If head coach Jack Del Rio and this new era in Jaguars football is to get off to a fast start, it'll have to happen on the road.
The NFL announced its 2003 regular-season schedule today, and three of the Jaguars' first four games -- including the season opener at Carolina on Sept. 7 -- will take the Jaguars away from Alltel Stadium. The home opener is set for week two (Sept. 14) of the season against the visiting Buffalo Bills in a one p.m. kickoff.
"This is a tough schedule, but a good schedule. I'm looking forward to opening day against Carolina, but we're going to have to be 'road warriors' early on with three of our first four games on the road," Del Rio said. Of course, Del Rio will be in somewhat of a homecoming game in the season opener, after having served as Carolina's defensive coordinator last season.
In week three, the Jaguars will travel to Indianapolis and a week later Del Rio will take his team to Houston for a second consecutive AFC South Division contest.
But the schedule shifts gears dramatically in October, when the Jaguars play three times at home, including a feature attraction against the visiting Miami Dolphins on Oct. 12. Following a bye week, the Jaguars host archrival Tennessee on Oct. 26.
November also presents an appetizing menu, including games at Alltel Stadium against the Colts and the Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Bucs. The latter is set for Sunday night, Nov. 30 (the Jaguars' 10th anniversary), in what will be the Jaguars' only national TV game of the season.
And if this new era in Jaguars football is to begin the final month of the 2003 season as a playoff contender, it will find itself in crunch-time games against expected playoff contenders New England, New Orleans and Atlanta in the final three weeks of the season.
"We'll obviously have to do well away from home in September. The middle of the schedule is attractive, with four out of five games at home, and the bye weekend comes at a good time after six games," Del Rio added. "This will be a great challenge, with the last three Super Bowl champions on our schedule. The highlight will be playing the defending world champions at night in a nationally-televised game here in Jacksonville on the Jaguars' 10th anniversary."
The Jaguars ticket office reminds fans:
• Single-game tickets will not go on sale to the general public until late-July; season ticket packages are the only ticket product currently on sale.
• Season ticket holders will receive a form in the mail to purchase additional single-game tickets prior to the sale to the general public.
• Group ticket packages for 10 or more people will go on sale on May 21.