Bernard Pierce was snatched up by the Jacksonville Jaguars on March 19th, shortly after he was released by the Baltimore Ravens for a DUI. Well that and general underperformance.
Pierce, drafted in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Ravens, has had mediocre season after mediocre season in Baltimore. After showing some potential his rookie season, he was given a larger amount of the carries in 2013 (almost 10 a game) but turned in just 2.9 yards per rushing attempt. That’s far from productive at the NFL level and Pierce rightly saw his rushing attempts dip to just seven per game in 2014. Instead, Justin Forsett rose to dominate the running game in Baltimore.
Right now it looks like Bernard Pierce is a good, young option in the backfield for the Jaguars. He will complement Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson and has upside.
So, why is it that just three seasons into his NFL career we’re already talking about a need to revitalize his career? Pierce has seen declining production each year in the NFL, with a career high of 532 yards in 2012. He also only has five touchdowns to his name. His aforementioned average per attempt (currently hovering at 3.8 for his career) is not impressive. At this point he looks more like a study in regression rather than a potential building block for a young team.
As I’ve mentioned before, if the Jags can kickstart his career and get him back to his rookie form then there could be something here. Then again, there’s no reason to think a guy who just got a DUI and was kicked off his team after just three seasons is about to kickstart his career. Is there something special in the water in Jacksonville that will screw his head on right?
Writer Robert Brewer at NFL Spin Zone argues that despite Pierce’s limited success in the NFL, he is still the most talented running back on the Jaguars’ roster. If that is true (which is questionable) then the Jaguars could scheme their rushing attack around his strengths and really give him an opportunity to shine.
At this point, however, I don’t think that a lack of opportunity is Pierce’s limiting factor. To me, he needs to get out of his own way before he can bring his career back to relevance and be a force for the Jaguars. Bernard Pierce has been given opportunities to succeed before and he has surrendered them to others. Going forward he remains more of a question mark than an x factor in the Jaguars’ backfield.
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