST WINNING PERCENTAGE: Jaguars QB Mark Brunell and Titans QB Steve McNair are tied with the eighth-best career winning percentage of active quarterbacks (minimum 20 wins). Also, in the last eight seasons, Brunell has the most victories of any quarterback other than Green Bay's Brett Favre.
JAGUARS AMONG THE LEAGUE LEADERS: Through five weeks, the Jaguars rank ninth in the NFL in total offense (9th rushing, 15th passing), and they are 23rd in defense (25th rushing and 17th passing). They have allowed 72 points, an average of 18.0 per game that is the second best in the AFC. … The Jaguars lead the AFC in passing yards per net play, lowest interception percentage, fourth down efficiency and gross punting average. … The offense is 11th in the AFC with 18.5 first downs per game and ninth in the conference in third-down percentage (21 of 52, 40.4 percent). The defense is 10th in allowing 20.5 first downs a game and is 15th in the AFC in opponent's third-down conversions (27 of 57, 47.4 percent). … The Jaguars are plus-five on the turnover table, tied for second in the AFC. … The Jaguars are fourth in the AFC with a 66.7 percent rate on scoring touchdowns inside the red zone (8 of 12). Defensively, the Jaguars are tied for seventh in the AFC with opponents scoring touchdowns on 50.0 percent of red zone opportunities (7 of 14). … QB Mark Brunell is third in the AFC in passing with a 101.3 passer rating. He leads the NFL with an average gain of 8.35 yards per pass and tops the AFC with only one interception. … RB Stacey Mack is tied for 11th in the AFC with four touchdowns, and RB Fred Taylor is tied for 14th with three. … PK Hayden Epstein is 12th among AFC kickers in scoring with 22 points. He is third in the AFC with seven touchbacks on kickoffs. … RB Fred Taylor ranks fifth in the AFC with 387 rushing yards. RB Stacey Mack is 21st in the AFC in rushing with 101 yards. … WR Jimmy Smith is tied for 28th in the AFC in receiving with 18 receptions, and Fred Taylor is tied for 43rd with 15 catches. Smith's 288 receiving yards is 18th in the AFC, and WR Patrick Johnson is 33rd with 190 yards. … Taylor ranks fifth in the AFC with 577 yards from scrimmage. … Chris Hanson is second in the AFC in gross punting (47.5) and fourth in net punting (37.6). … Bobby Shaw leads the NFL with a 15.2-yard average on punt returns. … S Marlon McCree's two interceptions is tied for fifth in the AFC. … DT John Henderson's three sacks is tied for ninth in the AFC.
STATS AND SUCH: There are 22 new players on the Jaguars' roster: seven of the nine draft choices (DT John Henderson, OT Mike Pearson, LB Akin Ayodele, QB David Garrard, TE Chris Luzar, DT Clenton Ballard and PK Hayden Epstein), three unrestricted free agents (WR Patrick Johnson, G Chris Naeole and WR Bobby Shaw), six veteran free agents (LB Bobby Brooks, DE Marco Coleman, DE Stalin Colinet, QB Kent Graham, TE Pete Mitchell and G Daryl Terrell), one first-year free agent (WR Jimmy Redmond), two trade acquisitions (CB Ike Charlton and LB Wali Rainer) and three waiver pickups (RB Dan Alexander, CB Robert Bean and C/G Drew Inzer). Jacksonville opened the season with 10 new starters: C John Wade, RG Chris Naeole, WR Patrick Johnson, LDE Marco Coleman, DTs Larry Smith and Marcus Stroud, SLB Danny Clark, MLB Wali Rainer, WLB Eric Westmoreland and RCB Jason Craft (Zach Wiegert also moved from RG to LT). There were no rookies in the starting lineup on Opening Day for the first time since 1997, although Ayodele has started two games at strongside linebacker and DT John Henderson started the last game.
Mark Brunell is 60-43 in 102 regular-season starts, 64-47 overall. He has won more games under head coach Tom Coughlin than any current NFL quarterback under his head coach. … The offense has used two different starting lineup combinations in four games, and the defense has used three different starting combinations in four games. … The Jaguars have had six plays of 30 or more yards so far this season. They had only 11 plays of 30-plus yards in 2001, 26 in 2000, 23 in 1999, 29 in 1998, 22 in 1997, 26 in 1996 and 12 in 1995. The Jaguars have allowed only two 30-plus plays this season… Of the Jaguars' 70 completed passes, 35 have been to wide receivers, 18 to tight ends and 17 to running backs. … The Jaguars are 5 for 5 on fourth-down conversions this season; their opponents are 3 for 7. … On 12 drives inside the opponent's 20, the Jaguars have scored 8 touchdowns and 4 field goals. Their opponents have had 13 trips inside the red zone and have come away with 8 touchdowns and 2 field goals (and 3 drives with no points). … Jaguars opponents have begun 9 possessions inside their own 20 and they scored on 3 of those drives (2 TDs and 1 FG). The Jaguars have begun 10 possessions inside their own 20 and scored on 2 of those drives (1 TD, 1 FG). … The Jaguars used turnovers to score 37 points, while their opponents scored 14 points off Jaguars' turnovers. … In eight seasons, the Jaguars are 16 for 23 on two-point conversions (2 for 2 in 2002), while their opponents are 6 for 22 (1 for 1 in 2002). … In eight seasons, the Jaguars have a winning record in every month except October (they are .500 in January). They are 1-0 in August, 16-13 in September, 13-16 in October, 17-10 in November, 17-11 in December and 1-1 in January. … In 2002, the Jaguars have outscored their opponents in the second quarter (34-20), third quarter (24-10) and fourth quarter (36-32) and are tied in the first quarter (10-10).
The average age of the 53-man roster as of October 7 is 25.88 years old. … There are 28 players 25 or younger, 19 players between 26 and 29 years old, and seven players 30 or older. The youngest player is PK Hayden Epstein (21 years, 11 months); the oldest player is QB Kent Graham (33 years, 11 months). … More than two-thirds of the players (37) have four years or less of NFL experience, and seven players are in their eighth season or more. … The Jaguars have eight players who were first-round selections in the college draft, including five of their own picks: DE Marco Coleman (1992, Dolphins), TE Kyle Brady (1995, N.Y. Jets), G Chris Naeole (1997, Saints), RB Fred Taylor (1998, Jaguars), S Donovin Darius (1998, Jaguars), CB Fernando Bryant (1999, Jaguars), DT Marcus Stroud (2001, Jaguars) and DT John Henderson (2002, Jaguars). … WR Jimmy Smith has played in 115 of the 116 games in Jaguars history. Of this year's players, next are QB Mark Brunell (106) and DE Tony Brackens (91). … The longest streak of consecutive starts is held by G Brad Meester (36), followed by TE Kyle Brady (34) and WR Jimmy Smith (27). … Five players have played in 100 or more games during their careers: DE Marco Coleman (159), WR Jimmy Smith (122), TE Kyle Brady (112), QB Mark Brunell (108) and TE Pete Mitchell (102). … Coleman leads with 157 career starts, followed by TE Kyle Brady (106) and QB Mark Brunell (103).