EDT ALLTEL Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.
THIS WEEK: One of only four undefeated teams in the NFL (prior to Monday night's Green Bay-Minnesota game) and alone in first place in the AFC Central Division, the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Miami Dolphins at 8:20 p.m. Monday at ALLTEL Stadium in a nationally televised game on ABC"s "Monday Night Football."
The Jaguars are coming off their open week, after having defeated Chicago, Kansas City, Baltimore and Tennessee in September to start the 1998 season. In their first three seasons, Jacksonville is 2-1 coming off its bye week. The Jaguars are also the first AFC Central team to start the season 4-0 since the 1988 Cincinnati Bengals (who went to Super Bowl XXIII). The Dolphins won their first three games but lost to the New York Jets on Sunday, 20-9.
The Jaguars are 4-0 for the first time in franchise history and have won six straight regular-season games going back to last season. They also have the second-best record in the NFL over the last 25 regular-season games dating back to November 24, 1996, when they began their late-season streak to the playoffs. Jacksonville's 20-5 record in that time is the best mark in the AFC and trails only Green Bay (22-3), while San Francisco is also 20-5. The Jaguars also are tied for the third-best record at home since the start of the 1996 season, with a 16-2 mark in that time, trailing only Denver and Green Bay and tied with San Francisco and Pittsburgh.
The game will be the Jaguars' first of two appearances this season on "Monday Night Football." They will close the regular season at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 28. Following the Miami game, the Jaguars will undergo their annual three-game road trip, with visits to Buffalo, Denver and Baltimore. The Baltimore game will be their first of six divisional games in the final nine weeks of the season. Jacksonville has won 11 of its last 13 games against AFC Central Division opponents and 16 of its last 19 against AFC foes.
TELEVISION BROADCAST: The game will be televised nationally by ABC and locally by WJXX Channel 25. Al Michaels will call the play-by-play and Dan Dierdorf and Boomer Esiason will add analysis.
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 calls the play-by-play and former NFL quarterback Matt Robinson adds analysis. Sexton and Robinson are in their fourth 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 21 affiliates in four states on the Jaguars Radio Network will also broadcast the game.
CBS Radio will carry the game nationally, with Howard David handling play-by-play and Matt Millen providing analysis.
TICKET INFORMATION: The game is sold out.
THE OPPONENT: The Miami Dolphins were the first expansion team in the American Football League, beginning play in 1966. Following four losing seasons, the Dolphins hired Don Shula as head coach in 1970 and immediately turned into one of the most successful franchises in the NFL. They made the playoffs in 1970, then advanced to the Super Bowl in 1971, losing to Baltimore. In 1972, the Dolphins completed the only unbeaten season in NFL history, going 17-0, with a 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII. A year later the Dolphins became only the second team to win back-to-back Super Bowls when they defeated the Minnesota Vikings 24-7. The Dolphins played in Super Bowls following the 1982 and '84 seasons, then missed the playoffs from 1986 to '89. In the 1990s, they have qualified for the postseason five times, though never advancing past the divisional playoffs. On January 5, 1996, Don Shula retired as the winningest coach in NFL history with an overall record of 347-173-6. He was succeeded by Jimmy Johnson.
THE SERIES: The Jaguars and Dolphins have never played during the regular season. They did meet in the 1995 preseason, with Jacksonville winning 24-21, to give the franchise its first-ever preseason victory.
A JAGUARS VICTORY OVER THE DOLPHINS WOULD: Give them a 5-0 record for the first time ever and their 21st victory in their last 26 regular-season games dating back to 1996. It would also give them a 2-0 mark on "Monday Night Football."
INJURY UPDATE: The Jaguars' injured players are: CB Dave Thomas (strained hamstring), DE Fernando Smith (sprained knee), DE Joel Smeenge (sprained shoulder), LB James Hamilton (ankle), DE Tony Brackens (ankle), DT Seth Payne (shoulder), G/OT Jeff Novak (leg) and LB Bryan Schwartz (sprained knee). The status of all injured players will be updated during the week.
ROSTER MOVES: On October 1, the Jaguars placed DE Jabbar Threats (knee) on injured reserve and activated DE Lamanzer Williams from the practice squad. They also signed DE Reggie Lowe to their practice squad.
THE COACHES: Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin has led the Jaguars to the playoffs each of the last two seasons, a first for an NFL expansion team. In 1997, the Jaguars finished 11-5 and lost the AFC Central Division championship on the fifth tiebreaker to Pittsburgh. The Jaguars 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 the regular season in second place 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, 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), Green Bay Packers (wide receivers and passing game coordinator 1986-87) and Philadelphia Eagles (wide receivers, 1984-85). He has a record of 28-24 during the regular season and 2-2 in the postseason.
In his second season with the Dolphins in 1997, Jimmy Johnson led the team to a 9-7 record and a wild-card berth. Johnson returned to the NFL in 1996, leading the youthful Dolphins to an 8-8 record. Before replacing Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Don Shula at Miami, Johnson replaced another Hall of Fame coach, the Cowboys' Tom Landry, in 1989. Within four years, Dallas had won a Super Bowl (XXVII) and repeated as NFL champions the following year, defeating the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII. His overall NFL coaching record stands at 71-54. Johnson coached the University of Miami to a 52-9 record from 1984-88. His undefeated 1987 Hurricanes won the national title, and he is one of only two coaches ever to win both a collegiate national championship and a Super Bowl.
