In a recent article, I argued that Maurice Jones-Drew is not worth giving an extension on his current contract because when Maurice Jones-Drew wins, the Jaguars lose. This is not because I do not like Jones-Drew. This is not because I do not find him to be a valuable member of the Jaguars. This is because his value has been inflated beyond his skill level.
The Jaguars, and myself and almost all other fans, made the mistake of putting too much emphasis on Maurice Jones-Drew in the offense. We all believe that the more he touches the ball the better the Jaguars will do. However, when looking at his numbers, the more he touches the ball the worse the Jaguars do. The best year the Jaguars have had since Jones-Drew started playing in 2006 was 2007. In 2007, MJD touched the ball 207 times on offense while the team went 11-5. He touched the ball 259 times in 2008, 365 times in 2009, 333 times in 2010, and 386 (including 343 rushes) times in 2011. The team has correspondingly gone 5-11, 7-9, 8-8, and 5-11.
There have been changes during this period: a new quarterback in 2011, an interim head coach in 2011, new receivers in 2008, the departure of Fred Taylor in 2009, etc. But how has the offense done? After all, the defense is half the game and MJD doesn’t play defense.
With an increase in MJD’s touches (surpassing Taylor’s in 2008), the offense has dropped from a +107 point differential in 2007 and the 6th ranked offense in points and 7th in yards, to a -65 point differential or worse since 2007 and an offense never rising above 18th in points (2010) and 15th in yards (2010) – including 32nd in yards in 2011.
During this time, Jones-Drew has become the focus of the offense. He runs the ball more than anybody else in the NFL (30 more times than the next person in 2011) and he catches the ball almost as much as any receiver on the Jaguars pay roll (MJD already has only eight less receptions in six seasons than Taylor had during his entire 11 year tenure with the Jaguars). MJD had 43 receptions in 2011 (one less than the team leader), 34 receptions in 2010 (sixth on the team), 53 receptions in 2009 (second on the team), 62 receptions in 2008 (second the team and only three behind the leader).
It is time for the Jaguars to stop asking Jones-Drew to do everything. MJD is one of the best fantasy players you can draft for your team, due in large part because the Jaguars have not yet realized that the more the offense runs through him the worse they do. Jones-Drew can’t carry the team on his back, but he can help the team surge forward. The team needs more support players for MJD. Blaine Gabbert needs to throw better, receivers need to catch better, and the team needs to stop bogging down Jones-Drew with too many touches.
Running backs aren’t the only things that expire from too many touches, offenses do too.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims