THIS WEEK: Riding a six-game winning streak during the regular season - longest in the NFL - the Jacksonville Jaguars host the New York Giants in their 1997 home opener at 4:00 p.m. EDT Sunday in ALLTEL Stadium. Both teams won their season openers last week, with the Jaguars defeating the Baltimore Ravens 28-27 and the Giants winning over the Philadelphia Eagles 31-17. The Jaguars have also won eight of their last nine games at home dating back to the 1995 season finale, a record that is tied for third-best in the league in that time.
TELEVISION BROADCAST: The game will be televised regionally by FOX and locally by WAWS Channel 30. Kevin Harlan will call the play-by-play and former Oilers and Falcons head coach Jerry Glanville is the analyst.
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 will call the play-by-play and former NFL quarterback Matt Robinson will add analysis. Sexton and Robinson are in their third season together. Robinson, Jennifer Kumik, 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 29 affiliates in four states on the Jaguars Radio Network will also broadcast the game.
TICKET INFORMATION: A limited number of tickets starting at $20 are available. For information, call (904) 633-2000 or (800) 618-8005.
THE OPPONENT: The Giants are the fourth-oldest team in the NFL, having played their first game in 1925. They have won two Super Bowls (1986 and 1990) and four NFL championships, and they played in the NFL title game 11 other times. In 1996, the Giants finished 6-10, posting a losing record in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1982-83. They finished in last place in the NFC East for the first time in a non-strike season since 1983. The team's offense was last in the league in total offense, though the defense did hold the opposition to 10 points or fewer in six games.
A JAGUARS VICTORY OVER THE GIANTS WOULD: Give the Jaguars a 2-0 record for the first time in franchise history and their seventh consecutive victory during the regular season. It would also be their seventh straight win at home.
THE SERIES: This is the first game between the Jaguars and Giants and marks the first time the Jagurs have faced a team from the NFC Eastern Division during the regular season. The Jaguars and Giants have played twice during the preseason, with New York winning 24-17 in Jacksonville in 1996 and Jacksonville winning 38-16 at Giants Stadium on August 9.
THE LAST TIME: The Jaguars defeated the Giants 38-16 on August 9 in the game in which Jaguars QB Mark Brunell was injured (knee). Rob Johnson took over for Brunell midway through the second quarter and led the Jaguars to three touchdowns in four possessions as they won their second of four preseason games this year. Johnson completed 5 of 7 passes for 170 yards and two TDs, before giving way to Todd Philcox and Lance Funderburk, who each led touchdown-scoring drives in the fourth quarter.
JAGUARS INJURY UPDATE: Injured in the Baltimore game were: QB Rob Johnson (left ankle), RB Chris Parker (knee), CB Deon Figures (calf) and S Mike Logan (hamstring). Their status will be updated during the week. QB Mark Brunell (knee) did not make the trip, as his streak of 17 consecutive starts was snapped, nor did WR Will Moore (hamstring).
