We’ve still got four games left in the season, but with the revolving door at running back, quarterback changes, offensive lines shifts, and secondary problems, it’s becoming pretty obvious who is setting themselves up for team MVP honors on the Jaguars.
To me there are really only a few candidates for MVP for the Jaguars:
- Maurice Jones-Drew, RB
- Paul Posluszny, MLB
- Cecil Shorts III, WR
- Russell Allen, OLB
As much as I respect MJD and the work that he does for the Jaguars, he hasn’t been on the field long enough to really deserve MVP. He has been in only six games this season, one of them was the win over Indianapolis in which he dominated, and was part of two overtime losses. While his influence cannot be doubted, his injury has kept him sidelined for too long for legitimate consideration, in my opinion. If Rashad Jennings had produced numbers anywhere near his 2010 numbers then he would have surpassed MJD in yards. Instead, despite appearing in four less games, Jones-Drew is still the leading rusher on the team with 414 yards. Value goes beyond game changing ability though.
Paul Posluszny, as evidenced by the title of this article, is my choice at this point for the Jaguars MVP. Posluszny replaced the injured Daryl Smith as the heart and soul of this defense for the 2012 season. Despite the pieces around him falling to injury, Poz has been a rock in the center of the defense. He leads not just with heart though. He leads by example. Posluszny leads the team in tackles with 101 (tied with Russell Allen), has two fumbles forced, and three interceptions. For a guy who is not the most mobile and plays like a linebacker from the ’80s, Posluszny has really stepped up and shown that guys like him and Brian Urlacher are still important part of defenses. Without Poz, this defense would be worse than it currently is, and to be honest I think we’re already at the bottom of the barrel.
Cecil Shorts is having a heck of a season. Shorts is on pace to be the first Jaguar receiver with 1,000 yards since 2005, he has the most touchdowns on the team (7), the most receiving yards (824), and the most yards per reception (19.2 – second highest in the NFL). Shorts has forced overtime with a ridiculous catch, won a game with a ridiculous catch and run, and has kept us in games with even more over the top play. He has become a player the Jaguars frequently dream about. As much as I like his play and the success he has seen, I just don’t see him as the most valuable to this team. Despite his strong play, he is really only the recipient of a small number of plays, thus making his relevance per snap considerably lower than it could be. He is becoming the go-to guy but hasn’t cemented the role yet. Not to mention that as a playmaker, Shorts is great, but he is not yet a game changer that forces better scheming. Shorts has managed to take advantage of openings in defenses, but if schemed against I don’t think he can overcome more diverse and complex coverages.
Russel Allen is the guy I see behind Posluszny as the most valuable player on the team. Allen has been the Jaguars’ do-it-all backup linebacker for years. When finally asked to replace Clint Session, Allen responded with vigor. His play is energetic, soulful, and he is always in and around the ball. His jump from backup to starter in such a critical role after the Jags lost two starting linebackers, has eased the pain that permeates the defense. Allen has 101 tackles (tied for first with Posluszny, but ahead with 80 solo tackles), and one fumble recovery. His speed, ability to close on the ball, and awareness is what a linebacker should be. Allen is a good player who was forced to learn quickly and responded well. While I give the nod to Poz, Allen has been just as crucial in trying to hold this flailing defense together.
While the offseason awards will wait for the offseason, I think it is difficult to argue against Posluszny for MVP right now. The guy has been dominant and shines on a dull defense. If Chad Henne comes alive then he deserves to be in the conversation, especially if some wins come, but he has been too hot and cold to deserve it yet.
We’ll see if these players rise or fall over the course of the season. Who else do you think should be in the conversation? Anybody I grossly overlooked?
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims