THIS WEEK: The Jacksonville Jaguars will close out their first preseason under new head coach Jack Del Rio when they host the Washington Redskins at 8:00 p.m. Thursday at ALLTEL Stadium. The Jaguars are 2-1 so far in the exhibition season, with victories over the Minnesota Vikings and the Miami Dolphins and a loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Saturday night. It will be the final game for the Jaguars before they open the regular season on September 7. After coming from behind to win their first two preseason games, the Jaguars failed on a last-minute rally against the Buccaneers, losing for the first time in the preseason. The Jaguars have a 21-15 record in the preseason in their first nine seasons (they were 1-3 in 2002).
The Jaguars-Redskins game brings former University of Florida coach Steve Spurrier back close to his roots for the second time in less than a year. Last November, the Jaguars defeated the Redskins 26-7 during the 2002 regular season in Spurrier's first season as Washington's head coach. The Redskins are 1-2 in this preseason, winning their first game 24-3 over the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night.
The "New Era" Jaguars have 33 new players on their 73-man roster, and the team could have as many as nine new starters when the regular season begins. The new players include four unrestricted free agents (including stars Hugh Douglas and Mike Peterson), nine veteran free agents, five first-year free agents, nine draft choices and seven undrafted rookies.
TICKET INFORMATION: Tickets are still available. Fans can call 1-877-4-JAGS-TIX or (904) 633-2000 or buy tickets online at www.jaguars.com
JAGUARS ON THE AIR THIS WEEK:
Monday — Jaguars Reporters, 6:00 p.m., WOKV Radio, with Brian Sexton, Vic Ketchman
Monday — The Jack Del Rio Show, 7:30 p.m., WTEV, Ch. 47
Tuesday — The Jack Del Rio Show, 6:00 p.m., WOKV Radio
Wednesday — Jaguars This Week, 6:00 p.m., WOKV Radio
THE OPPONENT: The Redskins were formed as the Boston Braves in 1932 and re-named the Redskins a year later. They moved to Washington in 1937, the year they won their first NFL Championship behind the passing of the legendary Sammy Baugh. They won their second league title in 1942 and took three Eastern Division titles between 1943 and '46 before losing the world championship game each season. The Redskins didn't qualify for the playoffs again until 1971, and a year later they appeared in their first Super Bowl, losing 14-7 to the undefeated Miami Dolphins. Joe Gibbs was named head coach in 1981, and the Redskins won the Super Bowl in 1982 behind Joe Theismann and lost in Super Bowl XVIII the following year. Doug Williams led the Redskins to the Super Bowl XXII championship in 1987 and Mark Rypien quarterbacked the Super Bowl XXVI title in 1991. They have qualified for the playoffs only once in the last 10 seasons. Steve Spurrier was named head coach in 2002 and led the team to a 7-9 record and third place in the NFC East.
THE SERIES: The Jaguars and the Redskins have played three times, with Washington holding a 2-1 lead in the series. In 1997, the Redskins won at home 24-12 in 1997, and they won the 2000 matchup 35-16 in Jacksonville. Last year, the Jaguars won 26-7 at ALLTEL Stadium. This is the first meeting in the preseason between the two teams.
THE LAST TIME: The Jaguars defeated the Washington Redskins 26-7 on November 10, 2002 at ALLTEL Stadium behind four field goals by Tim Seder and a stout defense that kept the Redskins from scoring after their first possession. The victory snapped a four-game losing streak and gave the Jaguars a 4-5 record. Seder, who was signed by the team three weeks earlier, tied a career high with his four field goals, and Stacey Mack and Fred Taylor scored rushing touchdowns, as the Jaguars broke out of an offensive slump. After the Redskins scored on their first possession, the Jaguars struck back with 23 points in the second and third quarters. The Jaguars came up with three interceptions and two sacks. On Washington's final 11 drives, they punted five times, suffered three interceptions, were stopped on downs twice and missed a field goal. Meanwhile, the Jaguars had a balanced offense with 142 yards rushing and 167 yards passing. RB Fred Taylor accounted for 109 yards, with 82 rushing and 27 on seven receptions. WR Jimmy Smith added five catches for 68 yards and Bobby Shaw had three receptions for 69 yards. Punter Chris Hanson pinned the Redskins at their own 19-, 5-, 7- and 6-yard lines with excellent kicks. Washington drove 77 yards for a touchdown on its first series, then managed only 127 yards until midway through the fourth quarter. By that time, the Jaguars had scored on six of eight possessions and they spoiled Steve Spurrier's return to the state of Florida.
