Sunday, November 16, 2003, 1:00 p.m. EST
The Coliseum, Nashville, Tenn.
Local Television: Regionally on CBS and locally on WTEV Ch. 47 (Ch. 6 cable),
Gus Johnson (play by play) and Brent Jones (color analyst)
Local Radio: WOKV (690 AM) and WKQL (96.9 FM) and the Jaguars Radio Network,
Brian Sexton (play by play), Jeff Lageman (color analyst) and Ryan Elijah (field reporter)
THIS WEEK: Fresh off their biggest victory in four years, the Jacksonville Jaguars will travel to Tennessee for their second straight game against an AFC South division leader when they face the Titans at 1:00 p.m. EST Sunday at The Coliseum.
The Jaguars defeated the Indianapolis Colts 28-23 last Sunday, rallying from a 20-7 halftime deficit to win their second game of the season and second under new head coach Jack Del Rio. The game had numerous milestones:
-- The Jaguars snapped a three-game losing streak
-- It was their first victory ever over the Colts following five losses
-- Won after trailing by 13 points for the third-largest comeback in Jaguars history
-- Was the Jaguars' first fourth quarter victory in 23 games
-- Was the Jaguars' first fourth quarter victory at home in three years
-- Was the Jaguars' first victory in the second half of the season over a team with a winning record since November 26, 2000
-- Outscored the Colts 21-3 in the second half and scored the winning touchdown with 1:08 to play
-- Was their most points scored in a half in two years
-- Was their most points scored under Jack Del Rio
-- The Colts entered the game with a 7-1 record, an .875 winning percentage that was the highest for any team the Jaguars have ever defeated in the second half of a season (previous: 9-2 Titans on November 26, 2000)
"This is what I've been talking about with the team," Del Rio said. "If we kept working hard, we'd have a breakout moment. The second half was indicative of the kind of football we can play against top talent. The Colts are a very good football team, and to be able to put together a half like that shows what we're capable of if we all pull together. We have to establish a mindset, and it's coming. I'm seeing my players doing what they need to do to be successful, and I'm proud we're able to see some reward."
Sunday's game against the Titans is the first of back-to-back road games for the Jaguars, who will play the New York Jets on November 23. It's also the second game against the Titans in a four-week period. Tennessee is 7-2 this season after beating the Miami Dolphins 31-7 on Sunday.
JAGUARS ON THE AIR THIS WEEK:
Monday — Jaguars Reporters, 6:00 p.m., WOKV Radio, with Brian Sexton, Vic Ketchman, Cole Pepper
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
Saturday — Jaguars Weekend, 7:30 p.m. and 12:00 a.m., WTEV Ch. 47
Sunday — THE Jaguars Show, 11:00 a.m., WTEV Ch. 47
Sunday — Coggin Pregame Show, 11:30 a.m., WTEV Ch. 47
THE OPPONENT: Formerly the Houston Oilers, the Tennessee Titans were a charter member of the American Football League, starting play in 1960. They won the first two AFL championships behind the passing of George Blanda to Charlie Hennigan, then lost the 1962 AFL title game. Behind the running of future Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell, the Oilers advanced to conference championship games in 1978 and '79. They struggled again for a number of years, then advanced to the playoffs every season from 1987 to '93, though losing in the first round of the playoffs five times and then falling to 2-14 in 1994. In 1995, they rebounded to a 7-9 record under coach Jeff Fisher, and were 8-8 for three straight seasons before their 13-3 mark in 1999. The Oilers moved to Tennessee in 1997 and played in Memphis for a season before moving to Nashville and playing at Vanderbilt in 1998. In 1999, the Titans appeared in the AFC Championship game and advanced to the Super Bowl after beating Jacksonville. In 2000, they finished 13-3 again and won the AFC Central Division, before slipping to 7-9 in 2001. In 2002, they finished 11-5, winning the AFC South and advancing to the AFC Championship game before falling to Oakland. This season, they are 7-2 and tied for first place in the AFC South.
THE SERIES: The two teams have played 17 games, with the Titans holding a 10-7 series lead (Tennessee also won the 1999 AFC Championship game). In the first five years of the series, the home team lost eight of the 10 games, and then in 2000 and 2001, the home team won both games until 2002 when the Titans swept the series. The Oilers won 10-3 in the Jaguars' inaugural game in 1995, and then the Jaguars got their first win in franchise history on October 1, 1995 by a score of 17-16 in the Astrodome. In 1996, the Oilers won 34-27 in Jacksonville and 23-17 in the Astrodome. In '97, Jacksonville won 30-24 in Memphis' Liberty Bowl, and two weeks later won 17-9 at ALLTEL Stadium. In 1998, the Jaguars won 27-22 at Vanderbilt Stadium, and then lost 16-13 later that year in their only home loss of the season. In 1999, the Titans won both regular-season games, 20-19 at ALLTEL Stadium and 41-14 at Adelphia Coliseum, as well as the AFC Championship game 33-14 at Jacksonville. In 2000, the Titans won 27-13 in Nashville and the Jaguars won 16-13 in Jacksonville. In 2001, the Jaguars won 13-6 at ALLTEL Stadium, and the Titans won the rematch 28-24 in Nashville. Last season, the Titans won 23-14 in Nashville and 28-10 in Jacksonville. On October 26 of this year, the Titans won 30-17 in Jacksonville for their fourth straight win in the series.
THE LAST TIME: The Jaguars were defeated by the Tennessee Titans 30-17 at ALLTEL Stadium on October 26, losing their sixth game of the season. The Titans jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead and never trailed, as they intercepted Byron Leftwich two times and scored 17 points off turnovers. The Jaguars controlled the ball for a franchise-low 20:46 and tied another team-low with only 11 rushes, as they lost for the third time in four home games. Eddie George scored on two one-yard runs for Tennessee, Steve McNair threw a TD pass to Tyrone Calico and Gary Anderson kicked three field goals for the Titans. In the second quarter, the Jaguars scored on a 49-yard field goal by Seth Marler and then closed the gap to 17-10 on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Leftwich to Jimmy Smith. Tennessee went ahead 27-17 in the third quarter, and in the fourth period the Titans held the ball for 11:14 in a time-consuming drive before kicking a field goal. The Jaguars got their final touchdown with five seconds to play on a five-yard pass from David Garrard to George Wrighster.
A JAGUARS VICTORY OVER THE TITANS WOULD: Be their third win of the season and second in a row, giving them them a 3-7 record. It would snap a four-game losing streak against the Titans and give them an 8-10 record in the series. It would give them their first road victory of the season and first since last December 15 at Cincinnati, ending a five-game losing streak. It would also be their third win in the AFC South in two seasons, and their first back-to-back wins in a year (Nov. 10-17, 2002).
INJURY UPDATE: There were no major injuries suffered in the Indianapolis game. Three players missed the game because of injuries: QB Mark Brunell (elbow), CB Jason Craft (knee) and DE Lionel Barnes (calf). The status of all injured players will be updated on Wednesday.
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. Jeff Fisher is in his ninth full season as the Titans' coach. He posted a record of 80-61 during his first nine seasons (he was an interim coach for the final six games of 1994), reaching the 2002 AFC Championship Game. Fisher led the Titans to the franchise's first AFC championship in 1999 and a trip to Super Bowl XXXIV. He also has guided the Titans to division titles in 2000 and 2002 (the Titans were a Wild-Card playoff team during their Super Bowl run). Fisher owns the franchise record for victories by a head coach, surpassing Bum Phillips in 2000, and he is the fourth-youngest head coach since 1960 to reach the 50-win plateau. He is only the fifth coach in NFL history to lead a team to back-to-back 13-win seasons (1999-2000). Fisher played defensive back for the Chicago Bears (1981-85). He holds club records for punt-return yards in a season (509 in 1981) and punt returns in a season (58 in 1984). His 88-yard punt return for a touchdown in 1981 was the Bears' longest in 39 years. He played at Southern California (1977-1980) with Dennis Smith and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Ronnie Lott. Fisher began his coaching career with Philadelphia (1986-1990) before moving on to the Los Angeles Rams (1990) and San Francisco (1992-93).
