October 21, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) calls a play against the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

If Gabbert Excels in MJD Absence, Jags Should Trade MJD

Can Blaine Gabbert’s play make MJD expendable?  Source: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

It’s time the Jaguars took a serious look at where they are at.  They are a team that is muddling through a rebuilding project that began four years ago.  They haven’t been competitive in the 2011 or 2012 season.  A serious lack of talent is plaguing the roster.

In short, GM Gene Smith’s seat is awfully warm.

Whoever the Jaguars get to replace Smith in the offseason, as many of us anticipate him being let loose, that man will take a long hard look at the roster and one of the first pieces to go may be Maurice Jones-Drew.  These next couple weeks without the running back will prove whether he’s worth the fat of his contract or not.

During Jones-Drew’s holdout this offseason the team was ready to rely on QB Blaine Gabbert to lead the team.  The coaching change leads to a more balanced attack with a focus on the quarterback rather than the running back.  Yet since his return in week one thanks to an injury to Rashad Jennings the offense has once again hinged on his hard running.  The team that looked to have some firepower in the offseason was suddenly back to its 2011 decrepit ways.

Against the Raiders this past week Gabbert was on fire after Jones-Drew left with an injury two plays into the game.  His two carries for six yards were the first two play calls of the offense, then with him gone things started to open up.  Obviously it wasn’t an eight-man front that led to Gabbert going 8 of 12 for 110 yards and a touchdown.

It is time the team stopped relying on MJD as a safety net, nay a security blanket.  This team needs to graduate from childhood into at least adolescence before becoming mature.  Jones-Drew allows for excuses about how bad the passing offense is, how bad the offensive line is, and he takes the focus off of the overall terrible offensive play.  He detracts from the objective analysis of what is really causing the “everything problem” the Jags are currently facing.

With his injury history, desire for a new contract, and increasing age it may be difficult to find a market for Jones-Drew, but there is probably a team out there (the Jets perhaps?) that would be willing to deal for a Pro Bowl running back who could revitalize their offense.

If this team is revamped could MJD be a casualty?  Source: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

It’s obvious that the team needs a major overhaul.  Many players from the Gene Smith era have bulky contracts and are unproductive.  Players like wide receiver Mike Thomas need to be considered sunk costs and left behind.  While many people believe that Gabbert is the root of the problem, I think whomever replaces Smith will see the potential that Smith and Mike Mularkey both see and give him another shot before moving on.  Jones-Drew, with one year left on his contract, could then become a bargaining chip for the new GM.

Gabbert can guarantee another shot by performing well when the offense needs him most during MJD’s injury.  Without Jones-Drew Gabbert has a chance to shoulder responsibility and show why he was a top-10 pick.  There is more wrong with this team than inconsistent play from a young quarterback.  Jones-Drew’s presence is only enabling the Jaguars by allowing them to focus the offense on him rather than forcing the offense to grow.  His 414 yards through six games isn’t worth keeping and if his presence is truly a now-useless security blanket then it will be time to move on.

- Luke N. Sims

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Tags: Blaine Gabbert Jacksonville Jaguars Maurice Jones-drew Maurice Jones-Drew Injury

  • http://www.facebook.com/keenan.jones.1806 Keenan Jones

    I tend to agree with you most of the time, but I don’t agree with some of what was said here. Yeah, I fully understand that our record isn’t going to lend validation to much of what I have to say, but they are still my beliefs, all the same. I’ve readily listened to all those who want Gene Smith to be fired, but I’m still not to the point where I want to see that happen.
    I could go on into this huge spill as to why not, but I’ll keep it as simple as I possibly can and even use something you said in your article as a part of my argument. You said many players from the Gene Smith era have bulky contracts and are unproductive, but who are you referring to? Mike Thomas’ contract isn’t bulky, although I can agree that even with that being so, his production isn’t matching his pay. Although I believe that’s from a lack of opportunities than a lack of ability.
    My second point, that sums up my stance on Gene Smith is this and I’ve presented this question elsewhere, with no one being able to provide me a substantive answer. Let’s say a new GM is hired, who on the roster do you think he immediately comes in and cuts, with the thought of replacing them? The only player that sticks out in my mind is a player such as Kyle Bosworth, but he’s just a depth player anyways, so that isn’t saying very much. Even with a new GM at the helm, I find it hard to believe that a large share of the players Gene has brought in wouldn’t go on to still be the core makeup of talent of this team.
    I see it like this, until it’s a known fact that Gabbert and Mularkey aren’t the two cornerstone pieces this team needs to become perennial contenders, then I think Gene should get the chance to keep his job (unless of course, going into next season things unfold the way they have thus far this season). I see the Gene Smith story as one that has to yet to see it’s full potential realized, with the same being case for a lot the players on the team, as I don’t think this team is suffering from a lack of talent. I believe it’s suffering from a lack of experience (as it’s still the 3rd youngest team in the league, or so I think I heard that be said during one of the games, or something similar to it) and consistent execution. The experience will come, as will the execution with this solid coaching staff we have intact (something Gene deserves some credit for). I firmly believe that if every player on the team can get to the point where they all play at their highest level for a full 4 quarters, we can compete with even the best teams in the league.
    But hey, this all nothing but my opinion. One that I know very well is in the minority and with the results we’ve seen so far this season, that’s very understandable. As John Oesher has said many times over, I believe this team is a lot closer to being what we all want it to be than it seems.