A JAGUARS VICTORY OVER THE REDSKINS WOULD: Give them a 3-1 record in 2003 and their first winning preseason since 2000. It would give them their third win under new head coach Jack Del Rio and a 22-15 preseason record in nine years. It would mark the fifth time they've been undefeated at home during the preseason.
THE COACHES: Jack Del Rio was named Jaguars head coach on January 17, 2003, becoming the second head coach in Jaguars' history. At 40, Del Rio is the second youngest head coach in the NFL (four months older than Jon Gruden). Del Rio spent 11 years as an NFL linebacker and had a standout college career at the University of Southern California. He previously coached in New Orleans (1997-98), Baltimore (1999-2001), and Carolina (2002). He was the Panthers' defensive coordinator, and in his only season with the club the defense improved from 31st in the NFL to second, the biggest one season defensive improvement in NFL history. Del Rio was the linebackers coach for three seasons in Baltimore, where the Ravens' defense also ranked second each season. He helped the team win Super Bowl XXXV over the New York Giants and coached the Ravens' talented linebackers, overseeing the development of Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper and Ray Lewis, the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV. Prior to coaching, Del Rio played 11 seasons in the NFL, with New Orleans (1985-86), Kansas City (1987-88), Dallas (1989-1991) and Minnesota (1992-95), playing in the Pro Bowl following the 1994 season. Del Rio was a starter at linebacker for Southern California (1981-84), where he earned All-America honors, was a runner-up for the Lombardi Award and co-MVP of the 1985 Rose Bowl. Del Rio has learned from some of the best coaches in all of football. He was recruited to USC and played for John Robinson, and in the NFL he played under Bum Phillips, Jim Mora, Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Green. As an assistant coach, he has worked for Hall of Famer Mike Ditka and Super Bowl winner Brian Billick, as well as John Fox. Drafted by baseball's Toronto Blue Jays, Del Rio batted .340 while playing catcher on USC's baseball team in 1983 and 1984 with future stars Randy Johnson and Mark McGwire. He was a third-round choice by the New Orleans Saints in 1985 and was named to the NFL's All-Rookie team.
Steve Spurrier was hired as the Redskins' head coach in 2002 and finished his inaugural season with a 7-9 record. Spurrier joined the Redskins following 12 seasons at the University of Florida, where he posted a record of 122-27-1, including a victory over Florida State in the Sugar Bowl that gave the Gators the 1996 national championship. He guided Florida to seven Southeastern Conference championships, and his teams won 10 or more games in nine of his 12 seasons, utilizing Spurrier's famed "Fun 'N' Gun" offense. Spurrier received his first head coaching experience with the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits (1983-85), where he recorded a mark of 35-19. He also coached Duke (1987-89), posting a 20-13-1 record, leading the Blue Devils to the 1989 Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Spurrier is the first Heisman Trophy winner to coach an NFL team, having won the award in 1966. He was named to the National Collegiate Football Hall of Fame in 1986. Spurrier was a first-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 1967 and he played 10 NFL seasons with the 49ers (1967-75) and Tampa Bay (1976). Spurrier was an assistant at Florida (1977), Georgia Tech (1978-79), and Duke (1980-82).
