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Jags can strike big blow


Tom Coughlin says "it's a tremendous rivalry," but it wasn't born of geography or any other natural causes. The Jaguars didn't start "hating" the Titans until the Titans beat the Jaguars three times in one season.

This is a rivalry born of winning. When these two teams' feelings for each other were at their peak, so was each team's won-lost record.

The situation is starkly different for the Titans these days. The Jaguars are back in ascent following 7-9 and 6-10 seasons, but the Titans appear as though they will fall to depths much greater than last year's 7-9 mark. At 1-4 and with a salary cap situation overburdened by money invested in older players, the Titans are clearly in decline.

So, what about this Sunday? Will the Jaguars find a Titans team in decline, or will the Titans be a bunch of angry players desperate to halt a four-game losing streak that caused team owner Bud Adams to lash out his coach this week?

"We had the same thing going against the Jets," Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell said. "You don't know what kind of team you're going to get. They will be tough. They will be at their best."

Eddie George's stats are a shadow of their former self, as George has only 81 rushing attempts for a mere 218 yards (2.7 per carry). And therein lies the most major of the Titans' problems. It is a team that depends on the running game, which has always been entrusted to George. But now George's career is being threatened by a foot/toe injury he can't shake.

"When you're not running the ball, you're going to have problems," Jaguars guard Zach Wiegert said. "You don't know when they're going to get back into that rhythm and play like they usually do."

For the Titans' sake, it better happen this Sunday. At 1-4, a home loss to the Jaguars would leave the Titans an afterthought in the AFC South title race. The Jaguars can effectively make this a two-team race by beating the Titans Sunday.

In Jacksonville, the question is: Are the 3-1 Jaguars mature enough to handle prosperity?

"No one is even talking about that (Philadelphia) game any more," Wiegert said. "With the way we've been playing, we'll be in every game."

"The reasons we're being recognized right now is for our effort, our preparation, our hard work on the practice field and our hustle," Coughlin said of the message he delivered to players today.

In the only hard news of the day, Coughlin told reporters first-round draft choice John Henderson would get his second pro start this Sunday in Nashville.

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