TIED FOR BEST IN THE NFL: The Jacksonville Jaguars are tied with the Green Bay Packers for the best record in the NFL dating back to last November 10 (regular-season and postseason games). The Jaguars' only two losses in their last 11 games were last November 17 at Pittsburgh and January 12 at New England in the AFC Championship game. Here's a look:
Team Reg. Season Postseason Total Jacksonville Jaguars 7-1 2-1 9-2
Green Bay Packers 6-2 3-0 9-2 Carolina Panthers 7-1 1-1 8-2 New England Patriots 6-2 2-1 8-3 Cincinnati Bengals 6-2 6-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-2 6-2 Denver Broncos 6-2 0-1 6-3 Dallas Cowboys 6-2 0-1 6-3
JOHNSON BY THE NUMBERS: Rob Johnson won his first NFL start last Sunday, quarterbacking the Jaguars to victory over the Baltimore Ravens despite playing with a badly sprained left ankle that forced him to leave the game twice. Johnson completed 20 of 24 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions and also ran for 31 yards and a touchdown in his first regular-season action since 1995. His 83.3 completion percentage was the best by a first-time starter since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. In three years, Johnson has played in a total of 11 games in the NFL - two in the regular season and nine in the preseason. Here's a look at his game-by-game statistics:
PRESEASON Date Opponent Att Cmp Yds Tkd/Yd TD Lg Int Rtg. Rush Yds Avg. Lg TD Aug. 4, 1995 at Miami 6 3 36 0/0 0 14 0 68.8 1 9 19.0 19 0 Aug. 2, 1996 vs. N.Y. Giants 13 8 85 1/3 0 49 0 80.6 1 6 16.0 16 0 Aug. 9, 1996 at St. Louis 10 8 70 3/19 0 15 0 95.8 0 0 0.0 0 0 Aug. 18, 1996 vs. San Francisco 7 6 101 1/7 0 42 0 118.8 1 7 7.0 7 1 Aug. 23, 1996 at Denver 13 8 80 1/7 3 19 0 118.6 0 0 0.0 0 0 Aug. 3, 1997 vs. Carolina 5 3 24 2/3 0 13 0 72.1 1 -5 -1.7 -1 0 Aug. 9, 1997 at N.Y. Giants 7 5 170 1/9 2 60 0 153.9 2 6 3.0 6 0 Aug. 18, 1997 at San Francisco 13 11 226 1/8 3 45 0 158.3 2 9 4.5 7 0 Aug. 22, 1997 vs. Atlanta 14 9 86 1/0 1 22 1 75.3 5 61 12.2 24 0 TOTALS 88 61 878 11/56 9 60 1 130.5 16 113 7.1 24 1
REGULAR SEASON Date Opponent Att Cmp Yds Tkd/Yd TD Lg Int Rtg. Rush Yds Avg. Lg TD Dec. 17, 1995 at Detroit 7 3 24 1/13 0 19 1 12.5 3 17 5.7 7 0 Aug. 31, 1997 at Baltimore 24 20 294 3/14 2 31 0 145.5 4 31 7.8 25 1 TOTALS 31 23 318 4/27 2 31 1 115.0 7 48 6.9 25 1
THE BRUNELL WATCH: QB Mark Brunell suffered partial tears of the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) and the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) as well as a tear of the MCL (medial collateral ligament) in his right knee on August 9 against the New York Giants. The ACL was mostly intact and slightly stretched. Brunell is undergoing rehab and no further surgery is expected on his knee. He is expected to return to play in approximately six weeks, which would put him on schedule to play in the October 12 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. HOTTER THAN HOT: Since moving into the starting lineup last November 24, Jimmy Smith has elevated himself into the top echelon of wide receivers in the NFL. In the six regular-season games in that time, Smith is tied for third in the NFL with 39 catches, and he has more yards and 100-yard games than any receiver in the league. Smith, who has four 100-yard games, has caught 39 passes for 659 yards - an average of 110 yards per game - and four touchdowns. In addition's Smith's 659 total yards from scrimmage in those six games ranks second in the NFL only to the Oilers' Eddie George, who has 704 yards (625 rushing and 79 receiving).