JACKSONVILLE-WASHINGTON CONNECTIONS: Three Jaguars are former Redskins: DE Marco Coleman (1999- 2001), TE/LS Joe Zelenka (2000) and WR Kevin Lockett (2001-2002) … Nine Redskins are former Jaguars: P Bryan Barker (1995-2001), DE Renaldo Wynn (1997-2001), DE Regan Upshaw (1999), QB Rob Johnson (1995-97), WR Patrick Johnson (2002), WR Richmond Flowers (2001 seventh-round draft pick), P David Leaverton (fifth-rounder in 2001), DE Mike Cecere (2001 training camp) and CB Bruce Branch (2001 training camp) … Redskins head coach Steve Spurrier coached the Florida Gators from 1989 to 2001 and led them to a national championship in '96 … Jaguars who were coached by Spurrier at Florida are RB Fred Taylor, OT Mike Pearson and LB Mike Peterson … Redskins assistant coaches from Spurrier's staffs at Florida include: QB coach Noah Brindise (1999-2001), DL assistant/quality control coach DeChon Burns (2001), assistant defensive coordinator/LB coach George Edwards (1991), special teams assistant/assistant LB coach Jim Collins (1990-2001), TE coach Lawson Holland (1995-2001), assistant OL coach John Hunt (1995-2001) and WR coach Steve Spurrier Jr. (1994-1998) … Redskins offensive assistant /quality control coach Paul Guenther was the defensive coordinator at Jacksonville University in 1997 … Seven Jaguars have ties to the Washington D.C./Virginia area: TE Chris Luzar (Williamsburg, University of Virginia), QB Byron Leftwich (Washington, D.C.), CB Ike Charlton, OT Leander Jordan (Washington D.C.), DT Chris Combs (Roanoke, Va.), OT Marques Ogden (Washington D.C.) and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave (Virginia 2001-2002); Jaguars LB coach Mike Haluchak coached with the Redskins from 1994-96 … Seven Redskins have ties to the state of Florida: P Bryan Barker (born in Jacksonville Beach),WR Laveranues Coles (Jacksonville, Ribault High and Florida State), WR Rod Gardner (Jacksonville, Raines High), QB Danny Wuerffel (Pensacola), LB Jessie Armstead (University of Miami) WR Taylor Jacobs (Tallahassee, University of Florida) and DB Ricot Joseph (Lake Worth) … Players who were college teammates include: Jaguars RB Fred Taylor with Redskins QB Danny Wuerffel and WR Taylor Jacobs; Jaguars CB Fernando Bryant and Redskins OT Chris Samuels at Alabama; Jaguars S Donovin Darius and Redskins LB Kevin Mitchell at Syracuse; Jaguars DT John Henderson and LB Eric Westmoreland with Redskins DB Andre Lott at Tennessee; Jaguars OT Marques Ogden and Redskins TE Leonard Stephens at Howard; and Jaguars PK Seth Marler and Redskins QB Patrick Ramsey at Tulane.
LAST WEEK: The Jaguars lost for the first time this preseason, 10-6 to the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. The Jaguars struggled most of the game, managing only 193 yards on offense, just 42 of them on the ground. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, gained 322 yards and controlled the ball for 35 minutes. The Jaguars kept the game close in the first period, intercepting Buccaneers QB Brad Johnson on Tampa Bay's first two drives, the second one in the end zone to thwart a score. Rookie Seth Marler kicked two field goals to produce all of Jacksonville's points, including a 55-yarder late in the first half. The only touchdown of the game was scored by Tampa Bay's Thomas Jones in the third quarter. Midway through the fourth period, David Garrard led the Jaguars to an apparent go-ahead score. But his 15-yard touchdown pass to Joe Smith was nullified by a penalty and three plays later Garrard was sacked and fumbled away the ball. Rookie Byron Leftwich led the Jaguars' final drive and got into Buccaneers' territory. But he, too, was sacked with 1:31 left on the clock to end a drive and the game.
NOTES FROM THE BUCCANEERS GAME: The loss gave the Jaguars a 21-15 record in the preseason in nine years. … The Jaguars had fewer first downs (10 to 15), fewer yards (193 to 322) and less time of possession (25:00 to 35:00). They converted only 2 of 14 third downs (14 percent), and the Buccaneers were 4 of 15 (27 percent). … The Jaguars had their first turnover of the preseason and three takeaways and are plus-five in the preseason. … Mark Brunell started at quarterback and played the first half, completing 7 of 18 passes for 75 yards. David Garrard completed 6 of 11 passes for 68 yards, and Byron Leftwich was 3 of 5 for 22 yards. … RB Fred Taylor played in his first game of the preseason, seeing limited action in the first quarter and rushing for a team-leading 11 yards on 4 carries. Rookie Joe Smith also had 11 yards on 4 rushes. … Rookie Cortez Hankton led the team with 4 receptions for 81 yards. … Chris Hanson punted six times for a 42.8-yard average, with one touchback, none inside the 20, and a long of 46. He had three kicks returned for 18 yards and a net average of 36.5. … The Jaguars registered just one sack (by Chris Combs) and allowed three sacks.