JACKSONVILLE-TENNESSEE CONNECTIONS: Three Jaguars have ties to the state of Tennessee: TE George Wrighster (born in Memphis), CB Fernando Bryant (Murfreesboro) and DT John Henderson (Nashville, University of Tennessee) … Eight Titans have ties to the state of Florida: DE Kevin Carter (University of Florida, Tallahassee), TE Erron Kinney (University of Florida), CB Samari Rolle (Florida State), DE Jevon Kearse (University of Florida, Fort Myers), CB Tony Beckham (Ocala), G Zack Piller (University of Florida, Tallahassee), G/OT Todd Williams (Florida State, Bradenton) … Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith had a 12-year stint at Tennessee Tech (1987-98), the last three as the defensive coordinator. He played at East Tennessee (1977-81) as a linebacker … Jaguars DL coach Ray Hamilton spent 1992 as an assistant on the University of Tennessee staff … Titans assistant head coach/offense George Henshaw coached at Florida State from 1976 to '82 … Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger was the WR coach at Florida from 1983 to '87 and a graduate assistant in 1980 … Jaguars special teams coordinator Bill Bates played at Tennessee 1979-82 … Jaguars LB coach Mike Haluchak coached from 1986-1990 with Titans assistant head coach/LB coach Gunther Cunningham with the San Diego Chargers … Jaguars OL coach Paul Boudreau and DL coach Ray Hamilton shared sidelines with Titans WR coach Steve Walters with the New England Patriots in 1997-98 … Jaguars QB Mark Brunell played at Green Bay with Titans P Craig Hentrich in 1993 and '94 … Players who were college teammates include: Jaguars RB Fred Taylor with Titans G Zack Pillar, TE Erron Kinney and DE Jevon Kearse at Florida; Jaguars G Brad Meester and Titans WR Eddie Berlin at Northern Iowa; Jaguars SS Donovin Darius and Titans LB Keith Bulluck at Syracuse; Jaguars DT John Henderson and Titans DT Albert Haynesworth at Tennessee; Jaguars LB Danny Clark and Titans RB Robert Holcombe at Illinois; Jaguars KR/RB David Allen and Titans OT Matt Martin and TE Shad Meier at Kansas State; and Jaguars LB Keith Mitchell and Titans OT Jason Mathews at Texas A&M … Jaguars LB Danny Clark and Titans WR Darrell Hill were Pop Warner teammates on the Country Club Hills (Ill.) Cougars. There are eight players on the current Jaguars roster who played in the 1999 AFC Championship game between the two teams: QB Mark Brunell, RB Fred Taylor, WR Jimmy Smith, TE Kyle Brady, DE Tony Brackens and DBs Fernando Bryant, Jason Craft and Donovin Darius. … 11 current Titans played in that game: QB Steve McNair, OTs Brad Hopkins and Jason Mathews, Gs Zach Piller and Benji Olson, TE Frank Wycheck, RB Eddie George, WR Derrick Mason, DE Jevon Kearse, CB Samari Rolle, P Craig Hentrich.
