THIS WEEK: The Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Buffalo Bills in their 2003 home opener at 1:00 p.m. Sunday at ALLTEL Stadium. The Jaguars are coming off a heartbreaking 24-23 last-minute loss to the Carolina Panthers last Sunday in their season opener. They have a 6-2 record in home openers in their first eight seasons and look to even their record for the season. The Bills are 1-0 after shutting out the New England Patriots 31-0.
The "New Era" Jaguars have 26 new players on their 53-man opening day roster, and the team had 11 new starters in the opening game (as well as a new placekicker). The new players include four unrestricted free agents (including stars Hugh Douglas and Mike Peterson), seven veteran free agents, one trade acquisition, one waiver pickup, all nine draft choices and four undrafted rookies (the most ever for a Jaguars opening day roster).
JAGUARS ON THE AIR THIS WEEK:
Monday — Jaguars Reporters, 6:00 p.m., WOKV Radio, with Brian Sexton, Vic Ketchman
Monday — The Jack Del Rio Show, 7:30 p.m., WTEV Ch. 47
Tuesday — The Jack Del Rio Show, 6:00 p.m., WOKV Radio
Wednesday — Jaguars This Week, 6:00 p.m., WOKV Radio
Thursday — THE Jaguars Show, 10:30 p.m., WAWS Ch. 30
TICKET INFORMATION: Tickets are still available. Fans can call 1-877-4-JAGS-TIX or (904) 633-2000 or buy tickets online at www.jaguars.com
THE OPPONENT: A charter member of the American Football League in 1960, the Bills won AFL championships in 1964 and '65 and lost in the 1966 league title game. From 1967 to 1987, they made the playoffs only three times. They advanced to the playoffs in 1988 and '89, then went to the Super Bowl four consecutive seasons from 1990 to '93. The Bills advanced to the playoffs in 1998 and '99 as Wild-Card teams. In 2002, the Bills finished 8-8 and in fourth place in the AFC East, although they were only one game out of first place.
THE SERIES: This will be the fourth regular-season meeting between the two teams, with the Bills holding a 2-1 series lead (the Jaguars also won a 1996 Wild-Card Playoff game). In the first meeting on December 28, 1996, playing in their first postseason game ever, the Jaguars upset the Bills 30-27. On December 14, 1997 the Jaguars defeated the Bills 20-14; on October 18, 1998, the Bills defeated the Jaguars 17-16; and in the only game played in Jacksonville, the Bills won 13-10 on October 18, 2001.
THE LAST TIME: The Jaguars lost their third consecutive game of the season 13-10 to the Buffalo Bills on October 18, 2001 when Jake Arians hit on a 46-yard field goal with 1:03 remaining. It marked the team's second straight home loss and dropped them to 2-3 for the year. The Jaguars' only scores came on a 20-yard pass from Mark Brunell to Kyle Brady and a 41-yard field goal by Mike Hollis in the second half following a first half in which Jacksonville gained only 69 yards on offense. The Jaguars' defense allowed only one touchdown and 317 yards. But the Jacksonville offense gained only 247 yards. Trailing 3-0 at halftime (the Bills missed two field goals), the Jaguars scored a touchdown on the first possession of the third quarter. However, Buffalo, quarterbacked by former Jaguar Rob Johnson, struck back with a TD to maintain a 10-7 lead. Early in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars faced a 4th-and-1 at the Buffalo 10-yard line but decided to attempt a game-tying field goal. However, Joe Zelenka's high snap was mishandled by holder Chris Hanson and Jacksonville lost a scoring opportunity. Minutes later, a Hanson punt backed the Bills to their own four-yard line and they went three-and-out and kicked a 28-yard punt. The Jaguars gained only six yards on three plays and Hollis kicked a 41-yard field goal to tie the game with 4:00 remaining. The Bills then drove 48 yards for the game-winning points. On Jacksonville's final possession, Brunell was intercepted with 44 seconds left.
A JAGUARS VICTORY OVER THE BILLS WOULD: Give them a 1-1 record in 2003 and their first victory under new head coach Jack Del Rio. It would also give them a 2-2 mark against the Bills and would be their seventh victory in home openers in nine seasons.
INJURY UPDATE: The only player injured in the Carolina game was WR Micah Ross (ankle). Missing the game because of injuries were: MLB T.J. Slaughter (ankle), DB James Trapp (ankle) and DE Brandon Green (quadriceps). The status of all injured players will be updated on Wednesday.