Vs. the NFL Name Team Rec Yds Avg TD 100+ Jerry Rice San Francisco 43 444 10.3 2 1 Herman Moore Detroit 41 495 12.1 3 2 Carl Pickens Cincinnati 41 542 13.2 9 2 Jimmy Smith Jacksonville 39 659 16.9 4 4 Cris Carter Minnesota 39 453 11.6 7 1
Game-by-game Date Opponent Rec Yds Avg. Lg TD Nov. 24, 1996 at Baltimore 8 131 16.4 39 0 Dec. 1, 1996 vs. Cincinnati 7 162 23.1 49 0 Dec. 8, 1996 at Houston 5 61 12.2 27 0 Dec. 15, 1996 vs. Seattle 8 124 15.5 39t 2 Dec. 22, 1996 vs. Atlanta 5 75 15.0 29 0 Aug. 31, 1997 at Baltimore 6 106 17.7 28t 2 TOTALS 39 659 16.9 49 4
Smith and teammate Keenan McCardell have been hot vs. NFC opponents. In the Jaguars' last three games vs. NFC teams, the duo has turned in these numbers: McCardell - 28 receptions, 365 yards, 0 TDs and Smith - 19 receptions, 201 yards, 0 TDs. And, in the last four games vs. the NFC, their performances were as follows: McCardell - 31 receptions, 432 yards, 0 TDs and Smith - 23 receptions, 265 yards, 1 TD. PRACTICE SCHEDULE: Practice and interview times this week are as follows:
Day Practice Coach Coughlin Players Tuesday No practice No availability No availability Wednesday 1:20 p.m. 12:15 p.m. 11:45 - 12:15 (conference calls with Jim Fassel and Dave Brown at 2:15 and 2:30, respectively) Thursday 1:20 p.m. 12:15 p.m. 11:45 - 12:15 Friday 12:20 p.m. No availability 11:45 - 12:15
THE COACHES: Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin led the Jaguars to the AFC Championship game in 1996, as the team finished the regular season with a 9-7 record and second place in the AFC Central Division. In the playoffs, the Jaguars upset the Bills and Broncos on the road before losing at New England. In 1995, Coughlin's Jaguars finished with four victories in their inaugural season. He became head coach of the Jaguars on February 21, 1994 following three successful seasons as head coach at Boston College. Coughlin 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 27 years of coaching, he was previously an NFL assistant coach with the New York Giants (wide receivers, 1988-90) and with the Green Bay Packers (wide receivers and passing game coordinator 1986-87) and Philadelphia Eagles (wide receivers, 1984-85). He has a record of 14-19 during the regular season and 2-1 in the postseason. Jim Fassel was named coach of the Giants on January 20, 1997. Fassel spent the previous season as offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals finished sixth in passing offense in 1996. Fassel returns to Giants Stadium, where he was quarterbacks coach (1991) and offensive coordinator (1992) for the Giants. He spent two seasons as the assistant head coach/offensive coordinator for Denver (1993-94). Under Fassel's tutoring, John Elway garnered the NFL most-valuable-player honors and set a Broncos' record with 4,030 passing yards in 1993. He also had groomed Elway at Stanford, where Fassel was the offensive coordinator (1979-1983). He spent the 1995 season as quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders before joining the Cardinals. Fassel was offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Breakers of the USFL (1984). He has a record of 1-0. JACKSONVILLE-NEW YORK GIANTS CONNECTIONS: The Jacksonville Jaguars have one former Giant on the roster: TE Derek Brown. Brown was a first round pick (14th overall) by the Giants in 1992 and he played in 45 games over three seasons before being chosen by the Jaguars in the 1995 expansion draft ... Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin was the Giants' receivers coach from 1988 to '90, and tight ends coach Fred Hoaglin was the Giants' offensive line coach from 1985 to '92. ... The Jaguars have one player from the state of New York, DT Seth Payne (Victor and Cornell) ... Jaguars C/G Greg Huntington was born in Morristown, N.J. ... Several members of the Jaguars' coaching staff are from New York and New Jersey: assistant special teams coach Joe Baker (Glen Ridge, N.J., raised in Hamilton, N.Y. and graduated from Princeton), wide receivers coach Pete Carmichael (born in Plainfield, N.J. and attended North Plainfield High), offensive line coach Mike Maser (born in Clayton, N.Y), special teams coordinator Larry Pasquale (born in Brooklyn) and strength and conditioning coach Jerry Palmieri (born in Englewood, N.J.). In