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.
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
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims