At least they had their Mo-Jo

January 2, 2012

Even though a game-day scratch of LaSean McCoy gave Maurice Jones-Drew a virtual lock on the NFL rushing title, Mo-Jo finished the season with a monster performance anyhow.  His 169 yards on the ground accounted for 65% of the yards gained by the Jaguars offense. As Gene Frenette records in his column, today, Drew’s single-handed carrying of the offense was the norm this season.

Starting the season with an unaccomplished group of wide receivers ** and making a panic switch to a rookie quarterback in week two put an enormous amount of pressure on Mo-Jo, but he answered the call.  His least productive week of the season was the eighth one, at Houston, where he gained a mere 63 yards and a touchdown.  As Chris Johnson would attest, that was pretty good for a bad day.   In weeks 12 and 13, Jones-Drew was also the team’s leading receiver; in the latter.  While he did not drop the ball figuratively, he only did so once literally; a model of reliability.

The 2006 draft was a rare good one for the Jags as it not only the one in which Mo-Jo, was drafted,  but it was also the one that brought Marcedes Lewis to the team. Incredibly, in retrospect, it was Jones-Drew who was the second-round pick.  Even though he was sharing running duties with Fred Taylor his first three seasons, he still managed to be 25th in rushing yardage his first three seasons ***.  Since becoming the primary back, he has been in the top five for rushing yardage each season. Not bad for someone who was said to lackideal size, which likely will prevent him from ever emerging as a load-carrier in the NFL“.

The little engine who could

That quote is a gem from the 2006 draft, a review of which shows Mo-Jo outperforming all running backs who were drafted ahead of him.  LenDale White and Laurence Maroney are out of the league. Joseph Addai and DeAngelo Williams remain with the teams who drafted them, but their output has dropped markedly from peak performance.  Reggie Bush,  like Jones-Drew, had a career season for yardage in 2011. Unlike Drew, it was his first notable season as a runner.

Let us take a moment, then, to appreciate the superior performance of Maurice Jones-Drew. And hope that help is on the way.  At risk of appearing as foolish as the anonymous draft commentator quoted above, I will hazard that Mo-Jo will not be able to carry he load for much longer.

** Realize that the Jaguars have not had a receiver finish in the top 30 in yardage since Jimmy Smith finished 18th in 2005.  Their top wide receiver going into this season, Mike Thomas, was 32nd in yardage in 2010 and there was no one to speak of behind him.  When injury kept him out of the week 15 game at Atlanta,  the Jaguars played Jarett Dillard, Chastin West, and Taylor Price. In week 1, West was on the Packers’ practice squad, while Dillard and Price were inactive for the Jaguars and Patriots, respectively. Mo-Jo’s 112 yards on the ground were not nearly enough to save the day. Maybe they should have thrown to him more (he was only targeted once in that game). Anyhow, the chicken-egg debate over whether Blaine Gabbert’s poor performance as quarterback was caused by the lack of quality wide receivers will be a key one in the off-season.

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