3 Jacksonville Jaguars A new, less dictatorial coach and a fun-loving defensive star have everyone smiling at last

August 31, 2003

A curious reporter posed the question, and Hugh Douglas answered
the only way he knows--candidly. The period for signing
unrestricted free agents was only a few days old when Douglas was
asked if he might join the Jaguars following five seasons with
the Eagles. He said if he did, it would be "only for the money."

It was a throwaway line, but now that the three-time Pro Bowl
defensive end is a Jaguar, he's still trying to live it down. He
says he hadn't realized at the time that Jacksonville ranked
higher in total defense (20th in the NFL) than his most ardent
suitors, Kansas City and Seattle. Nor had he studied
Jacksonville's roster closely enough to see that it had some
really talented players. "Eventually I realized the situation
wasn't that bad," he says.

Though Douglas did go for the money (he received a $6 million
signing bonus), he believes Jacksonville has more promise than
last season's 6-10 record might suggest. Jack Del Rio, the
player-friendly new coach who was hired last January to replace
straitlaced Tom Coughlin, wants his defense to set a tone, and
the 6'2", 280-pound Douglas should be just what the Jaguars'
tepid pass rush needed. Douglas has 73 1/2 sacks in eight NFL
seasons, and last year he notched 12 1/2, despite playing nearly
half the season with a painful bone bruise on his left knee.
Jacksonville had only 36 sacks in 2002, and no Jaguar got more
than 6 1/2.

Mike Smith, the Jaguars' new defensive coordinator, loves
Douglas's exceptional lower-body strength, quick hands and
relentlessly aggressive play. Smith also hopes that Douglas will
have a positive impact in the locker room. He was the resident
jester in Philadelphia, gleefully baiting teammates and often
supplying the funniest quotes to reporters. He has been more
subdued since coming to Jacksonville, but Del Rio says, "He'll
lighten things up, which is what we want to do with this group."

Douglas, 32, has already found plenty of other jokesters in his
new workplace. "I think I'm getting paid back for all the stuff I
pulled in Philadelphia," he says. "There isn't a day that goes by
that I'm not the butt of somebody's joke. [Linebacker] Eric
Westmoreland rips on my hair and my clothes every chance he gets.
I've learned there's a lot of personality on this team. The guys
probably couldn't show it under the last coach, but they're
letting it out now."

Jacksonville's defense could create problems for opponents if
Douglas hits double digits in sacks. The health of defensive end
Tony Brackens--who is recovering from an appendectomy and
microfracture surgery on his left knee--remains uncertain, but
promising defensive tackles John Henderson and Marcus Stroud, who
each had 6 1/2 sacks in 2002, are both back. Seeking to improve
the unit's speed, the Jaguars added free-agent linebackers Mike
Peterson, who led the Colts in tackles in 2002, and Keith
Mitchell. Jacksonville should be more aggressive, reflecting the
principles Del Rio used while coordinating a Panthers' defense
that ranked second in the league last season. "Our attitude is
focused on playing faster," says strong safety Donovin Darius.
"Last year we were passive. We played a lot of zone and
read-and-react schemes, and at times we weren't all on the same
page. I can already tell we'll be more in sync."

The 40-year-old Del Rio has injected energy into a franchise that
sorely needed it after eight seasons under the dictatorial
Coughlin. The new coach acknowledges he doesn't have a great feel
for his team yet. "I'm looking forward to seeing how they respond
when adversity hits," he says.

Douglas is ready. He's heard talk that the large signing bonus he
received will sap his motivation and that his knee might be worse
than he'll admit. He scoffs at both suggestions. "I don't know
when all these issues came up with me," he says. "Everything was
fine when I was helping Philadelphia make the playoffs. Now my
age is a factor and my knee is a question mark. But people can
say what they want. If I just play my game, I'll be fine." --J.C.

COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES EYED EAGLE The Jaguars showed they are serious about upgrading their defense by luring Douglas away from Philadelphia. COLOR PHOTO: NFL PHOTOS TAYLOR COLOR PHOTO

UNDER THE GUN

Cornerback FERNANDO BRYANT is a four-year starter, but at
5'10", 180 pounds, he may be too small for coach Jack Del Rio,
who loves big corners. That's why he tried trading Bryant this
spring. Bryant still has good instincts and terrific closing
speed, but he's in the final year of his contract. He'll spend
most of this season auditioning for other teams.

