They're coming off a major disappointment that seems to have taken on its own life, and already there is talk about the Sept. 25 Monday nighter in Indianapolis. So, where do the Cincinnati Bengals fit on the Jaguars' schedule? Right in the middle of two big games, which some would suggest might cause the Jaguars to overlook this Sunday's opponent, but Tony Boselli says that won't happen.
"No way. The head man won't let you. Tom (Coughlin) makes sure the team is focused each week," Boselli said of the Jaguars coach.
The Jaguars will open their home season this Sunday against the Bengals, a team that once again seems destined for the bottom of the AFC Central Division. On paper, the Jaguars appear to be a lock to run their record to 2-1, and with a Baltimore loss in Miami Sunday night the Jaguars could move back into a first-place tie with the Ravens, but the motivation this week would seem to be purely professional.
"It's week three. Who cares about who's in first place in week three? All that matters is who's in first place on Jan. 28," said Boselli, who will be blocking against defensive end John Copeland. "You have to go out and do your work," Boselli added.
The Bengals are too lightly regarded for the Jaguars to gain anything but a win. This is not a game in which the Jaguars can redeem themselves for having blown a 23-7 halftime lead in Baltimore last weekend. Redemption will have to wait at least a week, when the Jaguars travel to Indianapolis.
"Are we good enough to look past a team?" wide receiver Keenan McCardell asked. "We're good, but we can't look past anybody.
"I see a team with a lot of young talent that's trying to find itself. I think they're going to blitz us. I think they know it's going to be hard to hold up in coverage," McCardell added.
Boselli cautions that "you've got to be careful in this league. Favorites end up losing. A team goes in overconfident, let's the other team stay in it early, and then gets in a dogfight," he said.
The Jaguars have beaten the Bengals the last four times the two teams have played. Cincinnati won in Jacksonville in 1995, but not since. The Jaguars last lost to the Bengals in 1997, in Cincinnati, in an upset that may have cost the Jaguars the division title.
"This is the NFL. I don't care who you're playing, once you get to this level, everybody's good," cornerback Fernando Bryant said.
Bryant and cornerback Aaron Beasley will be facing rookie wide receivers Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans. Second-year quarterback Akili Smith, who will be making only his sixth pro start, looked often in Warrick's and Dugans' directions last week against Cleveland, but without much success. Smith was sacked seven times.
However, Bryant and Beasley will be on the hot seat this Sunday, following a week of criticism for poor coverage against the Ravens. In some respects, the stigma of that game is still the Jaguars' greatest foe, which the Bengals are hoping will be their best ally.