THE COACHES: Jack Del Rio was named Jaguars head coach on January 17, 2003, becoming the second head coach in Jaguars' history. At 40, Del Rio is the second youngest head coach in the NFL (four months older than Jon Gruden). Del Rio spent 11 years as an NFL linebacker and had a standout college career at the University of Southern California. He previously coached in New Orleans (1997-98), Baltimore (1999-2001), and Carolina (2002). He was the Panthers' defensive coordinator, and in his only season with the club the defense improved from 31st in the NFL to second, the biggest one season defensive improvement in NFL history. Del Rio was the linebackers coach for three seasons in Baltimore, where the Ravens' defense also ranked second each season. He helped the team win Super Bowl XXXV over the New York Giants and coached the Ravens' talented linebackers, overseeing the development of Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper and Ray Lewis, the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV. Prior to coaching, Del Rio played 11 seasons in the NFL, with New Orleans (1985-86), Kansas City (1987-88), Dallas (1989-1991) and Minnesota (1992-95), playing in the Pro Bowl following the 1994 season. Del Rio was a starter at linebacker for Southern California (1981-84), where he earned All-America honors, was a runner-up for the Lombardi Award and co-MVP of the 1985 Rose Bowl. Del Rio has learned from some of the best coaches in all of football. He was recruited to USC and played for John Robinson, and in the NFL he played under Bum Phillips, Jim Mora, Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Green. As an assistant coach, he has worked for Hall of Famer Mike Ditka and Super Bowl winner Brian Billick, as well as John Fox. Drafted by baseball's Toronto Blue Jays, Del Rio batted .340 while playing catcher on USC's baseball team in 1983 and 1984 with future stars Randy Johnson and Mark McGwire. He was a third-round choice by the New Orleans Saints in 1985 and was named to the NFL's All-Rookie team.
Under Gregg Williams' direction, the 2002 Bills executed a five-game turnaround from the previous year, matching the best one-year improvement in team history. In 2001, Williams' Bills faced numerous injuries and struggled to a 3-13 record. For Williams it was his first opportunity as a head coach after spending the previous 11 seasons with the Tennessee organization, including the last four as the Titans' defensive coordinator. Under his leadership in 2000, the Titans' defensive unit led the league in total defense for the first time, and the 191 points allowed were the third fewest in the NFL since the league adopted a 16-game schedule in 1978. Williams spent three seasons (1994-96) overseeing the Oilers' linebackers after spending the 1993 campaign as Houston's special teams coach. From 1990-92, he served as the club's first quality control coordinator. Williams played football (quarterback) and baseball at Northeast Missouri State (1976-78). He began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Excelsior Springs (Mo.) High School from 1980 to '83. He served as head coach at Belton (Mo.) High School from 1984 to '87. Williams was a graduate assistant working with the linebackers at the University of Houston (1988-89) for former Oilers head coach Jack Pardee.
JACKSONVILLE-BUFFALO CONNECTIONS: There are four former Jaguars on the Bills: OT Marcus Price, an original Jaguar and sixth-round draft choice from 1995; TE Ryan Neufeld, who was a Jaguar in 2000; LB Jeff Posey, who was with the Jaguars in 2001, and WR Bobby Shaw, who played for the Jaguars a year ago. … There are no former Bills on the Jaguars. … Bills offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride held the same position with the Jaguars in 1995 and '96. … Jaguars S Donovin Darius played college football at Syracuse. … College teammates include: Jaguars DT John Henderson and LB Eric Westmoreland with Bills RBs Philip Crosby and Travis Henry and LB Dominique Stevenson at Tennessee ... Jaguars TE Kyle Brady and Bills FB Sam Gash at Penn State ... Jaguars RB LaBrandon Toefield and Bills WR Josh Reed at Louisiana State ... Jaguars OT Maurice Williams and Bills TE Mark Campbell at Michigan ... Jaguars DT Marcus Stroud and Bills OT Jonas Jennings at Georgia ... Jaguars LB Danny Clark and Bills OT Marques Sullivan at Illinois ... Jaguars LB Keith Mitchell played at different times with Bills DTs Sam Adams and Pat Williams at Texas A&M ... Jaguars TE Chris Luzar and Bills LB Angelo Crowell at Virginia ... Jaguars LB T.J. Slaughter and Bills LB Jeff Posey at Southern Mississippi ... Jaguars DE Rob Meier and Bills PK Rian Lindell at Washington State.
