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It's up to the 'Big Three'


They are the three players on whom the Jaguars rested their hopes of being competitive in what most considered would be a rebuilding year. Two games into this season, the Jaguars' "Big Three" of Mark Brunell, Jimmy Smith and Fred Taylor have, in fact, carried this team.

Though the Jaguars are a mere 1-1, they have played considerably better than anyone expected, which has left their faithful to believe this team can contend for its division's title. If it can, it will depend solely on one fact: The "Big Three" must remain intact and play at a high level.

After two games, Brunell has a triple-digit passer rating and is beginning to express himself more as a leader and field general than he had at any previous time in his seven years as this team's starting quarterback. Sure, he had always been their most valuable player, but seldom were there examples of doing the little things he did last Sunday in Kansas City when he insisted on a specific play call on a fourth-and-five.

It was an example of the missing piece in Brunell's professional football career. He had always been a player of great ability, but some questioned his passion for the game. They wondered why Brunell's body language and sideline demeanor wasn't more forceful. Sunday in Kansas City, it was.

Taylor has rushed for 197 yards, a 4.5 yards-per-carry average, and two touchdowns. There's reason to believe he's better than ever, following a season lost to a severe groin injury. Taylor appears to have motive and opportunity to produce the kind of season that will get him the big contract he wants. Can he stay healthy? That's always been the big question.

Smith has 13 catches for 187 yards and one touchdown. He provided the turning-point play in Kansas City. There has been no decline in Smith's performance and it must remain that way.

Each member of the Jaguars' "Big Three" has a top-five AFC ranking in each of the categories considered to be most important to their position: Brunell is fifth in passer rating, Taylor is fifth in rushing yardage, and Smith is fifth in receiving yardage.

The Jaguars must develop players at other positions. As that process continues, the "Big Three" is saddled with the responsibility of keeping this team in the division title hunt.

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