FROM COACH JACK DEL RIO ON THE BUCCANEERS GAME: "This team has a lot of work to do. We played a Tampa Bay team that has put in a lot of work. They're an elite team. It looked like we went up against an elite team and fell down a little bit. There are things we must do better to be a good football team. We've identified them; we're working on them. We'd made some progress until this week. I feel like we took a little bit step backwards and maybe part of it was going up against a real good football team, but the bottom line is I expect better."
(on the defense) "We are not a bend-but-don't-break defense. We happened to look like that in the first half because we had some bend — bend that I really don't want to see. We were fortunate to keep Tampa Bay from scoring and come up with some turnovers, which was great. But we were on the field far too long in the first half and didn't allow our offense to get on the field enough. Offensively, we have to convert third downs to stay on the field. If you add all that up, we were fortunate for the game to be as close as it was."
(on the run defense) "It's been a big focus from the first day I got here. It remains a big focus. We are not playing the run well enough to win in this league, plain and simple. I thought it was one of the Achilles' heels on the team last year and we have to get that fixed. You just can't win in this league if you can't stop the run. It falls on the whole team. It's everybody. It could be a corner or a safety in support. It could be a linebacker filling in the gap. It could be a defensive lineman standing on his feet, standing his gap, being destructive. They're all tied together. It's never one position. That's why it's a team effort. When you don't stop the run, teams are able to melt the clock, hold on to the ball and keep your offense on the sideline, and that's what happened. You get fewer chances on offense, and on defense you spend far too long on the football field. Those are both bad things for your football team."
(on keeping the game close) "We had opportunities to do things. Whenever we moved the ball or did something positive, it seemed like we had some type of setback, whether it be a penalty or a mental breakdown. It wasn't a crisp, sharp effort, not the effort I was looking for. I thought the fact that we hung around and got some turnovers was good. It's not all gloomy. There are some good moments and some good things that are happening. The effort is good. The guys are fighting and playing hard. It's just not crisp like it needs to be to win. The effort is outstanding. The fact that we hung around against a good football team and had a shot to win it at the end is good. I think that's the trademark of a good team. That's something we want to build on. That's not a negative to hang around and have a shot late like we did."
FROM QB MARK BRUNELL: "We didn't have the ball very long, but we should have been better than that. We never really got any momentum going. While we didn't have the ball very much in the first half, when we did have it, we were off. I don't think we threw it effectively. I don't think we ran the ball effectively. We got a decent drive at the end of the second half, but all in all, I think it was a disappointing night. Six points is not going to win any games."
"Our first two preseason games, we did some good things, and we did some good things (against Tampa Bay). We have two weeks left before the season opener and a lot could happen. Perhaps this will be a wake-up call for this team. Special teams, offense, defense – I think we were all disappointed. We're going to have to step it up and fortunately we have some time, but there is no reason why we can't turn it around, get some work done and be ready for the regular season."
(on having Fred Taylor back in the lineup) "It's good. It raises the bar in the huddle a little bit. Anything can happen, as you well know, when he has the ball back there."
NEXT WEEK: The Jaguars will open the 2003 regular season when they travel to Carolina to face the Panthers at 1:00 p.m. EDT on September 7 at Ericsson Stadium. The game will be a homecoming for Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, who was Carolina's defensive coordinator in 2002. The two expansion rivals from 1995 have played two times during the regular season, with the Jaguars having won both games. In 1996, Jacksonville won 24-14 at home, and in 1999 the Jaguars won 22-20 at Carolina. In 2002, the Panthers finished 7-9 in their first season under head coach John Fox. They have had only one winning season in franchise history (12-4 in 1996), and they were 8-8 in 1999.
NEW FACES: There are 34 new faces among the 73 players on the Jaguars' current roster. Here is the breakdown.
