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Not similar in all ways


Jack Del Rio referred to the Jaguars and the Bengals as being similar teams, and there are a few major examples to support that contention.

• Both teams are quarterbacked by a young passer selected in the first round of the 2003 draft.

• The Jaguars and the Bengals are each young teams with a head coach in his third year at the helm and who's a product of the Baltimore Ravens coaching staff.

"We share a lot of similar beliefs," Del Rio said of himself and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. "I learned a lot working with Marvin. He did a great job of involving everyone on the staff; allowing the exchange of ideas. We challenged each other. That's something I believe in."

Del Rio and Lewis each made quarterbacks their first draft choices. Del Rio selected Byron Leftwich with the seventh pick of the 2003 draft, after Lewis made Carson Palmer the first overall pick of that draft.

"We both arrived at the same time and we both went after a quarterback. Last year we go 9-7 and they go 8-8. We both believe in the same philosophy of how you win football games," Del Rio added.

Yeah, these teams share distinct similarities. Each is also coming off a long stretch of not making the playoffs, though the Bengals' 14-year streak dwarfs the Jaguars' five-year absence.

There are, however, some major differences. For starters, the Bengals are 4-0 and the toast of the NFL, while the Jaguars are 2-2 and coming off a disheartening defeat that has turned much of the team's fan base into an angry mob.

If perception is reality, life couldn't get any better than it is right now in Cincinnati. Palmer and Lewis are heroes in the "Queen City." Even owner Mike Brown, long the target of fans who chided him for being cheap and running the team in a second-class manner, has become a savior of sorts. Cincinnati has reached out with both hands to buy-up all of the seats at 65,376-seat Paul Brown Stadium.

The Jaguars, on the other hand, are under siege this week. On the heels of a 20-7 home loss to Denver that was a bitter pill to swallow, fan criticism is intense and Leftwich is getting hit hardest.

That's not uncommon for quarterbacks. They tend to get credit and blame in unworthy amounts in all NFL towns. Leftwich, however, may be getting an extra dose.

You would think that at some point he'd crack. A lot of the great ones have. At some point they decided they weren't going to take it anymore, so, they shot back, which only made matters worse. Leftwich refuses to make that mistake.

"That's what happens when you lose," he said on Wednesday. "We're disappointed, too.

"I'm a fan of the game, too. When the Redskins lost, I hated them that week. I didn't understand what the Redskins were doing and why they lost," he added.

The one criticism he hears over and over is that he's not mobile. It's a criticism to which he's defenseless because he, in fact, is not mobile. Neither is Palmer, who rushed 18 times for 47 yards and a touchdown last season. Leftwich ran 39 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

You would think that the constant references to his inability to run might leave him a bit sensitive, but, no, again. Leftwich told reporters on Wednesday stories of sneaking into RFK Stadium as a youth.

"They couldn't catch me then," he joked.

This could be a critical week in Leftwich's career. Therein lies another major difference between these teams.

The Bengals quarterback has never faced the criticism or pressure that dogs the Jaguars' quarterback.

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