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McNabb forcing Jags' hand


Reporter's questions at today's press conference centered on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and what the Jaguars need to do to stop the $115 million quarterback.

"You gotta mix it up," Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said.

Of course, Coughlin wouldn't offer specifics, but you can bet defensive coordinator John Pease and staff are hard at work finding ways to pressure McNabb without exposing the Jaguars secondary.

"You have to have pressure on this guy. It's real important, but containment is important, too," Coughlin said.

The words are somewhat contradictory. Pressure and containment are seldom used in conjunction with each other, but McNabb's talents force opposing defenses to cover all of the bases.

Various techniques have been used. Opposing defenses have blitzed, but McNabb has countered with dazzling escapes. Some teams have dedicated one player to "spy" on McNabb, but Coughlin says "the talent level of that football team doesn't always allow you to do that."

More conservative defenses have sat in their "dime" schemes, in hopes McNabb would force the ball into double coverage. But Coughlin dismissed that type of approach as too passive for a quarterback who possesses McNabb's poise.

So, what to do? We'll find out Sunday.

"He's a young guy. He's big; he's strong. He'll do some things rather than run out of bounds. He'll drop his shoulder," Coughlin said.

Those kinds of accolades have made McNabb the new highest-paid player in NFL history. He recently signed a 12-year, $115 million contract in just his fourth pro season.

"I wish I was five years younger," Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell said of McNabb's new deal. "It's good for every young quarterback in the league."

Not too many years ago the Jaguars leaned on Brunell as the Eagles lean on McNabb. In 1996, when he led the Jaguars to the AFC title game, Brunell threw for 4,367 yards and rushed for 396. Last year, McNabb threw for 3,233 yards and rushed for 482.

"He's their best player. You have the ability to win the football game or lose the football game for your team. With that comes a lot of pressure," Brunell said.

These days, Brunell has a better supporting cast, which has allowed him to ease into a more conservative, veteran role as a pocket passer. It would sure help if he's able to function in that role this Sunday because "defensing" McNabb will probably require a solid effort from the Jaguars offense, too.

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