Jaguars fans got the worst-possible news late yesterday: Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns will be the first TV blackout of a regular-season home game in Jaguars history. However, nothing changes for Jaguars players, who are focused on their opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the AFC Central.
"We've played as a team these first two games, and that's what we have to do to win," Tony Boselli said of the Jaguars' quest for a 3-0 start. If that happens, and if Cincinnati loses in San Diego, the Jaguars would hold the division lead alone for the first time since they won their second consecutive AFC Central title in 1999.
Cleveland could gain a share of the AFC Central lead with a win in Jacksonville and a Cincinnati loss in San Diego, but the consensus of opinion among fans is that Cleveland will offer the Jaguars little resistance, an opinion that seems to have fueled the blackout decision.
"That may be the public perception, but they haven't seen the team we have to play. Their defense is very active," Boselli said. "It's a big game. No one outside the locker room realizes it, but we do."
Coach Tom Coughlin has cautioned his players against taking the Browns lightly, but not even Coughlin could rally fans. "The word needs to go out to our fans that this is a good team," Coughlin said.
Giving the Jaguars their greatest degree of anxiety is the loss of star running back Fred Taylor, who suffered a severe groin injury against the Titans. The Jaguars will also be without defensive end Tony Brackens (knee) and safety Donovin Darius (hip) again, and Boselli was added to the injury report Thursday with a sore shoulder that has been troubling Boselli since training camp.
"He's got some wear and tear on his shoulder and we'll have to slow him down and see where he is," Coughlin said, referring to Boselli's practice regimen.
Boselli said he will be in the lineup Sunday against the Browns.
Defensively, the Jaguars will attempt to score their third consecutive touchdown-shutout of the season. The Jaguars defense will set a team record for most consecutive quarters without having allowed a touchdown, if they keep the Browns out of the end zone in the first half. The current record is nine quarters, set in 1999.
"Gary Moeller has no hidden agenda. He's open and honest with the players," Coughlin said of his new defensive coordinator. "Let's not worry about being sensitive. Let's get it corrected."
With a win Sunday, the Jaguars will have completed the month of September without an error.