“Welcome back Mr. Jones-Drew. Here, have a seat. The coach will be with you shortly.”
It may feel alien to MJD for the first couple days or weeks, but in the time that he’s been holding out there have been some changes around the Jaguars.
- There’s a new owner, Shahid Khan
- There’s a new head coach, Mike Mularkey
- There’s a new offensive coordinator, Bob Bratkowski
But besides the immediate changes, there is also an intangible that has changed: leadership.
When Jones-Drew left, he was the king of the Jaguars. He was the face of the franchise, the man everyone looked to. His name was practically synonymous with Jaguars football. In his absence, Blaine Gabbert stepped up.
It’s tough coming into a new organization. It’s even tougher to be called on to be a starting quarterback when you were third on the depth chart three weeks prior. It becomes even harder to lead an offense – as a rookie, as the initial third stringer – when someone like MJD is in the huddle.
Jones-Drew was the leader before he held out for the offseason. Now it’s Gabbert’s team.
ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky put it brilliantly when he said, “[MJD] needs to show he’s part of it and not thinking he’s some sort of savior walking through the door.” It isn’t that MJD isn’t going to be an important part of the offense (though Rashad Jennings will still get the week one start), it’s that he needs to realize he is no longer what he once was for the team.
Jones-Drew is still a top five back, he’s still a threat in the running and passing games, but he is no longer the leader of this team. It’s not MJD’s team anymore.
This team has left the station, and as important as Jones-Drew is, he’s no longer the engine.
- Luke N. Sims