JAGUARS VS. TITANS: Here are the accumulated statistics for players in the Jaguars-Titans series:
Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich – 1 game; 15 of 28 for 158 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
Jaguars RB Fred Taylor – 9 games; 142 rushes for 562 yards, 3 TDs; 24 catches for 136 yards, 1 TD; three 100-yard games
Jaguars WR Jimmy Smith – 17 games; 71 receptions for 1,045 yards, 4 TDs; five 100-yard games
Titans QB Steve McNair – 12 games; 219 of 346 for 2,633 yards, 16 TDs, 8 INTs; 67 rushes for 419 yards, 2 TDs
Titans RB Eddie George – 15 games; 314 carries for 1,193 yards, 10 TDs
Titans TE Frank Wycheck – 18 games; 58 receptions for 558 yards, 3 TDs
LAST WEEK: Down 20-7 at halftime, the Jaguars rallied for a 28-23 victory at ALLTEL Stadium, scoring the winning touchdown on a 32-yard run by Fred Taylor with 1:08 remaining in the game. The Jaguars outscored the division-leading Colts 21-3 in the second half for their second victory of the season and snapped a three-game losing streak this year and a five-game losing streak to the Colts. Taylor rushed for a season-high 152 yards and scored two touchdowns, and the Jaguars did not turn the ball over on offense. Defensively, the Jaguars held the Colts to 47 yards rushing (only 44 yards on 15 carries by Edgerrin James) and came up with two interceptions off Peyton Manning, the second by Deke Cooper with 11 seconds left in the game. The 13-point comeback was the third-biggest in Jaguars history, and it marked the Jaguars' first fourth-quarter win at home in three years. Byron Leftwich won his second game as the Jaguars' starting quarterback, and he completed 12 of 22 passes for 179 yards (9 of 13 for 154 yards in the second half). After a first half in which the Jaguars had only 85 yards on offense, Leftwich drove the Jaguars 80 yards to open the third quarter, and he scored on a four-yard draw. In the fourth quarter, Leftwich led the Jaguars on a 93-yard drive, connecting with Jimmy Smith on a 43-yard touchdown pass to take a 21-20 lead. Mike Vanderjagt then kicked his third field goal of the game to give Indianapolis a 23-21 lead with 9:44 to play. The Jaguars drove 58 yards and lined up for a field goal attempt. But Mark Royals mishandled the snap and threw an interception to thwart the drive with 2:09 remaining. The Jaguars forced the Colts to go three-and-out, and then David Allen returned the ensuing punt 27 yards. Two plays later, Taylor ran 32 yards for the winning score.
NOTES FROM THE COLTS GAME: The Jaguars improved to 2-3 at home and 2-8 all-time in the AFC South. … The win was the Jaguars' 20th in November, more than in any other month. … The Jaguars and Colts both had 20 first downs; the Jaguars had fewer yards (353 to 394) but more time of possession (31:39 to 28:21). … The Jaguars' 353 yards was their second most of the season, but the 394 yards allowed by the Jaguars was the most since Cleveland had 417 yards on 12/8/02. … The Jaguars rushed for 174 yards, their most since getting 223 yards on 9/29/02 vs. N.Y. Jets. … Indianapolis' 47 yards rushing was the second fewest allowed by Jacksonville all season (43 by Buffalo on 9/14). … The Jaguars converted a season-high 9 of 14 third downs (most since 12/23/01) and held the Colts to 6 of 15 on third downs. … Byron Leftwich won his second game as the Jaguars' starting quarterback, more than any player other than Mark Brunell, who has 63 victories. Leftwich went into the game tied with five other Jaguars quarterbacks who had won one game each. Leftwich ran and threw for touchdowns, producing at least one TD in eight straight games (running or passing) at the start of his career, tied for the second-longest streak of players who began their careers since 1970. He trails only Mark Rypien (11) and is tied with Oliver Luck (8). Leftwich's passer rating of 96.6 was his second highest of the season. … Fred Taylor rushed for 152 yards — his fourth most ever — on 28 carries. It was his second 100-yard game of the season, both of them against the Colts. It was his 25th career 100-yard game. He scored two touchdowns for the second time this season and scored two TDs rushing for the first time since 12/10/00 vs. Arizona. His game-winning TD was the 50th of his career. … Jimmy Smith caught four passes for 87 yards, both team highs. He moved into 17th place on the NFL's all-time receiving list, passing Terance Mathis (689). Smith now has 690 career receptions. He also moved into 19th place on the all-time receiving yardage list, passing Shannon Sharpe (9,685). Smith now has 9,708 receiving yards. … Kyle Brady caught two passes and passed Pete Mitchell, moving into third place on the team's all-time receiving list with 193 catches. … The Jaguars had