Dec 5, 2011; Jacksonville FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew (32) gives a thumbs up after their game against the San Diego Chargers at EverBank Field. The Chargers won 38-14. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE

MJD and the Jaguar Receiving Corp

Maurice Jones-Drew knows it, Gene Smith and Shad Kahn know it, and the Jaguar coaches know it, the era of Maurice Jones-Drew is coming to an end.  This is not because of MJD’s contract demand; the contract demand is because of this reality and will be the reason MJD holds out as long as he possibly can.

There are two main drivers for this.  The major driver is the continued development of the receiving corps and Blaine Gabbart. Maurice Jones Drew was half of the offense and the league leading rusher because he was so good and the passing game was so bad.  Going forward, the major emphasis and the major improvement will be in the passing game. It has to be.  As the passing game gets better and more exciting, Maurice Jones-Drew gets less important. I am not saying he isn’t a great weapon to have, but a lot of good passing teams have decent but not great running games. You simply don’t need an elite back in today’s NFL. The Jaguars will grow away from MJD.


If Justin Blackmon and the rest of the receiving corp delivers, then MJD will see his value and responsibilities diminish. Source: US-Presswire

The second main driver to the end of the MJD era is his age and pounding he has taken.  Knee surgery hampered 2010. A great, unbelievably great dedicated effort on his part delivered a stellar 2011.  Running backs don’t do that for very long.  It is very possible MJD gave all he had and mortgaged some of the future last year.  He probably doesn’t have that effort in him and if he does, he doesn’t have it for three more years. Running backs have a very predictable life span. Gene Smith knows the actuarial tables on every position. He knows MJD is late in life. It is a fact of the position.

Maurice Jones-Drew knows his 2011 accomplishment and bargaining leverage will never be better than what it is right now.  He did all that was asked of him and more.  Unfortunately he and everyone in the Jaguar organization know that more money for MJD will not deliver more output. It isn’t possible.  The truth is the Jaguars are beginning to move beyond him and he knows it.  If Blaine and the receiving corps do what Gene Smith believes they can do, MJD won’t be called on for any more than 1,000 yards a season and a few game changing runs. This is still a valuable skill, but not one to pay more for.  It is also a skill Gene can get on the open market from other late-in-life running backs.

Football is a business and that means hardball must be played.   It also means saying goodbye to the heroes of the past. We are at the start of the closing of the MJD era and everyone knows it.

 - Terry O’Brien   

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Tags: Blaine Gabbert Gene Smith Jacksonville Jaguars Maurice Jones-drew Maurice Jones-Drew Contract Maurice Jones-Drew Holdout Shahid Khan

  • LukeNSims

    Too true.  So who do we get to replace him going forward?

  • tko121555

    Thanks for the comment.  I don’t know who replaces him.  Looking around the league, late in life running backs are very popular.  Ray Rice, Willis McGahee are two Baltimore has used.  Matt Forte might be available.  It is just too easy to find one that I don’t see where MJD has any bargaining leverage.

  • Davjay1983

    Great point, Terry. Maybe we don’t have to go out and sign anyone. I really don’t see Smith signing another running back. Maybe we could do a running back by committee with Jennings as the lead back and with Owens spelling him on 3rd downs. I wonder if Harris could be that change of pace back. Just some thoughts moving forward. What do you think?

  • tko121555

    To be honest DavJay, good running backs usually do not emerge from nowhere.  If you look at the top 25 all time leading yardage guys, I think maybe 5 are not from the first two rounds in the draft.  THis is just my opinion, but good running backs stand out early, they don’t emerge late. Give me examples if I am wrong.  If the Jaguars want a good running back, they will have to pay for one. The good news is they are more common than good recievers.  So my opinion on Harris is “don’t bet on it”.  Sorry.

  • Davjay1983

     You are not wrong. You are absolutely right, the truly great running backs do not come out of nowhere. No one can replace MJD’s production. I’m simply talking about getting something going where the running game doesn’t disappear completely. I believe Jennings can give respectable production, and I like Owens as well in small doses. I’m just hoping there’s another back on the roster that can produce too and don’t worry, I won’t bet on Harris :)

  • LukeNSims

     @Davjay1983  @tko121555 Greg Jones perhaps…I mean it kind of jokingly but what about Jones if there is a running back by committee approach.  There really isn’t a downside to it unless he gets injured and can’t block anymore.  

  • Davjay1983

    @LukeNSims @Davjay1983
    Maybe he could be our short yardage guy. I could see that if he’s healthy.