    • http://www.facebook.com/keenan.jones.1806 Keenan Jones

      And one more thing, this in regards to Jones-Drew. The only reasons I would agree with him either being cut or traded is under two scenarios.
      1) He proves that he can no longer play at a high level.
      2) Some team offers some a trade that is just too good to pass up.
      Other than that, I think he should be a Jaguar. I don’t agree with notion of taking away from your talent base, unless you’re positioning yourself to add more to it than you’re losing. We’re a better team with him than not at this point, and whatever issues it is that might be presented on the field while he’s here can be resolved in some manner, where there’s a healthy balance that’s good for the offense. Or so I think so.

      • LukeNSims

        Very good point on my use of “bulky.” I should have said paid more than their production value. Currently I think Laurent Robinson, M80, Guy Whimper, Aaron Ross, Aaron Kampman (unfortunately), and Marcedes Lewis (also unfortunately), are all good examples. I think that Robinson could come back but is quickly becoming an injury liability.

        Beside the point, your use of pay to production is more appropriate than my use of the word bulky.

        Of people I think would be cut: Chris Prosinski, Kyle Bosworth, Taylor Price, Jason Spitz, Chad Henne, and (unfortunately) Rashean Mathis are all good candidates to be cut. I also don’t think that Eben Britton would be around for very long either, nor would Guy Whimper.

        On the whole I think that a lot of the guys would be kept and not cut, but most of the people who really want Smith fired are mad about missed opportunities. Axing him now is more about assuming Smith is a sunk cost.

        But hey, I don’t make the decisions. Glad to hear from you again!

        • ZsG

          I think I agree with your overall premise Luke, but I think the narrative of MJD as the focus of this offense and as a security blanket is really not as applicable thus far this season. If you take out the game against the Raiders and his two carries during it, MJD is averaging under 17 carries/game for just under 270 rush attempts on the year, which is significantly below any of the last three seasons (343, 342 – if he played 16 games, 312). Even if you add catches, his total touches are way down, coming out to 314 touches for the year (386, 379, 365). While the Jags have leaned on MJD in the past, this year they’re really not leaning on him as much, despite his yards per carry being the highest it’s been since 2006. While Blaine looked quite good against the Raiders, as a whole, the inconsistency and poor play of the offense has been on him, the receivers and the offensive line. Taking out the Raiders game in which he got hurt, he’s average 29 pass attempts/game – which isn’t league leading, by any means, but by numbers alone, it seems like he’s getting the opportunities to make plays. However, he also averaged 29 attempts/game last year, so perhaps its the quality of the attempts (first down pass plays vs third down pass plays, etc.) that should also be considered. Overall, I think Blaine has gotten the opportunity this year to be a real playmaker for the Jaguars, especially with defenses stacking against the run, but truly he, his receivers, and his offensive line truly haven’t played consistent enough to take advantage of the opportunities.

          • LukeNSims

            I think that MJD is more a security blanket in Gabbert’s mind than anything else. I think that when he is in the game Gabbert will often think of the checkdown as a better option because MJD is there. I think it’s more mental than anything. He wants to feed the leader of the team, even if he is getting opportunities to be the leader he may not actually feel like he is. He became captain while MJD was away and has only looked like one when Jones-Drew isn’t there.

            On attempts per game, I agree that Jones-Drew isn’t getting the same opportunities to dominate games. To which I think, why pay him like a feature back if he isn’t getting touches like a feature back. Jones-Drew has skills. Those skills are valuable to teams. The Jags appear happy to try their luck with Gabbert getting more attempts, why not give MJD to a team who will use him in favor of a pick or someone that Jags intend to use more than Jones-Drew?

          • LukeNSims

            Overall, good points as usual though!

        • http://www.facebook.com/keenan.jones.1806 Keenan Jones

          I’m willing to give Robinson, Ross and Lewis the benefit of the doubt at this point, in saying that it’s very possible they could all be worth the money they’re getting by the end of their respective contracts.
          I will agree that Price, Spitz and Bosworth would fit into that category, but I wouldn’t put Prosinski, Henne and Mathis there. Mainly because I believe they all stand to offer the team more than they would be taking away. Mainly Prosinski, as he has upside to offer and it’s apparent that the defensive coaching staff has faith in him with as much as he sees the field, even before the Lowery injury. I think Britton would be adequate depth, although I will be very happy the day that the Jags no longer has Whimper on the team.
          And I guess that’s where my biggest issue comes into place with the Gene doubters stems from. What are these missed opportunities? There hasn’t been too much he has done that didn’t make sense to me upon second thought. Am I saying he’s been mistake free? No, I am not. I am saying that, considering what he had to work with, he’s done a lot more to create a solid talent base for this team than not.
          Lastly, I appreciate the recognition of my comment. I’ll surely make more of a concerted effort to participate in the discussions more frequently.

  • ec

    I think the jaguars would have loved to trade mojo this offseason. Mojo’s agent all but said they ended the hold out when they were sure that no team would offer something the jaguars would take.I believe we maybe could get a 3rd pick at best for him. The main reason being because any team that trades for him will inherit an over used aged RB that is not going to be happy unless u pay him top 5 RB money. I am sorry mojo i love u, but u r just not worth it. Now more than ever coming off this injury. I think he worth much more to the jags as a player for one more year than maybe a 3rd pick..especially since gene smith will use a third round pick to draft a long snapper to solidify bryan anger