two turnovers and two takeaways and are still minus-five for the season. Neither turnover was on offense (a fumble by Donovin Darius after his interception, and an interception by Mark Royals after a mishandled snap on a field goal attempt). … Darius' interception was the ninth of his career, moving him ahead of Chris Hudson into second place in Jaguars history. FS Deke Cooper's interception was the first of his career. … Mark Royals punted four times for a 36.0-yard average, with no touchbacks and one inside the 20. He had two kicks returned for 22 yards and a 30.5-yard net average. With the four punts, he moved into sixth place in NFL history with 1,086 career punts, passing John James (1,083). … The Jaguars made no sacks for the third straight game but didn't allow any for the second time this season. It was the first time in the Jaguars' 137 games that neither team had a sack. … Three players had double-digit tackles: MLB Mike Peterson (15, 7 solo), SLB Akin Ayodele (14, 12 solo) and CB Rashean Mathis (10 solo). … Every player who dressed saw action except QB David Garrard and G/OT Leander Jordan. The inactive players were: QB Mark Brunell, CB Jason Craft, LB Keith Mitchell, OT/G Sammy Williams, OL Marques Ogden, WR Matthew Hatchette, WR J.J. Stokes and DE Lionel Barnes. … Jaguars captains were: C Brad Meester, SS Donovin Darius and S Nick Sorensen.
FROM COACH JACK DEL RIO ON THE COLTS GAME: (on what he said to the team at halftime) "I am proud of the way we responded in the second half. I spoke to the team (at halftime) and asked them to respond in a way that was indicative of who we can be, and that it was time. Today we felt we had paid enough of the price; it was time to get the results. We had to come away with a way to get it done. We came out determined to make it our day and we found a way. We were resilient and persistent."
(on the punt return after the blown field goal attempt) "We made a play to win the game. That put us in position to win the game. Defensively, guys said we're not even going to flinch. We're going to get the ball back. And to get it back the way they did. Sure, the punt return was nice. But that situation (the missed field goal try), for the air to come out of the team, we did not allow that to happen. On defense, those guys looked me right in the eye and said, 'Coach, don't worry, we're getting the ball right now. We're getting it back. Do you want the timeouts?' They never flinched; they never questioned. They went out and got the ball back and we got the excellent punt return and won the game."
(on Fred Taylor) "The line blocked well. One of our guys spoke up (to Mike Doss) and we had to back him up. We came out and backed him up today. The offensive line, tight ends, receivers, they all helped Fred back it up. Fred was a stud out there. Fred showed in the first half of the first game (at Indianapolis in Week 3) if we fed it to him that he had success, and they were going to have to prove they could slow him down before we would quit giving it to him.
(on stopping the Colts' running game) "I think it's the key in the NFL, period. You have to be able to stop people from running the ball at you, and we were able to do that effectively. When you're forced to throw all day, the defense is able to find a way to come up with interceptions, sacks, negative plays. We were able to do that and come back with a couple of turnovers."
(on what the victory meant to him) "I have some good mentors in the league, people I trust. Whenever I asked them for advice, they always said, 'Stay the course.' When I get that type of support, it makes it a little easier to continue doing the right things.
(on whether this victory turned the corner) "Well, we did today. Now we'll go back to work and get ready for the next game."
FROM QB BYRON LEFTWICH: (on the play of Fred Taylor) "The things Fred allows us to do as an offense takes a lot of pressure off everybody. When you hand the ball off to No. 28, 99 percent of the time something good is going to happen. He's been doing these things for a while now, and I'm glad I'm on his team."
(on having no turnovers in the game) "That's what we wanted to do. We wanted to go through the game with no turnovers. When you do that against a team and they have the turnovers, the odds go in your favor. We started off slow and we just weren't clicking and then we started clicking in the second half."
(on what the locker room was like this week) "I don't think we were going to allow ourselves to lose today no matter what. Even after the botched field goal (attempt) I knew our defense was going to hold it so I went to Seth (Marler) and Mark (Royals) and Joe (Zelenka) and told them we were going to get another shot so don't worry about it."