addition, secondary coach Randy Edsall was a quarterback at Syracuse ... The Giants have three players from the state of Florida: DE Chad Bratzke (Brandon), DT Robert Harris (Riviera Beach) and QB Danny Kanell (Florida State and Ft. Lauderdale) ... Giants 1997 first round draft choice WR Ike Hilliard played at Florida and LB Jessie Armstead played college football at Miami ... Jaguars QB Mark Brunell and Giants TE Aaron Pierce played together on the University of Washington's 1991 national championship team ... Giants G Ron Stone played with Jaguars TE Pete Mitchell under Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin at Boston College ... Jaguars OT Tony Boselli, QB Rob Johnson and LB Jeff Kopp were teammates of Giants CB Jason Sehorn at Southern California ... Jaguars RB James Stewart and Giants LB Scott Gaylon and FB Eric Lane were teammates at Tennessee ... Giants OT Jerry Reynolds and Jaguars WR Keenan McCardell played together at Nevada-Las Vegas in 1990 ... Giants defensive backs coach Johnnie Lynn was linebackers coach at Arizona where he tutored Jaguars LB Brant Boyer, and TE Rich Griffith was also on the squad at Arizona ... Giants defensive line coach Denny Marcin coached Jaguars LB Kevin Hardy at Illinois. LAST WEEK: The Jaguars won their 1997 season opener 28-27 over the Ravens in Baltimore as Rob Johnson made his first NFL start and led Jacksonville to a come-from-behind victory in the fourth quarter. Johnson completed 20 of 24 passes (83.3 percent, a team record) for 294 yards and two TDs - both to Jimmy Smith - with no interceptions and he also ran for 31 yards and a score. The Jaguars jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead on TD runs by Johnson and RB Natrone Means before the Ravens even had a first down. Vinny Testaverde threw three TD passes for Baltimore but was also intercepted three times. The Jaguars' 23 completions, 11 penalties and 31:59 time of possession were their best in those categories since the last Ravens game (Nov. 24, 1996 at Baltimore), which was an overtime contest. The Jaguars' 411 total yards was their most since last December 1 vs. Cincinnati. The Giants defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 31-17 in their home opener, as rookie RB Tiki Barber scored once and set up another TD after making two big plays. Barber ran for 88 yards and caught three passes in his NFL debut, and Giants QB Dave Brown completed 13 of 27 passes for 193 yards and one TD and also ran for a score. FROM COACH TOM COUGHLIN ON THE FALCONS GAME: "It's a tough man's game. Things happen on Sunday afternoon, and there is no way you can prepare for all the things that happen out there. I thought that even though it wasn't very pretty and our defense is certainly capable of playing better than it did, somehow we hung in there and won. A win is a win in the NFL. It was not necessarily a pretty game, but we did an awful lot of things to be proud of, and in the fourth quarter we made the kind of plays necessary to win, such as the goal-line stand which forced a field goal, without which there wouldn't have been a touchdown and a win. We certainly didn't get the kind of pressure early on the quarterback that we had hoped. We had numerous violations, jumping into the neutral zone, which always take away from your aggressiveness and put us back into that mistake category. We'll take a long hard look at it, but it is a lot better to correct when you win than when you lose. (on Rob Johnson) "Rob Johnson had an incredible performance. There were a couple of times when he was probably ruled out (because of the injury), but he came back to make plays at the end of the game to win the game for us. When he came to the sidelines the first time, it looked as if he was going to be out of the game. Somehow Mike Ryan and Dr. Stephen Lucie and Dr. (David) Murray all kept maneuvering around with him and he got to where he could put some pressure on it. But after he went out the second time, it didn't seem likely he would be able to come back after the half. They experimented with some things at the half, took X-rays to make sure there was no fracture. They taped him up, but he didn't like the tape job, so they had to go back and do it again. It was just an incredible performance for a guy who literally had no ability