THIS WEEK: The Jacksonville Jaguars will open their 2002 preseason schedule when they travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Georgia Dome.
It will be the Jaguars' first game since a 33-13 loss to the Chicago Bears on January 6 — more than seven months ago. They made a lot of personnel moves during the offseason in an attempt to end a string of back-to-back losing seasons.
The coaching staff will get its first chance to evaluate the 2002 squad, as the Jaguars enter the game with 47 new players and could have as many as 10 new starters. The new players include six unrestricted free agents, six veteran free agents, 13 first-year free agents, two trade acquisitions, one player obtained off waivers, nine draft picks and 10 undrafted rookies.
The Jaguars have an 18-11 record in the preseason in their first seven seasons, and they have won their preseason opener three straight years.
TELEVISION BROADCAST: The game will be televised locally on WJXT Channel 4, with Sam Kouvaris calling the play-by-play, former Jaguar Jeff Lageman adding analysis and ex-Jaguar Tom McManus as the field reporter. The Jaguars Pregame Show airs 30 minutes before kickoff at 7:00 p.m. on WJXT with hosts Jennifer Candelino and McManus.
RADIO BROADCAST: All Jaguars games are broadcast on WOKV (690 AM) and WKQL (96.9 FM) and the Jaguars Radio Network. Brian Sexton calls the play-by-play and former NFL quarterback Matt Robinson adds analysis, with Jennifer Candelino serving as field reporter. Sexton and Robinson are in their eighth season together. Robinson, Vic Ketchman and Cole Pepper handle the pre-game show (three hours before kickoff on all three stations), and Pepper and ex-Oakland Raider Pete Banaszak do the post-game show. A total of 16 affiliates in three states on the Jaguars Radio Network will also broadcast the game.
ON THE INTERNET: This week, the Jaguars website unveiled a re-designed look. For breaking news, columns, feature stories, press releases, historical information, video highlights, rosters, depth charts and statistics, go to www.jaguars.com
Updated daily, the Jaguars' Official Web Site has been ranked among the 100 Best Sites in the World by PC Magazine. The site also features online ticket buying, new merchandise offerings and multimedia, including video of Jaguars television shows and live radio game broadcasts.
THE OPPONENT: The Atlanta Falcons entered the NFL as an expansion team in 1966, going 3-11 in their first season. The team had it's first winning season in 1971, going 7-6-1, and they made the playoffs for the first time in 1978, winning their first game before losing in the second round. The Falcons won their first division title in 1980 and they advanced to the playoffs again in 1982. However, they finished out of postseason play for the next 10 years. In 1997, Atlanta hired Dan Reeves as its 10th head coach. He led the team to a 7-9 record in 1997 and then a franchise-best record of 14-2, the NFC championship and its first Super Bowl appearance in '98, although they were defeated by the Denver Broncos 34-19 in Miami. Since then, Reeves' Falcons have finished 5-11, 4-12 and 7-9 in 2001, when they lost their last two games. This season, they will compete in the NFC South Division with Carolina, New Orleans and Tampa Bay.
THE SERIES: The two teams have played two times during the regular season, with Jacksonville having won both games.
The first matchup between the Jaguars and Falcons was on December 22, 1996 in Jacksonville, the infamous "Morten's Miss" game in which Falcons placekicker Morten Andersen was wide left on a 30-yard field goal attempt that gave the Jaguars a 19-17 victory and sent them into the playoffs for the first time ever. In 1999, the Jaguars defeated the Falcons 30-7 in Atlanta on their way to a league-best 14-2 record. The two teams also met twice in the preseason. In 1997, Jacksonville won at home 26-17, and in 2000, the Falcons won 31-20 in Jacksonville.
THE LAST TIME: The Jaguars beat the Falcons 30-7 at the Georgia Dome on November 7, 1999 and improved to a then-franchise-best record of 7-1. Mark Brunell threw for three touchdowns and Fred Taylor rushed for 124 yards. But the Jaguars' defense was the story of the day. It registered a team-record nine sacks and caused four turnovers, while holding an opponent to single-digit points for the fifth time in the first eight games of the season. Jacksonville held Atlanta to 182 total yards — just 58 in the second half and only 101 yards on their 10 drives other than their one scoring possession.