WHERE: ALLTEL Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida
SPREAD: Jaguars by 3
WHERE THE JAGUARS STAND: The Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers matchup will be both teams' second preseason game of the 2002 season. The Jags were realigned from the AFC Central Division into the AFC South Division during the offseason.
JAGUARS HEAD COACH: Tom Coughlin (0-0 all-time vs. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden).
JAGUARS OFFENSIVE COORINATOR: Tom Coughlin
JAGUARS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: John Pease
JAGUARS SPECIAL TEAMS COACH: John Bonamego
HOW THE BUCS RANK IN THE NFL (2001):
OFFENSE OVERALL: 26th (tied) RUSHING: 30th PASSING: 15th
DEFENSE OVERALL: 6th RUSHING: 12th PASSING: 5th
HOW THE JAGUARS RANK IN THE NFL (2001):
OFFENSE: OVERALL: 20th RUSHING: 26th PASSING: 18th
DEFENSE: OVERALL: 16th RUSHING: 10th PASSING: 22nd
MATCHUP TO WATCH Jaguars RB Fred Taylor vs. Bucs MLB Shelton Quarles:
Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor is one of the best in the league when healthy, but that's something he hasn't been over the last couple of years. He's missed 24 games over the past four seasons (groin injury). Taylor is a powerful straight-ahead runner that can take over a game quickly. Taylor had a great start to the 2002 preseason last week when he rushed eight times for 42 yards. The Jags have a solid backup in Stacey Mack, who averaged 4.1 yards per carry in place of the injured Taylor last season.
Tampa Bay's run defense had a question mark on it going into the 2002 season, but they might have answered some questions on Monday night when they held Miami to just 70 yards rushing. Dolphins star RB Ricky Williams rushed five times for just nine yards (1.8 avg.).
Bucs middle linebacker Shelton Quarles played a big part in stuffing the Dolphins' rushing attack. He hit gaps hard and demonstrated the speed the Bucs' coaches had been praising him for all offseason. Quarles will have to stay disciplined again on Friday night when he attempts to contain Taylor. The Jags running back is one of the best in the league at breaking tackles.
THE JAGS AT HOME:
Jacksonville has posted a 37-19 record at ALLTEL Stadium since the team entered the NFL in 1996. But in 2001, the Jags were just 3-8 at home.
DID YOU KNOW…
..The Jaguars lost six games in the final five minutes and 13 seconds last season?
JAGS PRO BOWL WR SMITH STILL A HOLDOUT:
Jacksonville Pro Bowl wide receiver Jimmy Smith will not play on Friday night. He has been a training camp holdout due to a dispute over his contract. Jacksonville's offense definitely missed the speedy Smith last week when Jags' quarterbacks threw for just 29 yards and produced a total of 160 yards of offense against Atlanta.
Jags wide receivers Bobby Shaw and Patrick Johnson will start on Friday night.
JUST FOR KICKS:
For the first time in the Jags' history, Mike Hollis is not the team's placekicker. Hayden Epstein and Dereck Schorejs are competing for the job. Epstein drilled both of his field goal attempts against Atlanta last week.
JAGS QB BRUNELL STILL A SERIOUS THREAT:
Jacksonville QB Mark Brunell, 32, is entering his eigth season with the Jags. He still is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but he doesn't have the talent around him that he did have when the Jags were a legitimate playoff contender. Brunell was sacked a league-high 57 times last season, but if Jacksonville's young offensive line can hold off Tampa Bay's relentless pass rush, he could move the ball through the air on the Bucs. Tampa Bay's defense didn't record any sacks last week.
The Jags quarterbacks were sacked five times by Atlanta last week. Brunell isn't the running threat he once was, but he could find running room against Tampa Bay's defense, who allowed Miami's quarterbacks to rush for 18 yards and make several plays rolling out of the pocket.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE MIAMI DOLPHINS
Visit the Jacksonville Jaguars' official web site and TheInsiders' Jacksonville Jaguar web site for more information on Tampa Bay's next opponent – the Jacksonville Jaguars.
BUCS SOUND OFF ON THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS:
BUCS HEAD COACH JON GRUDEN ON THE JAGUARS' OFFENSIVE STRUGGLES:
"I don't put a lot of stock in the preseason games. Maybe I'm wrong on that, but the objectives of the preseason I think are a lot different than they are in the regular season. When you play three different quarterbacks, and you play 83 different men, it's hard to have the same objectives that you do during the regular season. There is not a lot of specific game plan going on. But I don't look at a team that scoring 30 points a game in the preseason as an offensive juggernaut necessarily. Because it's just not the same level playing field that they are going to see in the regular season."
GRUDEN ON JAGUARS' RUNNING BACK FRED TAYLOR:
"He looks like a live wire again. He's running very confidently. He can run you over, he can make you miss or he can knock you out. He's a great back."
GRUDEN ON WHAT HE HOPES TO SEE AGAINST THE JAGUARS:
"We want to eliminate any errors that we had in the last game. Obviously we want to improve our pass protection with the second group. We want to continue to develop in all phases of our football. We want to try and get some turnovers, we'd like to score points and we'd like to continue to make big plays in the kicking game. But all phases of our football we need to improve. This game particularly looms large for a lot of guys that are trying to make this football team. So we are going to play a lot of men and some for extended periods."
FORMER JAGS AND NEW BUCS WR KEENAN McCARDELL ON IF HE IS FOLLOWING THE JAGUARS THIS YEAR:
"It's kind of funny you ask. I watched on Sunshine Network. Frank keeps the channel on Sunshine Network. A lot of times I'm like, ‘I'm tired of football.' I'm trying to cut it off, but he wants to watch it. It happened to be on that day. I'm over that. It's time to play. The only thing that really concerns me there is my good friend Jimmy [Smith]. I really think he should be paid the way he should be. They're actually flirting with a future Hall-of-Famer [who is] arguably their best player ever in their history. And they're messing with him. It's unbelievable. The guy missing two games in seven years. I missed one game in six, and they get rid of [me]. You can't explain what their organization is doing now, so you just let them do their thing."
McCARDELL ON IF HE AND FRANK MURPHY (former Jacksonville resident) CAN PUT THE DISTRACTIONS OF GOING BACK TO JACKSONVILLE ASIDE TO PLAY FOOTBALL:
"Oh, no doubt. I think for me, myself, I'm not getting overly excited about it right now because I want top be able to go out and play my game. If I get over anxious doing this, you make mistakes. You kind of just feel your way through the pregame. All this week, don't get all excited right now. Let all the excitement happen on the field. Just play. I'm not really getting eager to go back. When I step out on the field, when I step into ALLTEL Stadium and it's time to line up, I'll be ready to play."
McCARDELL ON WHAT WILL MOTIVATE HIM FRIDAY:
"It's going to be fun. I'm not even worried about what's going to happen. I'm going out to have fun. If you have fun, you are going to play well. I just want to see our team fly around and get better this week. Because it is a short week, I just want us to go out and prove that we work here in short weeks and we go out and get our job done even in shorts and no pads. We can get it done and go out and play."
McCARDELL ON IF THIS GAME IS A DIFFERENT ROAD GAME TO HIM:
"It's another road game. Like you said, it's my stadium. I filled that stadium. [After] six years, I know that stadium in and out. So I'm going to be comfortable. I'm not worried about where I dress. I could dress out in the parking lot. Once I walk through those gates and on that field, I'm going to feel comfortable. I've been there. It's kind of funny. I felt comfortable in Raymond James [Stadium] on Monday night. I guess it's just me being a vet. Come in and do what you have to do. It's football wherever you play. If we play in the parking lot or we play in the sandlot, it's football."
McCARDELL ON LEAVING JACKSONVILLE:
"I was a little bitter because I knew you were breaking up a great tandem, a great threesome. Three guys that have played together for six years, that have been very productive in the league, that knew how to win, that went out through injury, played hurt and gave their all for the organization, and you break up a tandem like that. Why would you break up a tandem that has been so productive, probably the only constant thing you have on the team? Every year you could say, ‘all right. These three guys are coming in and they are going to play every game, they are going to put up big numbers and they are going to help us win.' If we could only get some people around them to help them. I don't know. That's their mindset, but their mindset would be ‘well, we've had these guys and we haven't won.' Don't look at us. We did what we were supposed to do. We did what you asked. We go out every day, play hard and go to work every day with no media craziness and off the field stuff."
McCARDELL ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TOM COUGHLIN AND GRUDEN:
"[Gruden has] a lot more feeling for players. I just think he feels his players, he knows his players a little bit better than Tom. He doesn't feel like he has to push a guy's buttons to make him play. Tom thinks he has to push everybody's buttons to make that guy play. If you have a guy that is a self-motivated, a vet that you know is going to show up and play every Sunday, you don't have to grind on him as you would a young guy that you don't know if he is going to be there or not. Those are the types of guys you have to push their buttons. I think Tom thinks he has to push everybody's buttons."
GRUDEN ON WHAT HE WANTS TO SEE FROM THE BUCS' OFFENSIVE LINE TOMORROW:
"We are excited to see what a week's, or three days or two days preparation can do for our offensive line. Todd Washington obviously knows he's going into the game as a starter, so his mindset I think will be a little different than it was Monday night. Hopefully, we have a little continuity in there. Guys are prepared to play, and they'll be physical and precise in what they are doing."
How will Tampa Bay play on the road with just three days in-between Friday night's game against Jacksonville and last Monday's game against Miami? Well, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden gave his players a relatively easy week of practice by allowing the team to conduct its four workouts in shorts.
The Bucs didn't have much time to game plan for the Jags, but they might not need it. Jacksonville's offense is starving without WR Jimmy Smith (holdout) and the team's offensive line, which gave up a whopping 57 sacks last season, doesn't look like it has improved much.
Tampa Bay's secondary allowed Miami to throw for 235 yards last Monday. But Jacksonville's quarterbacks threw for just 29 yards against Atlanta last week. Both of these units are looking to rebound, but if Tampa Bay's defense can get to Brunell, which it should be able to do quite often, the Jags' offense likely will struggle again.
If the Bucs want to stop Jacksonville's offense, they'll have to contain the running game, which is carried by RB Fred Taylor. The Bucs' defense played well against the run last week and they'll have to do it again on Friday night.
Tampa Bay's offense should be able to move the ball a bit easier than they were able to do against Miami's defense. Atlanta rushed for over 100 yards and gained over 300 yards of total offense against Jacksonville's defense last week.
The short week could translate into some sloppy play and tired legs for the Pewter Pirates, but they're good enough to overcome the adversity. The Jaguars are at home and they've had a week of rest, but that's about all they have going for them at this point.
FLYNN'S PICK Bucs 30 Jaguars 10
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