JAGUARS VS. BILLS: Here are the accumulated statistics for players in the Jaguars-Bills series:
Jaguars QB Mark Brunell — 4 games; 74 completions in 119 attempts, 62.2%, 825 yards, 2 TD, 5 INTs; Rushing: 17-90 yards, 1 TD
Bills QB Drew Bledsoe (all games with Patriots) — 3 games; 73 completions in 112 attempts, 65.2%, 667 yards, 3 TD, 2 INTs
Bills WR Eric Moulds — 3 games; 14 receptions for 208 yards, 2 TDs
LAST WEEK: The Jaguars were defeated by the Carolina Panthers 24-23 at Ericsson Stadium, when Jake Delhomme threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl with 16 seconds left in the game. The Jaguars' Seth Marler attempted a 55-yard field goal on the final play, but the kick was blocked and the team lost on opening day for only the third time in nine seasons. Mark Brunell had one of the finest performances of his career, completing 23 of 27 passes for 272 yards, and the Jaguars jumped out to a 17-0 lead early in the fourth quarter before the Panthers fought back. After a scoreless first period between two stout defenses, the Jaguars opened the scoring on Marc Edwards' two-yard TD plunge. On the final play before halftime, Brunell connected with Matthew Hatchette on a 33-yard TD pass, and the Jaguars added a field goal on their first possession of the third quarter. Then Carolina scored 18 straight points, including a safety when Chris Hanson's punt was blocked and he kicked the ball out of the end zone. Trailing 18-17 with 6:10 to play, Brunell then hooked up with Jermaine Lewis on a 65-yard scoring pass for a 23-18 lead. The Panthers then drove 54 yards for the game-winning score. Statistically, the Jaguars dominated with 331 yards to Carolina's 242 (only 36 in the first half) and Jacksonville controlled the clock for 33:23. But the Panthers had 210 yards on punt and kickoff returns and blocked two kicks to earn the victory.
NOTES FROM THE PANTHERS GAME: The Jaguars fell to 6-3 on opening day. … The Jaguars and Panthers each had 17 first downs, and the Jaguars had two takeaways and only one turnover. The Jaguars converted 4 of 13 third downs (31 percent), while the Panthers were 4 of 14 (29 percent). … QB Mark Brunell completed 13 consecutive passes in the game, tying his team record set on 10/6/96 at New Orleans (Brunell's first incompletion after the streak was on a pass he threw away after being flushed out of the pocket). … RB Fred Taylor rushed 22 times for 71 yards and caught five passes for 51 yards, for 122 total yards from scrimmage. … Marc Edwards' touchdown was the first by a Jaguars fullback since Daimon Shelton in 1998 and only the third rushing TD by a fullback ever (also: Ryan Christopherson in 1995). It was just the third rushing TD of Edwards' seven-year career. … WR J.J. Stokes led the team with six receptions for 42 yards. … Chris Hanson punted seven times for a 46.7-yard average, with no touchbacks, none inside the 20, and a long of 58. He had six kicks returned for 102 yards and a net average of 28.1. His blocked punt was the first of his career and the first in Jaguars history. … Making interceptions were LB Akin Ayodele (second of career) and S Rashean Mathis (first of career). … Ayodele and MLB Mike Peterson led the team with eight tackles each. … The Jaguars made five sacks, two by DE Tony Brackens (giving him 51 for his career, extending his team record), and one each by Ayodele, Hugh Douglas and John Henderson. They allowed four sacks. … Every player saw action except RB Joe Smith, DE Lionel Barnes and QB Byron Leftwich. The inactive players were: DB James Trapp, S David Young, RB Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, LB T.J. Slaughter, OT Marques Ogden, DT Matt Leonard, DE Brandon Green and QB David Garrard (third QB).
FROM COACH JACK DEL RIO ON THE PANTHERS GAME: "It's a 60-minute game, and when you play half the game, you run the risk of not having it finish the way you like. They deserved to win. We let them back in the game in the second half. It shows this is a 60-minute game."
(on the Jaguars' special teams) "Anytime you get outgained on special teams as badly as we did, that allows a team to stick around and take advantage of things. To lose by one, to have a shot at the end to kick a field goal and have that shot taken away by a block is very frustrating. Special teams was my No. 1 concern going into the game because I knew Carolina had talent. They really dominated that phase of the game. They basically mauled our special teams today. They're a good group, but we're not going to accept that as a reason not to get it done."
(on Mark Brunell) "Statistically, it looks really good. But quarterbacks are judged by wins and losses. We'd obviously like to have a win for the first game of this season. I thought he did some things well, and I thought he did some things I'd like to see better. But that's across the board, especially when you don't win."
(on the Jaguars' defense) "They ran the ball. Jake Delhomme made some plays late in the game, two touchdown passes, but really it was the running game that allowed them to stay in it. You cannot win in this league unless you stop the run, plain and simple."
