When Maurice Jones-Drew Wins, the Jags Lose
By Luke Sims
Big Cat Country did a pretty good job with an article on Saturday about who wins in the fight between Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars. The writer, T.Holmes, based the article on an article by NFL.com that went through its panel of experts weighing in on the MJD holdout. I recommend you read the NFL article as the BCC article is essentially a recap of what was said.
But what was said? Both people lose because MJD will hold out and have a season that isn’t as good as the team needs and as good as he would like – thereby failing to increase his value. Is this true?
The Jaguars have signed a contract with MJD for five years and $31 million. That means that the Jaguars get his production for the $31 million – whatever that may be – for five years. Period. Thus far (Three years in) the Jaguars have paid $21.65 million for 4,321 yards and 28 touchdowns. Not bad over the first three years of a contract. That contract was not based on his past production, but on his future production. What the Jaguars said was that they will pay him $31 million for him to keep his skill in Jacksonville, whatever his skills translates to is of benefit to him as well as the team.
There is no argument that MJD has turned his skills into some pretty good numbers. However, the Jaguars no not win despite his skills. Jones-Drew simply does not carry the team the way the he wants to be paid. Since taking over primary starting duties (and only missing two games) in 2009, the Jaguars have gone a collective 20-28. With MJD carrying the load, the Jaguars only win 41.6% of games.
Let’s compare the amount of games won when MJD was the primary ball carrier to when Fred Taylor was the primary ball carrier. Taylor took over starting duties in 1998 (his rookie season). Removing the 2001 season, when he only appeared in two games, the Jaguars went 88-72. The Jaguars won 55% of the games that Taylor was the primary rusher for. Just to be fair, we’ll removed the “MJD Factor” from Taylor’s time as the primary carrier and eliminate the 2006, 2007, and 2008 seasons from his total in order to make sure that late career success was not due in-part because of Jones-Drew’s presence. This brings Taylor’s win-loss record as the primary ball carrier to an impressive 64-48, meaning he won 57% of the games he was the primary ball carrier in. In case you didn’t do the math, since MJD joined Taylor in the backfield from 2006-2008, the Jaguars went 24-24, winning only 50% of their contests.
This is important to look at because the Jaguars do not pay Maurice Jones-Drew, or any other player, for wins. MJD is paid for his talent. If his talent, and the collective talent of those on the team, do not translate into wins then the value of the talent the Jaguars are paying for decreases. This is an important aspect to understand, the Jaguars value MJD’s skill at $31 million dollars, but if his skill does not help the team win, then his value decreases. MJD has been a constant with David Garrard and Blaine Gabbert at the helm of the offense. Fred Taylor was a constant for Mark Brunell, Byron Leftwich, and David Garrard. Taylor’s longevity is a reflection of his skill value as a variable in the offense; MJD is also measured the same way. To date, the Jaguars have paid $21.65 million for 4,321 yards and 28 touchdowns – but based on only winning 41.6% of games is he worth the cost?
To relate to the article from NFL.com, it is not in the best interest for Jacksonville to extend Jones-Drew – if they are doing the math and notice that an offense that relies on MJD does not translate into wins. Gene Smith has noticed this, but still wants Maurice Jones-Drew. He does not want Maurice Jones-Drew because they have the running back signed through the next two seasons, he wants MJD because his skill as the primary back may translate to more wins when the offense does not flow through him. As the Mike Mularkey/Bob Bratkowski offense being installed this offseason promises to be more balanced, the skill the Jaguars will be paying $4.45 and $4.95 million for over the next two seasons may translate into more wins.
The offense will not run through MJD as much because the Jaguars want to install a more modern offense, it will not run through MJD because when Jones-Drew is the focus, the Jaguars lose. If MJD were carrying the team on his back (literally), then he would be worth an extension and worth paying. But, as shown during this analysis of whether the Jaguars win or lose, MJD is not carrying the team on his back (or at least not to a positive place).
I have been on the side of Gene Smith since Jones-Drew announced his intention of holding out for a new contract. This is because the Jaguars paid MJD on the value of his skill and Jones-Drew agreed to how much his skill was worth. It is apparent that the Jaguars lose when MJD makes money – not due to a shortage of skill, but due to an inability to put the team on his back and carry them. Jones-Drew wants to be paid like a running back that carries the team on his back, but he doesn’t. For the first time since the Jones-Drew holdout, I have realized that Maurice Jones-Drew is not worth paying. Unless the Jags start winning with him in a new role in a new offense, the primary running back may as well be Rashad Jennings.
If MJD doesn’t play for the first 9 games of this season, he still owes Jacksonville two years of play (in order to finish his contract). If the Jags don’t pay MJD, they may have more loses, but I bet the loses are within 5% of the 58.4% of games they lose with MJD right now anyway.
Jones-Drew is good. Jones-Drew is a top running back in the NFL. But the Jaguars don’t need him to be the focal point of their offense. The Jaguars don’t need him to be to carry the ball 343 times in a season. They don’t need him to do this because when he does, the Jaguars lose.
The Jaguars would get more value trading MJD than they would giving him an extension – unless his work helps the Jags win in a new offense, which the team won’t know until MJD participates in the new offense. MJD is not worth the money. When he gets paid, the Jaguars lose. The Jaguars do not need him – at last not as a premier back or a back that is paid like one.
– Luke N. Sims
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