(on his mechanics) "I was just playing football today. During the game, you can't allow yourself to worry about those things. You work on those things during the week, but when it's game time you just go play. You can't go out there and with every pass think about your technique and mechanics. You have to do those things during the week so on Sunday it's just a part of what you do. It wasn't like I was using bad technique every play, it was just a few plays where I would get lazy. Hopefully, when I watch the film I won't see any bad technique."
(on the offensive line) "The offensive line did a heck of a job. All week we heard about their defensive line, and they came out and did a heck of a job. The offensive line allows us to do the things we do as an offense. They went out and held the fort down and made it possible for us to win this game. They've been playing well all year."
FROM RB FRED TAYLOR: (on his comments towards the Colts' Mike Doss) "Normally, I'll take the silent approach. I felt he disrespected me (in Week 3's game) and I wanted him to get the message. The guys said they were going to back me up. They ran with it and they did a great job fighting for the win."
(on if the team needed someone to step up and make that type of comment) "I don't know. We always go into each game looking forward to playing hard and competing, no matter who we're playing. I took his comments personally and I wanted to challenge him. I wanted to give him credit for the play he made in Indianapolis, but that wasn't enough — he had to push my head into the ground. I just felt like saying something. Luckily, everything came true at the end of the game."
FROM WR JIMMY SMITH: "We had a good week of practice and we just had a feeling around here. The coaches were saying things and the players were saying things. Last week's game vs. Baltimore, we had the turnovers. We still had a good chance to win that game, minus the turnovers. We knew we had to focus on not turning the ball over and playing good football. We came out today against one of the better teams in the NFL and got a victory."
(on Fred Taylor's performance) "Give Fred a lot of credit, but even more credit goes to the offensive line. They've been taking a lot of slack this season, but they were out there. They really battled. "
(on his separation from the defender for his TD reception) "That's one of my strengths. I just try to save a gear when the ball goes up in the air. Byron told me that I couldn't outrun his arm but I'm still waiting. That was the called play and we had one-on-one coverage on the outside and I was able to beat him."
FROM DT MARCUS STROUD: (on holding RB Edgerrin James to under 50 yards) "We wanted this game bad. We had a lot of close games this year in which we went out and played hard, but we just weren't able to finish. Today we were able to finish. We wanted to go out and show the fans that we could finish a game and win."
(on facing the Titans next week) "That's always a big game for us. They're having a pretty good season. Steve McNair is on fire, so we just have to go out, do our thing and try to stop them."
NEXT WEEK: The Jaguars will go back on the road when they face the New York Jets at 1:00 p.m. EST Sunday, November 23 at Giants Stadium. It will be the fifth regular-season meeting between the Jaguars and Jets, with Jacksonville holding a 3-1 lead in the series (the Jets also won a 1998 playoff game). This season, the Jets are 3-6 and in fourth place in the AFC East. It will also the mark the eighth year out of nine that the Jaguars have played a game in Giants Stadium (including preseason and postseason).
LEFTWICH RANKS NO. 2 among rookie passers from 1983-2003.
THE RUSH STOPS HERE: In the last eight games, the Jaguars have held opposing starting ballcarriers to an average of 57 yards per game and an average of only 2.9 yards per rush. For the season, the Jaguars rank fourth in the NFL in rushing defense (87.9 yards per game) and second in the NFL in rushing yards per attempt (3.2).
Under head coach Jack Del Rio, the Jaguars' defense has improved from 20th overall in 2002 to 12th this year, and the run defense has improved from 25th a year ago to fourth.
The Jacksonville run defense is on pace to be better than the Carolina defense in 2002, when Del Rio was the Panthers' defensive coordinator. Last season, the Panthers finished eighth in run defense, allowing 103 yards per game and first in average per rush (3.7). The Jaguars are allowing only two rushing yards more per game than the 85.9 yards rushing allowed by the No. 1-ranked Steelers in 2002.
SMITH 17TH AND 19TH AMONG ALL-TIME RECEIVERS: Jaguars WR Jimmy Smith ranks 17th on the NFL's all-time receiving list and 19th in career receiving yards. Smith has 690 career receptions for 9,708 yards.
BRADY RANKS NO. 5 AMONG TIGHT ENDS: In the last five seasons, the Jaguars' Kyle Brady has the fifth most receptions of active tight ends.
TAYLOR HAS SEVENTH-MOST TOUCHDOWNS LAST FIVE YEARS: Despite missing 24 full games and parts of nine others, Jaguars RB Fred Taylor has scored the seventh-most touchdowns over the last six seasons among active players.
NEW FACES: There are 29 new faces among the 53 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 (11) — DE Lionel Barnes, S Deke Cooper, WR Troy Edwards, RB Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, WR Matthew Hatchette, LB Deon Humphrey, G Jamar Nesbit, P Mark Royals, S Nick Sorensen, WR J.J. Stokes, OT/G Sammy Williams
First-year free agents (1) — RB/KR David Allen
Trade (1) — S Anthony Mitchell
Draft Choices (8) — QB Byron Leftwich, DB Rashean Mathis, G Vince Manuwai, TE George Wrighster, RB LaBrandon Toefield, OT Marques Ogden, CB Blue Adams (signed off Tampa Bay's practice squad), LB Tony Gilbert (signed off Arizona's practice squad)
Undrafted Rookies (4) — CB Chris Brown, WR Cortez Hankton, DT Matt Leonard, PK Seth Marler
O-LINE AND D-LINE: For the first time in Jaguars history, the starting offensive line and defensive line have stayed the same for the first nine games.
The offensive line of LT Mike Pearson, LG Vince Manuwai, C Brad Meester, RG Chris Naeole and RT Maurice Williams has started all nine games, with all of the starters except Manuwai and Pearson having played every offensive snap (both players have alternated some with their backups).
In 1997, the offensive line did not change for the first 10 games of the season (LT Tony Boselli, LG Ben Coleman, C Dave Widell, RG Rich Tylski and RT Leon Searcy). For the 11th game, Michael Cheever moved in at center, and then there were numerous changes the rest of the season due to injuries.
In the franchise's first eight seasons, the defensive line had never gone past the fourth game of the season before the starters changed. This year, the starters — LE Tony Brackens, DTs Marcus Stroud and John Henderson, and RE Hugh Douglas — play 40 to 90 percent of the defensive snaps, while often rotating with backups such as DEs Lionel Barnes and Paul Spicer and DTs Rob Meier and Matt Leonard.
JAGUARS ROOKIE STARTERS ON OPENING DAY: Two members of this year's draft class started the season opener, becoming the 11th and 12th rookies to start for the Jaguars on opening day.
1995 — OT Brian DeMarco, TE Pete Mitchell, RB James Stewart
1996 — LB Kevin Hardy
1997 — None
1998 — S Donovin Darius
1999 — CB Fernando Bryant
2000 — G Brad Meester, DB Kiwaukee Thomas
2001 — S Marlon McCree, OT Maurice Williams
2002 — None
2003 — G Vince Manuwai, S Rashean Mathis
JAGUARS IN THE COMMUNITY: Each week during the NFL season, Jaguars players are involved in the community making visits to schools and other non-profit agencies. Here are some visits for this week (there are no school appearances scheduled for this week, as schools are closed in observance of Veteran's Day).
Tuesday, November 11
7:00 – 9:00 p.m. RB LaBrandon Toefield will sign autographs for fans at Dick & Janes Sports Cards located at 1819 Dean Road
Friday, November 14
4:00 – 6:00 p.m. DE Brandon Green, S Nick Sorensen and WRs Matthew Hatchett and Jimmy Redmond will meet fans and sign autographs at the Avenues Mall on the Southside.