to ride up on his front foot. He could push off his right foot, but could not sustain any balance on his left foot. So he ended up doing a lot with his arm and his timing was very good despite the injury. He was 20 of 24 with two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was a gutsy performance. He was exactly like he is at any other time. He was brutally honest. When he felt he couldn't push off, he told us. (on preparing for the next game) "There are certainly many things that we need to address. One of them is that we've got to get more pressure, more players making things happen on both sides of the ball. (on Deon Figures) "He got two interceptions (after being beat by Jermaine Lewis) and made some big plays. They had hurt him on a flag earlier, they went to it twice more and the kid made interceptions on both of those, so that was outstanding. Again, it was another indication of what we always talk about: The next play is the most important play, not the one that just happened." FROM QB ROB JOHNSON: (on his injury) "They casted it to keep it from moving at all. It is pretty weak right now, so it is just precautionary. (on playing with an injured ankle) "I think it is something any player would do if you only had one quarterback who really knew the offense. We were in a division game in the regular season and we need the win. I'm the backup, and we have Mark coming back pretty soon, and you've just got to go with it. Most guys play with injuries, so I don't think it was that courageous. " MILLER LITE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: The Jaguars' nominee for the Miller Lite Player of the Week Award is QB Rob Johnson, who completed 20 of 24 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions and also ran for 31 yards and a touchdown despite playing on a badly injured left ankle that forced him to leave the game twice. Johnson made his first NFL start and saw his first regular-season action since 1995. His 83.3 completion percentage was the best by a quarterback making his first NFL start since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. NEXT GAME: The Jaguars will play their first game ever on "Monday Night Football," when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers at 9:00 p.m. EDT Monday, September 22 at ALLTEL Stadium. The Jaguars and Steelers have split each of the last two seasons, with both teams winning at home each year. Calling the action will be ABC's broadcasting crew of Al Michaels, Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf, with Lynn Swann reporting from the field. The Jaguars will be idle next week. THE FIRST THREE SEASONS: Here's how NFL expansion teams fared in their first three seasons (Jacksonville and Carolina 1996 records include postseason games.:
Team 1st Year Record 2nd Year Record 3rd Year Record Total Dallas 1960 0-11-1 1961 4-9-1 1962 5-8-1 9-28-3 Minnesota 1961 3-11 1962 2-12-1 1963 5-8-1 10-31-2 Atlanta 1966 3-11 1967 1-12-1 1968 2-12 6-35 Miami 1966 3-11 1967 4-10 1968 5-8-1 12-29-1 New Orleans 1967 3-11 1968 4-9-1 1969 5-9 12-29-1 Cincinnati 1968 3-11 1969 4-9-1 1970 8-6 15-26-1 Seattle 1976 2-12 1977 5-9 1978 9-7 16-28 Tampa Bay 1976 0-14 1977 2-12 1978 5-11 7-37 Jacksonville 1995 4-12 1996 11-8 1997 1-0 16-20 Carolina 1995 7-9 1996 13-5 1997 0-1 20-15
1997 STATS AND SUCH: The Jaguars scored four touchdowns in their season opener, tying a team record for most TDs in a game (12/19/95 vs. Indianapolis). In 1995, they didn't score their fourth TD until the fourth game and last season they did so in their second game. ... The Jaguars had one play of 30-plus yards at Baltimore. In 1996, they had 26 plays of 30-plus yards and only 12 30-plus plays in 1995. ... TE Pete Mitchell's active of 26 consecutive games with a reception leads the team, with Jimmy Smith's string of 25 ranking second and Keenan McCardell's streak of 17 third. ... In two seasons, the Jaguars are 3-7 in September, 4-5 in October, 2-4 in November and 5-3 in December. JAGUARS AMONG THE LEAGUE LEADERS: The Jaguars rank sixth in the NFL in total offense (13th rushing and 3rd passing) and 20th on defense (6th rushing and 27th passing). ... QB Rob Johnson is the second-highest ranked passer (145.5) in the NFL behind the Jets' Neil O'Donnell (146.7), and his 83.3 completion percentage