FROM QB MARK BRUNELL: "We did have a lot of chances, and remained competitive throughout the game. There were some big plays on both sides of the ball. We just came up short. What matters is getting the win. We let them back in and they did what they had to do to win. We didn't execute well enough. It was a roller coaster. It shows every play counts. If you let one slip you can lose."
(on his performance) "It doesn't matter. All that matters is winning and we didn't do that."
NEXT WEEK: The Jaguars will travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts at 1:00 p.m. EDT September 21 in the RCA Dome. It will be the first game of the year between AFC South rivals who will play again on November 9 in Jacksonville. The Colts have never lost to the Jaguars and hold a 4-0 lead, the biggest edge in any series involving the Jaguars. The series began in 1995 with a 41-31 Colts win in Jacksonville. In 2002, the Colts handed the Jaguars one of their biggest losses ever 43-14. Last season, Indianapolis won 28-25 at ALLTEL Stadium and 20-13 in the season finale. The Colts won their 2003 season opener 9-6 over the Cleveland Browns.
OPENING DAY: The Jaguars have the NFL's second-best record on opening day (minimum five games), with a 6-3 mark (.667). Jacksonville had a six-game winning streak from 1996 to 2001 sandwiched between losses in 1995 and 2002-03. Only six NFL teams have ever had a longer winning streak on opening day than the Jaguars' six-game streak.
BRUNELL DOES IT AGAIN: Mark Brunell had a career performance in Sunday's opening day loss to the Panthers. Brunell completed 23 of 27 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. His 133.3 passer rating was the third-highest passer rating for a game in his career. In addition, Brunell completed 13 consecutive passes at one point in the game, tying his team record set on October 6, 1996 at New Orleans (Brunell's first incompletion after the streak was on a pass he threw away after being flushed out of the pocket).
THE TEAL IS REAL . . . In the last six seasons, the Jaguars' record is the 11th best in the NFL, 10 games behind the Green Bay Packers.
JAGUARS HAVE EIGHTH-BEST HOME RECORD AND FIFTH-BEST ROAD RECORD SINCE 1996: After the Jaguars went 7-1 at ALLTEL Stadium four times from 1996 to '99, they have a 38-18 record that is the eighth-best mark at home since the start of the 1996 season. On the road, the Jaguars have the fifth-best record and they are one of only six NFL teams with a better-than-.500 mark on the road dating back to November 24, 1996.
DOUGLAS IS EIGHTH-LEADING ACTIVE SACKER: Jaguars DE Hugh Douglas, the team's biggest offseason acquisition, ranks eighth among active players in sacks.
LEWIS APPROACHING PUNT RETURNS RECORDS: Jermaine Lewis signed with the Jaguars in the offseason as a veteran free agent and is the team's primary punt and kickoff returner. A veteran of seven NFL seasons with Baltimore, Houston and Jacksonville, he is approaching several NFL records.
- Has led the NFL in punt returns two times (1997, 2000), one short of the NFL record shared by Speedy Duncan and Rick Upchurch
- Has 3,047 career punt return yards, 554 yards short of third place on the NFL's all-time list
- Has six touchdowns on punt returns, two shy of tying for third place on the NFL's all-time list
- Ranks seventh among active players with an 11.3-yard average on punt returns
TAKEAWAYS/GIVEAWAYS 1993-2003: In the last 11 years, the Jaguars have the third-best takeaway/giveaway difference in the NFL, a plus-34 total (they have played only eight seasons).
JAGUARS HAVE BALANCED OFFENSE: In the last six seasons, the Jaguars have rushed for 9,989 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 they are one of only three teams to have rushed for 2,000 yards in four of the last five years.
And, over the past seven seasons, the Jaguars have the seventh-most passing yards in the NFL.
JAGUARS SCORE ON THE GROUND … In the last seven seasons, the Jaguars have rushed for 108 touchdowns, tied for the most in the NFL.
… AND STOP THEIR OPPONENTS: In the last seven seasons, the Jaguars have allowed only 79 rushing TDs, the NFL's fourth-best mark.
TAYLOR HAS SIXTH-MOST TOUCHDOWNS LAST FIVE YEARS: Despite missing 24 full games and parts of nine others, Jaguars RB Fred Taylor is tied with the sixth-most touchdowns over the last six seasons among active players.
BRUNELL HAS 11TH-BEST WINNING PERCENTAGE: Jaguars QB Mark Brunell has the 11th-best career winning percentage of active quarterbacks (minimum 20 wins). Brunell also owns the NFL's third-best record in divisional games (37-21, .638), and in the last eight seasons, he has the most victories of any quarterback other than Green Bay's Brett Favre.
