Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags Could Play Favorites with Right Signees

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags Could Play Favorites with Right Signees

Article excerpt

And to think, 40 months ago, Jacksonville had legitimate doubts

about whether it even would get an NFL team.

Now? Well, if there's any truth to reports that Green Bay

Packers defensive tackle Gilbert Brown is about to become a

Jaguar and that Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Rod Woodson is

ready to follow him, there's no getting around what looms for

Jacksonville next season.

If Brown and Woodson suit up in black and teal, the Jaguars can

forget about trying to minimize expectations for 1997. With

those two stud free agents in the house, Jacksonville ought to

be favored -- yes, the odds-on choice -- to win the AFC

Championship.

Think about it. Who in the AFC will be stronger than

Jacksonville if the Jaguars add the wide-bodied Brown and a

perennial Pro Bowl cornerback into their mix? Heck, just getting

one of those two might put them over the top.

Denver was supposedly the best AFC team last year based on the

regular season, but Jacksonville beat the Broncos in the

playoffs when it had only the NFL's 16th-ranked defense. You've

got to believe the Jaguars' defense will toughen up

significantly with Brown and Woodson in the lineup. Besides, who

knows how much fire John Elway and the Broncos still have in

them after that postseason letdown?

Look at the AFC's other first-place teams, the Pittsburgh

Steelers and New England Patriots. Both already have taken

significant off-season hits. The Steelers lost Pro Bowl

linebacker Chad Brown, who wasted no time in signing with

Seattle. It's just hard to imagine Pittsburgh winning the AFC

Central with Brown gone and Woodson lining up for the Jaguars.

The defending AFC champion Patriots won as much behind the

guile and motivation of head coach Bill Parcells as their own

talent. Now that the Pats have reluctantly traded Tuna Helper

for former New York Jets reject Pete Carroll, you have to wonder

what a change in coaches might do to that team's chemistry. …

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