COACHING DIVISION VICTORIES: Four games into the 1998 season, the Jaguars' Tom Coughlin is fifth among all current NFL coaches with a .654 winning percentage (17-9) in division games. The leaders are Bill Cowher (31-12, .721 with Pittsburgh), Marty Schottenheimer (73-30, .709 with Cleveland and Kansas City), Mike Holmgren (35-15, .700 with Green Bay) and Mike Ditka (61-32, .656 with Chicago and New Orleans). Philadelphia's Ray Rhodes (15-10, .600 with Philadelphia) is sixth.
JACKSONVILLE-MIAMI CONNECTIONS: Four Jaguars played for the Dolphins: G/OT Jeff Novak played for the Dolphins in 1993 and '94. In '93 he was signed to Miami's active roster on Dec. 15 off of the Giants' practice squad, though he did not see any action in the final three games. In 1994, he made the Dolphins' opening day roster, playing in six games as a reserve. Novak was the third player drafted by the Jaguars in the expansion draft. LB Brant Boyer spent the 1994 season with the Dolphins, playing in 14 games, primarily on special teams. He was a sixth-round draft choice by the Dolphins in 1994 and joined the Jaguars as their 22nd selection in the 1995 expansion draft. LB Jeff Kopp was a sixth-round draft choice of the the Dolphins in 1995 who played in all 16 games and one playoff contest as a rookie. He finished the season with one tackle, one forced fumble and 11 special teams tackles. Kopp signed with the Jaguars as a free agent on 9/24/96 following a season-ending knee injury to LB Bryan Schwartz. TE Pete Mitchell was a fourth-round selection by the Dolphins in 1995. He was acquired in a trade with Miami on August 27, seven days before the Jaguars' inaugural game, in exchange for WR Mike Williams. ... Seven Dolphins are from the state of Florida: WR Horace Copeland (Orlando, University of Miami), QB Craig Erickson (West Palm Beach, Univesity of Miami), WR Yatil Green (Lake City, University of Miami), LB Anthony Harris (Ft. Pierce), DB Calvin Jackson (Miami), PK Olindo Mare (Hollywood) and WR Lamar Thomas (Ocala, University of Miami). In addition, DE Trace Armstrong attended the University of Florida, CB Terrell Buckley went to Florida State, and DE Daniel Stubbs played at the University of Miami . . .Dolphins head coach Jimmy Johnson was the head coach at the University of Miami from 1984 to '88 ... Jaguars QB Mark Brunell played with Dolphins QB Damon Huard at the University of Washington in 1992 . . . Jaguars S Donovin Darius was a teammate of Dolphins PK Olindo Mare at Syracuse ... Jaguars S Travis Davis and DT/DE Renaldo Wynn played at Notre Dame with Dolphins C Tim Ruddy ... Jaguars OT Leon Searcy was teammates with Dolphins WR Horace Copeland, QB Craig Erickson and WR Lamar Thomas at the University of Miami. Searcy also played high school football with Copeland at Orlando's Evans High ... Jaguars RB George Jones played with Dolphins WR Nate Jacquet at San Diego State.
DAILY SCHEDULE: Interview times and practice for the next week are as follows:
NEXT WEEK: The Jaguars will travel to Buffalo to face the Bills at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, October 18 at Rich Stadium. It will mark the third straight year the Jaguars have traveled to Buffalo, with Jacksonville winning 30-27 in a 1996 Wild-Card playoff and 20-14 last December 14, in the next-to-last game of the 1997 regular season. The game will be the first of three straight on the road for the Jaguars. They will travel to Denver and Baltimore the following two weeks.
THE TEAL IS REAL . . . Since November 24, 1996, when the Jaguars began their run to the '96 playoffs, their record is the third best in the NFL and the best in the AFC. The Jaguars have won 20 of their last 25 regular-season games. Here's a look at the league's best records since November 24, 1996:
- Kansas City Chiefs
New England Patriots
. . . WITH THE THIRD-BEST RECORD AT HOME . . . The Jaguars have gone 7-1 at ALLTEL Stadium each of the last two seasons and are 2-0 this year, which gives them a 16-2 record, tied for the third-best mark at home in the last three seasons. The Jaguars have lost only one home game since the second week of the 1996 season and have won 17 of their last 19 home games dating back to December 24, 1995, in their inaugural season. Here are the best home records in the NFL since the start of the 1996 season:
- Jacksonville Jaguars
San Francisco 49ers
. . . AND THIRD-BEST RECORD ON THE ROAD . . . The Jaguars are one of only six NFL teams with a better than .500 record on the road dating back to November 24, 1996. The Jaguars' 8-4 record away from home during that time is the third-best mark in the NFL. Here are the only teams in the league with a .500 or better record on the road since November 24, 1996:
- San Francisco 49ers
Green Bay Packers
JAGUARS SUPERLATIVES: Through four games, the Jaguars have achieved the following milestones:
STINGY DEFENSE: Through the first four weeks of the season, the Jaguars have allowed only six touchdowns in four games, an average of 1.5 per game that is by far the best in team history. In 1996, Jaguars opponents scored 37 TDs, an average of 2.3 per game.
Compared to the rest of the NFL, only Miami (2 TDs allowed in three games) and Seattle (5 TDs allowed in four games) have done better than Jacksonville. Pittsburgh has also allowed six TDs in four games.
The Jaguars have allowed 71 points in four games, an average of 17.75 per game, which is at a record pace for the team. Last season the Jaguars allowed 318 points, an average of 19.88 per game.
THE COMEBACK CAT: Since 1995, QB Mark Brunell has led the Jaguars to nine come-from-behind victories in the fourth quarter. Here's a recap: