Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Early Mission Accomplished

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Early Mission Accomplished

Article excerpt

You're probably thinking football perfection in August is as

meaningful as a preliminary diagnosis on Mark Brunell.

This is not to suggest that the Jaguars' 4-0 dress rehearsal is

the stuff of immortality, but it shouldn't be brushed aside like

lint off a lapel. Really, what more could any NFL franchise

expect to get out of the monotony of preseason than what the

Jaguars take away from this one?

Put aside the record for a moment, dismiss last night's sloppy

26-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons and focus completely on the

things Jacksonville hoped to accomplish in the dog days of

August.

Looking at the big picture, is there anything that even a

perfectionist like Tom Coughlin can really gripe about? I mean,

other than his jet-lagged defense -- operating on three days

rest -- forgetting that touching Atlanta Falcons' tailback Jamal

Anderson isn't the same thing as bringing him down.

Everything about this preseason, even the stress and upheaval

brought on by Brunell's knee injury, was about as close to

perfect as the Jaguars could expect. All of Coughlin's major

areas of concern, providing that kickoff coverage doesn't

qualify as a major , would have to be considered less worrisome

today if you base it simply on what transpired over this 19-day

test trial.

Let's start with the biggies -- establish a running game,

improve the defense, create more turnovers. You can't ask for a

whole lot more than what the Jaguars' first-team unit delivered

in each of these categories.

The per-carry preseason average (3.7 yards) may not reflect it,

but Jacksonville's offense has shown in at least three of the

four games that it can grind it out on the ground when

necessary.

Defensively, there has been so much all-around improvement that

you'd never know that the Jaguars have virtually the same

personnel on the field as they did a year ago. It's not like the

addition of free agent Deon Figures has been a difference-maker,

but almost everyone else has stepped up.

From Kevin Hardy to Aaron Beasley to Brant Boyer to Jeff

Lageman to Eddie Robinson, the first-team defense has performed

like its jobs were actually on the line. …

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