Unrestricted Free Agents (4) — DE Hugh Douglas, FB Marc Edwards, LB Keith Mitchell, LB Mike Peterson
Veteran Free Agents (9) — DE Lionel Barnes, S Johndale Carty, WR Matthew Hatchette, WR Donald Hayes, WR-KR Jermaine
Lewis, G Jamar Nesbit, WR J.J. Stokes, CB James Trapp, OT Sammy Williams
First-Year Free Agents (5) — RB David Allen, TE Matt Cercone, QB Quinn Gray, S Abdual Howard, CB Jason Olford
Draft Choices (9) — QB Byron Leftwich, DB Rashean Mathis, G Vince Manuwai, TE George Wrighster, RB LaBrandon Toefield,
DE Brandon Green, S David Young, OT Marques Ogden, FB Malaefou MacKenzie
Undrafted Rookies (7) — CB Chris D. Brown, WR Cortez Hankton, DT Matt Leonard, PK Seth Marler, LB Curtis Randall, C Brett
Romberg, RB Joe Smith
2003 POSITION ANALYSIS: Here is a position-by-position breakdown of the Jaguars:
Quarterbacks (4) — Mark Brunell returns for his ninth season as the only quarterback in NFL history to lead his team in passing for the franchise's first eight seasons. In 2002, Brunell started 15 games and passed for 2,788 yards and 17 touchdowns. He remains the team's starter and is still one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the league. Byron Leftwich was selected with the seventh overall pick in the draft and is the team's quarterback of the future. A strong pocket passer, he set numerous records in his college career at Marshall, where he developed a reputation as a leader who plays through injuries. He amassed 11,903 yards passing and 89 touchdowns vs. only 28 interceptions. Leftwich led the game-winning drive in the second preseason game against Miami. David Garrard, a fourth-round pick in 2002 who started the season finale, has looked impressive so far in the preseason. He and Leftwich will compete for the No. 2 job behind Brunell. Quinn Gray returned from a strong NFLEL season to compete for a backup role. Gone: Kent Graham.
Running Backs (8) — Fred Taylor started all 16 games in 2002 for the first time in his career. He rushed for 1,314 yards and caught 49 passes, scoring eight touchdowns. Now two years removed from a groin injury that sidelined him for 14 games in 2001, Taylor remains one of the most dangerous runners in football. He figures to be utilized more as a receiver in the West Coast-style offense. Taylor was sidelined with a bruised knee for the first two preseason games but has returned to the lineup. With Stacey Mack having departed as a free agent, several players are competing for the backup job. The two favorites are third-year pro Elvis Joseph (who has yet to play in the preseason because of a knee injury) and fourth-round draft choice LaBrandon Toefield. Undrafted rookie Joe Smith has impressed in limited action. Joseph did not carry the ball from scrimmage in 2002, but he did rush for 294 yards on 68 carries as an undrafted rookie in 2001. He has not played in the first three preseason games because of a knee injury. Toefield was a three-year starter at Louisiana State whose career was sidetracked by injuries, although he did rush for 2,149 yards and score 26 TDs. He gives the Jaguars a back with inside running abilities and he started the first two preseason games. The new starting fullback is Marc Edwards, a six-year veteran who won a Super Bowl with New England two years ago. Edwards is a sturdy blocker and fine receiver out of the backfield. Seventh-round draft pick Malaefou MacKenzie scored seven touchdowns on receptions last season at Southern California. David Allen, who starred this spring in the NFL Europe League (leading in all-purpose yards), could figure into the mix at running back and as a kick returner. Gone: Stacey Mack, Patrick Washington
Wide Receivers (10) — Jimmy Smith is entering his 11th NFL season and remains one of the NFL's top receivers, but he is out through Week Four due an NFL suspension. Although Smith caught only 80 passes in 2002, he surpassed 1,000 yards receiving for the seventh consecutive year, a feat accomplished by only four other players in NFL history. The job opposite Smith is being won by veteran J.J. Stokes. The other favorites are Matthew Hatchette and Donald Hayes. Stokes, a No. 1 pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 1995, has career totals of 327 receptions for 4,139 yards and 30 touchdowns. He is tall and rangy with good hands and has been working with the No. 1 offense in training camp. Hatchette led the NFL Europe League in receiving this year and is a five-year veteran. Hayes posted solid numbers in Carolina in 2000 and 2001 (118 catches for 1,523 yards and five TDs) but struggled last season in New England. He caught the game-winning TD pass against Miami. Kevin Lockett is vying for playing time and a possible role as the No. 3 or 4 receiver. Lockett joined the Jaguars midway through last season and caught two TD passes. Micah Ross and Jimmy Redmond are excellent special teams players. Jermaine Lewis was signed mainly as a kick returner. He has returned six punts for touchdowns in seven seasons (he led the league twice) and is also a fine kickoff returner (1,039 yards in 2001). Gone: Bobby Shaw, Patrick Johnson
Tight Ends (5) — Kyle Brady is one of the NFL's best tight ends. In his four seasons with the Jaguars, Brady has caught 175 passes, ranking fifth among NFL tight ends in that time. He is also a fine blocker in the running game, helping the Jaguars surpass 2,000 yards rushing three times in his four years. The backup role is uncertain. In the running are fourth-round draft choice George Wrighster (who played in the West Coast offense at Oregon) and 2002 fourth-rounder Chris Luzar (who played for offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave at Virginia in 2001). Joe Zelenka is one of the league's best long snappers. Gone: Pete Mitchell
Offensive Line (12) — The offensive line figures to be improved over 2002, when it was hit hard by injuries. The right side of the line is set with guard Chris Naeole and tackle Maurice Williams. Naeole is one of the top players on the line and a potential Pro Bowler. Williams missed 11 games with a broken leg in 2002 but has developed into one of the AFC's top young tackles. Moving to center after three years and 48 consecutive starts at left guard is Brad Meester, who last manned the pivot in college at Northern Iowa. Back in familiar territory, Meester gives the line a smart and durable leader. Battling at left guard are former Panther Jamar Nesbit and third-round draft pick Vince Manuwai. Nesbit has started 45 games in the last three years, while Manuwai was a steal in the draft and one of college football's top pass protectors in 2002. This is one of the best battles of the preseason. The incumbent left tackle, Mike Pearson, who started 11 games as a second-round pick in 2002, is battling with Leander Jordan, another former Panther. The two players are both getting strong looks before a starter is named (Pearson started the first three preseason games). Competing for backup roles are ex-Raven and Charger OT Sammy Williams and G/OT Daryl Terrell. Gone: Derrick Chambers (I.R.), Todd Fordham, Aaron Koch (I.R.), John Wade, Zach Wiegert, Chris Ziemann (I.R.),
Defensive Line (13) — The defensive line should be a team strong point. Free-agent acquisition Hugh Douglas joined the team in March and has proven to be one of the NFL's top sackers over the last eight seasons. He ranks eighth among active players with 73.5 sacks (including 12.5 in 2002). Douglas will start at right end. At left end is 11-year veteran Marco Coleman, who has 61.5 sacks and 20 forced fumbles. Coleman joined the team a year ago and started all 16 games. The interior line is huge, with 6-foot-6 Marcus Stroud poised to have a breakout season and 6-foot-7 John Henderson ready to improve upon a fine rookie season. Stroud and Henderson were the Jaguars' first-round draft picks each of the last two seasons. Each player had 6.5 sacks in 2002. Jaguars career sack leader Tony Brackens is returning from microfracture knee surgery and a June appendectomy and was activated from reserve/PUP on August 17. If he can make his way back into the lineup, he will give the team an excellent rotation at end. Paul Spicer and Lionel Barnes are reserve ends. The backups in the middle are Rob Meier and undrafted rookie Matt Leonard. Rookie DE Brandon Green (sixth round) has a non-stop motor and is pushing for playing time. Gone: Larry Smith, Clenton Ballard
Linebackers (8) — Mike Peterson signed with the team following four years with the Indianapolis Colts and is ready to go to the Pro Bowl. One of the most talented linebackers, Peterson is playing in the middle and figures to make lots of tackles behind Stroud and Henderson. The starting outside linebackers are Keith Mitchell and Akin Ayodele. Mitchell, a six-year veteran, is a big-play maker who has three career touchdowns and 19.5 sacks. Ayodele played in all 16 games as a rookie in 2002, making three starts and 108 tackles. A star defensive end at Purdue, he is a player to watch. There is plenty of depth in Danny Clark (16-game starter in 2002), T.J. Slaughter (26 career starts) and Eric Westmoreland (third-round pick in 2001 who has started four games). Gone: Wali Rainer, Bobby Brooks
Defensive Backs (14) — The four starters from 2002 return. The corners are Fernando Bryant and Jason Craft. Bryant is a former No. 1 draft pick and four-year starter who loves to play man coverage. Craft was a fifth-round draft pick in 1999 who won the starting right cornerback job last year and started all 16 games. At strong safety, Donovin Darius was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2002 and one of the hardest-hitters in the game. He excels as a run defender. FS Marlon McCree tied a team record with six interceptions in 2002. He is being pushed by second-round draft pick Rashean Mathis, a Jacksonville product. James Trapp, a 10-year veteran who has played in 144 games has been playing as the nickel back and provides excellent veteran leadership. Depth is provided by CB Kiwaukee Thomas (no missed games in three seasons) and CB Ike Charlton (former No. 2 pick of Seattle who found a home in Jacksonville in 2002). Gone: Ainsley Battles, Robert Bean, James Boyd, Steve Smith
Kickers (2) — Chris Hanson was the AFC's Pro Bowl punter in 2002, developing into the best punter in the conference in only his second full season. Last year, Hanson posted averages of 44.2 yards gross and 37.6 net, with 27 kicks inside the 20. The Jaguars led the league in downed punts. At placekicker, undrafted rookie Seth Marler has been most impressive with his long kicks (he is 5 for 5 in the preseason) to win the job over two challengers. Gone: Danny Boyd
THE TEAL IS REAL . . . In the last six seasons, the Jaguars' record is the 10th best in the NFL, 10 games behind the Green Bay Packers.
JAGUARS HAVE SEVENTH-BEST HOME RECORD AND THIRD-BEST ROAD RECORD SINCE 1996: After the Jaguars went 7-1 at ALLTEL Stadium four times from 1996 to '99, they have a 38-18 record that is tied for the seventh-best mark at home since the start of the 1996 season. On the road, the Jaguars are tied with the fourth-best record and they are one of only seven NFL teams with a better-than-.500 mark on the road dating back to November 24, 1996.
DOUGLAS IS EIGHTH-LEADING ACTIVE SACKER: Jaguars DE Hugh Douglas, the team's biggest offseason acquisition, ranks eighth among active players in sacks (he is tied with Mike Sinclair).
In fact, the Jaguars have three of the top 29 active sackers in the league, with Douglas (73.5), DE Marco Coleman (61.5) and DE Tony Brackens (49.0).
LEWIS APPROACHING PUNT RETURNS RECORDS: Jermaine Lewis signed with the Jaguars in the offseason as a veteran free agent and will be the team's primary punt and kickoff returner. A veteran of six NFL seasons with Baltimore and Houston, he is approaching several NFL records.
- Has led the NFL in punt returns two times (1997, 2000), one short of the NFL record shared by Speedy Duncan and Rick Upchurch
- Has 3,010 career punt return yards, 591 yards short of third place on the NFL's all-time list
- Has six touchdowns on punt returns, two shy of tying for third place on the NFL's all-time list
- Ranks seventh among active players with an 11.3-yard average on punt returns
HANSON LED AFC IN BOTH GROSS AND NET PUNTING: Chris Hanson, in only his second full season as the punter for the Jaguars, has established himself as one of the NFL's premier punters and was voted to the Pro Bowl last season. He led the AFC in both gross punting and net punting and ranked second in gross and third in net in the NFL.
JAGUARS ALLOWED THIRD-FEWEST SACKS IN 2002: Only one season after allowing 63 sacks in 2001, the second-highest total in the league, the Jaguars' retooled offensive line gave up only 42 sacks in 2002, the third-fewest allowed in team history.
TAKE THAT: In 2002, the Jaguars finished plus-12 in the turnover category, tied for second in the conference and tied for fifth in the NFL. The defense made 13 interceptions and recovered 12 fumbles, with an additional fumble recovery and interception on special teams. With only 15 turnovers, the Jaguars became one of only four teams in NFL history to have fewer turnovers than games played in a season.
In the last two seasons, the Jaguars' 42 turnovers is the third fewest in the NFL (behind San Francisco's 36 and N.Y. Jets' 42). In the last three seasons, the Jaguars rank fourth with only 71 turnovers (behind San Francisco's 55, Oakland's 64 and Tampa Bay's 67). In the last four seasons, the Jaguars rank second with only 89 turnovers (behind San Francisco's 87).
TAKEAWAYS/GIVEAWAYS 1993-2002: In the last 10 years, the Jaguars have the third-best takeaway/giveaway difference in the NFL, a plus-34 total (they have played only eight seasons).
THE DEFENSE DOES NOT REST ... In the six seasons from 1997 to 2002, only four teams with losing records scored more points than they allowed, and the Jaguars did it three of the four times — each of the last three years, in fact.
