Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars Notebook

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars Notebook

Article excerpt

Byline: Bart Hubbuch, Times-Union sports writer

HOME NOT SO SWEET?

Considering the home team has a losing record in the NFL this season, the Jaguars don't know whether to be relieved or worried that their next two games are at Alltel Stadium.

The Jaguars play host to the New York Jets on Sept. 29 before Philadelphia visits in Oct. 6, and coach Tom Coughlin wonders if those visitors will be as intimidated as they would have been in the mid-1990s.

"It's not the way it used to be,'' said Coughlin, whose team lost its home opener this year to Indianapolis. "When we were sold out, and it was as loud as it was, it was definitely an advantage.''

Coughlin was referring to dominant stretch from 1996-1999, when the Jaguars were 28-4 at home while averaging better than 66,000 fans per game. Average attendance has dipped to less than 61,000 over the past two seasons.

Coughlin is concerned because the home team in the NFL is a combined 15-17 this year, including 5-11 last weekend. The Jaguars, in fact, have a better road record since the start of last season (4-5) than home record (3-6).

"I will say this: The fans that were here at our opener were great fans,'' Coughlin said. "They were very loud.''

HEALTHY BRYANT PLAYING SMARTER

Cornerback Fernando Bryant is showing the effects of good health this season.

After fighting chronic foot injuries the past two years, Bryant is at full strength and thriving in the more aggressive coverage schemes favored by new defensive coordinator John Pease.

Through two games, Bryant is second on the team with two passes knocked down and has shown his mettle against the run with six tackles. The team's first-round pick in 1999 also has a fumble recovery.

"I think he's a wiser player,'' Coughlin said. "He's smarter. He takes a lot of things and studies them, and he's been in pretty good position. …

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