ENEMY LINES
An opposing scout's view

"Offensively, I think they're trying to get their line settled for
the next few years. They've got a lot of young guys up front, and
they signed a good player in Chris Naeole. He gives them a surly
attitude, and if he gets his hands on a guy, you can forget about
it. He's a mauler.... If they get that line set, they have to
feel good about their running game, because Fred Taylor is the
most underrated back in this league. He's injury-prone, but when
he's healthy, he's scary.... I don't know what their deal is with
Mark Brunell. We think he's a very good quarterback, but they
screw with him every year.... Obviously Hugh Douglas isn't a
long-term answer, but he should give them one or two good
years.... They need Tony Brackens to get healthy. He was on the
verge of being great, a guy who could get 15 sacks a year, but
he's never come back from the knee injury he had a few years
ago.... The addition of Mike Peterson was big. I liked him when
he was in Indianapolis because he gave [the Colts] some
personality.... They've really improved their personnel. The
question is, how well can Jack Del Rio and [club vice president]
James Harris work together?"

SCHEDULE

Sept. 7 at Carolina
14 BUFFALO
21 at Indianapolis
28 at Houston

Oct. 5 SAN DIEGO
12 MIAMI
19 Open Date
26 TENNESSEE

Nov. 2 at Baltimore
9 INDIANAPOLIS
16 at Tennessee
23 at N.Y. Jets
30 TAMPA BAY

Dec. 7 HOUSTON
14 at New England
21 NEW ORLEANS
28 at Atlanta

SCHEDULE STRENGTH

NFL rank: 5
Opponents' 2002 winning percentage: .537
Games against playoff teams: 6

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP with 2002 statistics

2002 RECORD: 6-10
NFL RANK (rush/pass/total):
OFFENSE 10/28/25
DEFENSE 25/14/20

COACH: Jack Del Rio; first season with Jacksonville (0-0 in NFL)

FRED TAYLOR

POS. PVR ATT. YARDS AVG.
RB 40 287 1,314 4.6

REC. YARDS AVG. TDs
49 408 8.3 8

MARK BRUNELL

POS. PVR ATT. COMP. %
QB 72 416 245 58.9

YARDS TDs INT. RATING
2,788 17 7 85.7

MARC EDWARDS [1]

POS. PVR ATT. YARDS AVG.
FB 272 31 96 3.1

REC. YARDS AVG. TDs
23 196 8.5 0

J.J. STOKES [1]

POS. PVR REC. YARDS TDs
WR 161 32 332 1

KYLE BRADY

POS. PVR REC. YARDS TDs
TE 219 43 461 4

MIKE PEARSON

POS. HEIGHT WEIGHT GMS. STARTS
LT 6'7" 303 lbs. 16 11

JAMAR NESBIT [1]

POS. HEIGHT WEIGHT GMS. STARTS
LG 6'4" 330 lbs. 14 13

BRAD MEESTER

POS. HEIGHT WEIGHT GMS. STARTS
C 6'3" 295 lbs. 16 16

CHRIS NAEOLE

POS. HEIGHT WEIGHT GMS. STARTS
RG 6'3" 314 lbs. 16 16

MAURICE WILLIAMS

POS. HEIGHT WEIGHT GMS. STARTS
RT 6'5" 310 lbs. 5 5

MATT HATCHETTE* [1]

POS. PVR REC. YARDS TDs
WR 225 2 44 0

DEFENSE

RE HUGH DOUGLAS [1] 53 tackles 12 1/2 sacks
RT JOHN HENDERSON 54 tackles 6 1/2 sacks
LT MARCUS STROUD 48 tackles 6 1/2 sacks
LE MARCO COLEMAN 36 tackles 5 sacks
OLB AKIN AYODELE 56 tackles 3 sacks
MLB MIKE PETERSON [1] 136 tackles 3 int.
OLB KEITH MITCHELL [1] 28 tackles 1 sack
CB JASON CRAFT 58 tackles 3 int.
SS DONOVIN DARIUS 78 tackles 1 int.
FS MARLON MCCREE 71 tackles 6 int.
CB FERNANDO BRYANT 59 tackles 1 int.

SPECIAL TEAMS PVR

K SETH MARLER (R)[1] 241 29/33 XPs 20/33 FGs 89 PTS.
PR JERMAINE LEWIS [1] 278 36 RET. 7.8 AVG. 0 TDS
KR JERMAINE LEWIS [1] 278 46 RET. 20.9 AVG. 0 TDS
P CHRIS HANSON 81 PUNTS 44.2 AVG.

[1] New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college year)
PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 89)
*2001 statistics

"Taylor is the most underrated back in the league. When he's
healthy, he's scary."

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)