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Late-afternoon press release names Brunell starter


In a statement released by the Jaguars Monday afternoon, coach Tom Coughlin reversed his comments of earlier in the day and named Mark Brunell the Jaguars' starting quarterback for next Monday night's game in Tennessee.

"Mark Brunell is our quarterback and he has been our quarterback since the middle of the 1995 season. Mark will get the reps in practice and he will be our starter on Monday night," Coughlin is quoted as saying in the late-afternoon press release.

At his 12:15 p.m. press conference today, Coughlin was asked who his starting quarterback would be in Tennessee, and he said: "I haven't decided that. I want to sit down and visit."

A little more than 12 hours prior to that press conference, Coughlin had benched Brunell in the fourth quarter of the Jaguars' 15-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Coughlin removed Brunell from the action with about nine minutes to play and the Jaguars' trailing the Ravens 15-3. Jamie Martin moved the Jaguars 75 yards for the team's only touchdown, but the rally fell short when Martin was intercepted the next time the Jaguars had the ball.

"I made the change because I'm in the fourth quarter of a game we're trying to win, and I felt we needed a momentum change at quarterback," Coughlin explained. "Two weeks in a row, he's performed well in that situation. He's been poised when we've needed that to be the case," Coughlin added of Martin, who also engineered the Jaguars' only touchdown in the previous week's loss to the Steelers.

Brunell diplomatically expressed his displeasure at being benched. Brunell was in Green Bay when Brett Favre was a young quarterback attempting to establish himself. "He threw a lot of interceptions but he never got benched; not once," Brunell said emphatically.

In the postgame locker room Sunday night, Brunell's teammates jumped to his defense. Even Martin said Brunell was the team's starter.

"Those guys said that because I've been with them since the beginning," Brunell said.

"In the first half, Mark played extremely well; with fire. I think the fumbled snaps (from center) started to erode his confidence," Coughlin said.

When asked if he had considered the long-term affect on Brunell of benching the quarterback for the second consecutive week, Coughlin said: "I'm not taking into account any long-term psyches. I'm trying to win a game."

Though the quarterback situation was foremost on reporters' minds, Coughlin wanted to talk about his team's six turnovers.

"Such blatant disregard for the ball; I can't tell you how that eats away at my gut. To see a team I coach, with such callous disregard for the ball, just eats away at me," he said.

"We're beating ourselves. The primary function of the offense is to take care of the ball. We could punt the ball 15 times … and be farther ahead than we were (Sunday night)," Coughlin added.

Not even defensive end Tony Brackens escaped Coughlin's wrath for being loose with the football. Brackens intercepted a Tony Banks pass near the goal line in the third quarter, with the Ravens leading 9-3. Brackens attempted to reach the ball over the goal line, but lost control of the ball and it was ruled to have been a fumble the Ravens recovered in the end zone. The Ravens were flagged for holding on the play.

Coughlin said he believes Brackens did score, but added: "As great a play as that was, that's worthy of putting that in the same context of taking care of the ball. If the ball is down on the one-yard line, we refuse the penalty. In any circumstance, the ball is precious."

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