Despite finishing with a 6-10 record each of the last two seasons, the Jaguars allowed the third-fewest points in the AFC in that time. The Jaguars allowed only 609 points in 2001 and 2002 combined, more than only the Pittsburgh Steelers (23-8-1 record, 557 points allowed) and Miami Dolphins (20-12 record, 591 points allowed). The Oakland Raiders, for example, went 21-11 the last two years but allowed 631 points.
In the last three years, the Jaguars have allowed only 1,145 points, the fifth-lowest total in the NFL (behind Tampa Bay 980, Philadelphia 1,051, Baltimore 1,061 and Pittsburgh 1,132).
ROOKIE SACKER: Jaguars No. 1 draft choice John Henderson led NFL rookie defensive tackles in sacks, and his 6.5 sacks were the fourth most by all rookies.
DYNAMIC DUO: Defensive tackles John Henderson and Marcus Stroud, in only their first and second years in the league respectively, had the eighth-most sacks by a defensive line tandem in the AFC with 13 sacks in 2002. In addition, Stroud and Henderson were the only defensive tackle teammates in the NFL to each have as many as 6.5 sacks in 2002.
JAGUARS HAVE BALANCED OFFENSE: In the last five seasons, the Jaguars have rushed for 9,914 yards on the ground, the sixth most in the NFL. They were the only team to have more than 2,000 yards rushing each of the three seasons from 1998 to 2000 (an injury to Fred Taylor held them to 1,600 rushing yards in 2001), and they are one of only three teams to have rushed for 2,000 yards in four of the last five years. And, over the past seven seasons, the Jaguars have the seventh-most passing yards in the NFL.
JAGUARS SCORE ON THE GROUND … In the last six seasons, the Jaguars have rushed for 107 touchdowns, the most in the NFL.
… AND STOP THEIR OPPONENTS: In the last seven seasons, the Jaguars have allowed only 79 rushing TDs, the NFL's fourth-best mark.
TAYLOR HAS SIXTH-MOST TOUCHDOWNS LAST FIVE YEARS: Despite missing 24 full games and parts of nine others, Jaguars RB Fred Taylor is tied with the sixth-most touchdowns over the last five seasons among active players.
TAYLOR IN 2002: In 2002, while starting all 16 games for the first time in his career, Jaguars RB Fred Taylor set a number of team and individual milestones. He broke the team record for total yards from scrimmage (1,722), had his third 1,000-yard season (1,314, second most in a season) and set a career high for receptions (49).
BRUNELL HAS 11TH-BEST WINNING PERCENTAGE: Jaguars QB Mark Brunell has the 11th-best career winning percentage of active quarterbacks (minimum 20 wins). Brunell also owns the NFL's third-best record in divisional games (37-21, .638), and in the last eight seasons, he has the most victories of any quarterback other than Green Bay's Brett Favre.
BRUNELL'S TOUCHDOWN TARGETS: Mark Brunell has thrown 142 TD passes in eight seasons with the Jaguars. Here are the 22 players who have caught them: Jimmy Smith (44), Keenan McCardell (26), Damon Jones (11), Willie Jackson (10), Kyle Brady (9), Pete Mitchell (9), James Stewart (5), Fred Taylor (4), Ernest Givins (3), Cedric Tillman (3), Alvis Whitted (3), Andre Rison (2), Elvis Joseph (2), Patrick Johnson (2), Kevin Lockett (2), Derek Brown (1), Ty Hallock (1), Desmond Howard (1), Natrone Means (1), R. Jay Soward (1), Stacey Mack (1) and Bobby Shaw (1).
STATS AND SUCH: Mark Brunell is 63-51 in 114 regular-season starts, 67-55 overall. … WR Jimmy Smith has played in 127 of the 128 games in Jaguars history. Of the current players, next are QB Mark Brunell (117) and DE Tony Brackens (92). … The longest streak of consecutive starts is held by G Brad Meester (48), followed by TE Kyle Brady (46) and WR Jimmy Smith (39). … Eight players have played in 100 or more games during their careers: DE Marco Coleman (171), CB James Trapp (144), WR Jimmy Smith (134), TE Kyle Brady (124), QB Mark Brunell (119), WR J.J. Stokes (111), DE Hugh Douglas (106) and WR/KR Jermaine Lewis (100). … Coleman leads with 169 career starts, followed by Brady (118), Brunell (114) and Smith (106).