tops the league. ... WR Jimmy Smith is one of nine players with two TDs on opening week, following Oakland's Tim Brown and St. Louis' Lawrence Phillips, who have three scores each. ... Smith and Keenan McCardell have six catches apiece, tied for 11th in the NFL. Smith's yardage total of 106 is ninth, and McCardell's 84 yards is 15th. ... Natrone Means is 17th with 67 yards rushing. ... Bryan Barker ranks third in net punting with a 41.4-yard average and ninth with a 45.2 gross average. ... CB Deon Figures is tied with St. Louis' Rick Lyle and Miami's Shawn Wooden for the NFL lead with two interceptions. ... DE Clyde Simmons is tied in the NFL for third with two sacks. ROSTER MOVES: On Tuesday, the Jaguars placed RB Chris Parker (knee) on injured reserve and signed QB Jim Miller, who had been waived by the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 24. ROSTER NOTES: The average age of the roster as of September 2 is 25.97 years old. There are 24 players (45%) 25 or younger, 24 players (45%) between 26 and 29 years old, and just five players (9%) 30 or older. The youngest player is DE Jabbar Threats (22 years, 4 months), and the oldest is P Bryan Barker (33). ... Eight rookies made the final roster, including the first six draft choices (DT Renaldo Wynn, DB Mike Logan, LB James Hamilton, DT Seth Payne, TE Damon Jones and FB Daimon Shelton) and two undrafted rookies (CB Kevin Devine and DE Jabbar Threats). ... More than half of the players (28, 53%) have three years or less of NFL experience, and only five players are in their eighth season or more. ... There are 11 players (21%) who are new to the team this year, and 42 (79%) who were with the team before this year. Of the 11 new players, there are eight rookies, as well as QB Steve Matthews (claimed on waivers from Kansas City), WR Will Moore (veteran free agent) and CB Deon Figures (unrestricted free agent from Pittsburgh). Six Jaguars have played in all 36 games (regular season and postseason) in franchise history: WR Jimmy Smith, TEs Pete Mitchell and Rich Griffith, DT Don Davey, PK Mike Hollis and P Bryan Barker. ... One member of the Original 10 Jaguars who signed contracts on December 15, 1994 is still with the team: C/G Greg Huntington, who has played in five games over two seasons. ... The Jaguars have 10 players on their roster who were first-round selections in the college draft, including four of their own picks: DE Jeff Lageman (1989, New York Jets), DT Kelvin Pritchett (1991, Dallas Cowboys, but traded to Detroit on Draft Day), TE Derek Brown (1992, New York Giants), OT Leon Searcy (1992, Pittsburgh Steelers), S Dana Hall (1992, San Francisco 49ers), CB Deon Figures (1993, Pittsburgh Steelers), OT Tony Boselli (1995, Jaguars), RB James Stewart (1995, Jaguars), LB Kevin Hardy (1996, Jaguars), DT Renaldo Wynn (1997, Jaguars). ... OT Leon Searcy has started the most consecutive games, 65 dating back to 1993 when he was with the Steelers. OT Tony Boselli has started 29 straight games, not missing a snap since moving into the lineup on September 24, 1995. ... DE Clyde Simmons has played in 173 straight games, going back to 1986 when he was with the Eagles. In fact, Simmons has never missed a game during his career (except the three 1987 strike games). DT John Jurkovic has played in 86 straight games, and Searcy in 79 straight. ... Four players have played in more than 100 games during their careers: Simmons (172), C Dave Widell (139), DE Jeff Lageman (105), P Bryan Barker (103). ... Simmons has 154 career starts, followed by Lageman (102), Widell (81) and LB Eddie Robinson (73). ... Widell will make his 32nd regular-season start as a Jaguar this week, tying the team record held by Mickey Washington. OT Tony Boselli and DT Don Davey will each make their 30th start for the Jaguars. For Boselli, it will be his 30th consecutive start, two shy of Washington's record of 32. ON THE INTERNET: The Jaguars' Official Web Site has been ranked among the 100 Best Sites in the World by PC Magazine (the only sports team or organization with a site ranked in the top 100). The team's weekly press releases (and probably everything else you ever wanted to know about the Jaguars) can be accessed at: http://www.jaguars.com. You can also read the Jaguars' press releases on www.nflmedia.com.