T.J. Yeldon, Offensive Rookie of the Year.
As a Jacksonville Jaguars fan who has seen the team crumble with a lack of star power that sounds awfully good. It’s a tempting prospect to begin thinking about and it’s a tempting thought full of optimism to get us all through the offseason.
But right now it’s wise to keep it in check.
Over at NFL Spin Zone, writer Daniel Zimmer contemplates T.J. Yeldon making a push for offensive rookie of the year with the Jags. While it’s a nice bit of daydreaming, I’m not certain that is something we should be holding out hope for as fans of a team with more holes than swiss cheese. Right now, I’m hoping for 800+ yards and a handful of touchdowns. It’s not that I doubt Yeldon’s ability or the improved capability of the Jaguars’ new offensive line, but the fact of the matter is that the Jaguars haven’t fielded a 1000 yard rusher since Maurice Jones-Drew’s 2011 season. MJD barely surpassed 800 yards (803) in 2013. That is the most successful mark by a Jags runner since his league leading 1600+ in 2011.
While I firmly believe T.J. Yeldon can be successful with the Jacksonville Jaguars and could even put forward the first 1000 yard season since 2011, he’d have to really blow everyone away with his running in 2015 to win offensive rookie of the year. That’s better running than first rounders Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley and it’s running so impressive that whatever wide receivers Amari Cooper and Kevin White and quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota do pales in comparison.
I’m opting for tempered enthusiasm at this point.
Sure, we can daydream about impressive seasons from Yeldon (which I fully expect) but starting to think about offensive rookie of the year when we’re only at OTAs is a bit premature.
The best argument put forward by Zimmer (and I believe it should be noted) is as follows:
"At Alabama, Yeldon racked up 3,322 rushing yards in three years despite never being the lone featured back. He also scored a whopping 39 touchdowns with the Crimson Tide. He’s a relatively big running back at 6’2″ and 221 pounds, but he possesses a good amount of shiftiness to compliment his frame."
If Yeldon can translate that well to the NFL, then he has a shot. We shouldn’t be holding him to that standard, though. He would be an instant superstar for the Jaguars. He would be the heir to Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor we’ve been waiting for.
The young runner doesn’t need that kind of pressure right now and it isn’t fair to immediately assume he’ll be able to put together that kind of rookie campaign given what he’s working with in Jacksonville. I opt for defining success in a different way, not by a standard that requires a vote to figure out. The only time I care about T.J. Yeldon winning an award is when he’s up for the Hall of Fame after years of productive running for the Jaguars. Awards are relatively arbitrary and while they look good on a shelf, what looks better is looking back over your career and seeing progress and a slew of seasons you can be proud of.
Whether Yeldon is even considered for rookie of the year or not, it’s best to focus on what matters: the Jacksonville Jaguars getting better. Yeldon is expected to help with that. Let’s focus on those wins.
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