JAGUARS AMONG THE LEAGUE LEADERS: The Jaguars rank 13th in the NFL in total offense (17th rushing, ninth passing), and they are 12th in defense (fourth rushing and 24th passing). … QB Byron Leftwich is eighth in the AFC in passing with a 77.0 passer rating. … PK Seth Marler is 11th in the AFC with 52 points (19 of 19 PATS, 11 of 16 FGAs). … RB Fred Taylor is fifth in the AFC with 735 rushing yards and is 16th in the AFC with 38 receptions (third among running backs). He ranks fifth in the conference with 1,026 yards from scrimmage, his fourth season with more than 1,000 yards. He is also tied for fifth in the AFC with five touchdowns. … P Mark Royals ranks fifth in the AFC with a 36.5-yard net average and 11th in the AFC with a 41.3 gross average. … David Allen is seventh in the AFC with a 9.6 average on punt returns. … DE Tony Brackens is tied for 16th in the AFC with four sacks.
STATS AND SUCH: A total of 16 players have started every game this season (seven on offense and nine on defense): OTs Mike Pearson and Maurice Williams, Gs Vince Manuwai and Chris Naeole, C Brad Meester, RB Fred Taylor, FB Marc Edwards, DEs Tony Brackens and Hugh Douglas, DTs Marcus Stroud and John Henderson, LBs Mike Peterson and Akin Ayodele, CB Fernando Bryant, and S Donovin Darius and S/CB Rashean Mathis. … In nine games, the Jaguars have used three different starting lineup combinations on offense and the defense used four different starting combinations.
The Jaguars have used turnovers to score 24 points, while their opponents scored 65 points off Jaguars' turnovers. … The Jaguars have had 12 plays of 30 or more yards in 2003. They had only 16 plays of 30-plus yards in 2002, 11 in 2001, 26 in 2000, 23 in 1999, 29 in 1998, 22 in 1997, 26 in 1996 and 12 in 1995. The Jaguars have allowed 13 30-plus plays this season… Of the Jaguars' 184 completed passes, 91 have been to wide receivers, 26 to tight ends and 67 to running backs. … The Jaguars are 5 for 12 on fourth-down conversions; their opponents are 5 for 6 … On 21 drives inside the opponent's 20, the Jaguars have scored 12 touchdowns and six field goals. Their opponents have had 27 trips inside the red zone and have come away with 15 touchdowns and 10 field goals. … Jaguars opponents have begun 14 possessions inside their own 20 and scored on one of those drives (1 TD), while the Jaguars have begun 24 possessions inside their own 20 and scored on seven of those drives (5 TDs, 2 FGs). … In nine seasons, the Jaguars are 17 for 27 on two-point conversions (0 for 1 in 2003), while their opponents are 8 for 26 (1 for 3 in 2003). … In nine seasons, the Jaguars' record for each month is: 1-0 in August, 16-17 in September, 14-21 in October, 20-13 in November, 18-15 in December and 1-1 in January. … In 2003, the Jaguars have outscored their opponents in the second quarter (50-44), and have been outscored in the first quarter (17-55), third quarter (47-54) and fourth quarter (58-78).
Mark Brunell is 63-54 in 117 regular-season starts, 67-58 overall. Byron Leftwich is 2-4. … WR Jimmy Smith has played in 132 of the 137 games in Jaguars history. Of the current players, next are QB Mark Brunell (120) and DE Tony Brackens (101). … The longest streak of consecutive starts is held by C Brad Meester (57), followed by WR Jimmy Smith (44) and then four players with 24 consecutive starts: CB Fernando Bryant, RB Fred Taylor, DT Marcus Stroud and G Chris Naeole (who has 65 straight starts dating back to 1999 with New Orleans) … The Jaguars' current longest streak of games played is held by TE Kyle Brady (59), followed by Meester and DT Rob Meier (57 each). … Eight players have played in 100 or more games during their careers: P Mark Royals (217), WR Jimmy Smith (139), TE Kyle Brady (133), QB Mark Brunell (122), WR J.J. Stokes (117), DE Hugh Douglas (115), FB Marc Edwards (105) and DE Tony Brackens (101). … Brady leads with 126 career starts, followed by Brunell (117) and Smith (111).