Jags Face A Similar Opponent Sunday

The Jags and Bucs have had similar issues this season, and it's more than possible both will have new coaches in the next month.

Two of the youngest coaches in the league will duel Sunday when the Jaguars host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris is the youngest at 35 while Jaguars interim coach Mel Tucker and Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin are both 39, but Tucker is two months older than Tomlin.

Tucker was named the interim coach when Jack Del Rio was fired after the team fell to 3-8.

Tucker will coach the last five games on an interim basis and hopes to win enough games to keep the job on a permanent basis.

The Jaguars will play two games in five days next week because they go to Atlanta on Thursday night Dec. 15.

Tucker is only the third coach in Jaguars history. Tom Coughlin was fired after eight seasons in which he went to the AFC title game twice and Del Rio was fired after winning just one playoff game in eight years and 11 months. Tampa Bay was 10-6 last year in Morris' second season but fell to 4-8 after losing to Carolina 38-19 Sunday.

They had to play Josh Johnson at quarterback last week against Tampa because Josh Freeman was out with a shoulder injury. Tampa Bay has lost six in a row and seven of the last eight following a 3-1 start.

The Jaguars appear to have the edge in this game running the ball and on defense.

Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the best running backs in the league while the Jaguars defense has been stout all year.

The Jaguars have played Tampa Bay only four times and have a 3-1 lead in the series. They lost a 17-16 verdict to the Bucs in their inaugural season in 1995 and have won the last three meetings between the two teams, including a 24-23 victory in 2007, the last time the Jaguars went to the playoffs.

Until this season, though, the Jaguars had played the Bucs in the preseason nine years in a row.

Rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who has struggled much of the season since becoming the starter in the third game, might be able to have a good game because the Bucs have one of the league's worst defenses.

Gabbert has played against five of the top six defenses in the league (the Jaguars are the ones he hasn't faced) and beaten only Baltimore.

Gabbert hasn't been helped by the fact that the receiving corps has been shaky. The Jaguars even cut Jason Hill, who started 10 of the first 11 games, after Del Rio was fired.

Tucker said it's a production business and Hill caught only 25 passes in the 10 games he played. When Hill was cut, Jarett Dillard moved into the starting lineup alongside Mike Thomas, who's also the team's punt returner.

Tucker is in his third season as a Jaguars assistant coach and previously served four years with the Cleveland Browns after college stops at Michigan State, Miami of Ohio, LSU and Ohio State.

Tucker was put in charge of the defense this year and he brought a quick tempo rhythm to the defense that he has stressed for the entire season since he was named the interim coach.

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