BRUNELL'S TOUCHDOWN TARGETS: Mark Brunell has thrown 144 TD passes in eight seasons with the Jaguars. Here are the 24 players who have caught them: Jimmy Smith (44), Keenan McCardell (26), Damon Jones (11), Willie Jackson (10), Kyle Brady (9), Pete Mitchell (9), James Stewart (5), Fred Taylor (4), Ernest Givins (3), Cedric Tillman (3), Alvis Whitted (3), Andre Rison (2), Elvis Joseph (2), Patrick Johnson (2), Kevin Lockett (2), Derek Brown (1), Ty Hallock (1), Desmond Howard (1), Natrone Means (1), R. Jay Soward (1), Stacey Mack (1), Bobby Shaw (1), Matthew Hatchette (1) and Jermaine Lewis (1).
NEW FACES: There are 26 new faces among the 53 players on the Jaguars' current roster. Here is the breakdown.
Unrestricted Free Agents (4) — DE Hugh Douglas, FB Marc Edwards, LB Keith Mitchell, LB Mike Peterson
Veteran Free Agents (7) — DE Lionel Barnes, RB Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, WR Matthew Hatchette, WR/KR Jermaine Lewis, G Jamar Nesbit, WR J.J. Stokes, CB James Trapp
Trade (1) — S Anthony Mitchell
Waivers (1) — CB Brad Franklin
Draft Choices (9) — QB Byron Leftwich, DB Rashean Mathis, G Vince Manuwai, TE George Wrighster, RB LaBrandon Toefield, DE Brandon Green, S David Young, OT Marques Ogden, FB Malaefou MacKenzie
Undrafted Rookies (4) — WR Cortez Hankton, DT Matt Leonard, PK Seth Marler, RB Joe Smith
NEW STARTERS: The Jaguars' opening day roster included 11 new starters from a year ago:
2002 Starters 2003 New Starters
WR Jimmy Smith Matthew Hatchette
LT Mike Pearson
LG Brad Meester Vince Manuwai
C John Wade Brad Meester
RG Chris Naeole
RT Maurice Williams
TE Kyle Brady
WR Bobby Shaw J.J. Stokes
QB Mark Brunell
RB Fred Taylor
FB Patrick Washington Marc Edwards
LDE Marco Coleman Tony Brackens
LDT Marcus Stroud
RDT John Henderson
RDE Rob Meier/Paul Spicer Hugh Douglas
SLB Danny Clark Keith Mitchell
MLB Wali Rainer Mike Peterson
WLB T.J. Slaughter Akin Ayodele
LCB Fernando Bryant
RCB Jason Craft
SS Donovin Darius
FS Marlon McCree Rashean Mathis
P Chris Hanson
PK Danny Boyd Seth Marler
STATS AND SUCH: On opening day, LG Vince Manuwai and FS Rashean Mathis became the 11th and 12th rookies to start for the Jaguars in their first NFL game. … The four unrdrafted rookies who made the roster was a team record. … On one drive inside the opponent's 20, the Jaguars scored one touchdown. Their opening day opponent had two trips inside the red zone and came away with two touchdowns. … Jaguars opponents have begun no possessions inside their own 20, while the Jaguars began three possessions inside their own 20 and scored on none of those drives. … In nine seasons, the Jaguars are 17 for 27 on two-point conversions (0 for 1 in 2003), while their opponents are 7 for 25 (0 for 2 in 2003). … In nine seasons, the Jaguars have a winning record in every month except October (they are .500 in January). They are 1-0 in August, 16-14 in September, 13-19 in October, 19-12 in November, 18-15 in December and 1-1 in January. … In 2003, the Jaguars have outscored their opponents in the second quarter (14-0), are tied in the first quarter (0-0) and have been outscored in the third quarter (3-7) and fourth quarter (6-17).
Mark Brunell is 63-52 in 115 regular-season starts, 67-56 overall. … WR Jimmy Smith has played in 127 of the 129 games in Jaguars history. Of the current players, next are QB Mark Brunell (118) and DE Tony Brackens (93). … The longest streak of consecutive starts is held by C Brad Meester (49), followed by TE Kyle Brady (47). … Seven players have played in 100 or more games during their careers: CB James Trapp (144), WR Jimmy Smith (134), TE Kyle Brady (125), QB Mark Brunell (120), WR J.J. Stokes (112), DE Hugh Douglas (107) and WR/KR Jermaine Lewis (101). … Brady leads with 119 career starts, followed by Brunell (115) and Smith (106).