T.J. Yeldon is just a few workouts into his NFL career, but we can already see how impactful he will be for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The second-round running back is going to make something special of his rookie season, combining his skills with commitment by the Jaguars to run the ball more. Last season the Jags attempted almost exactly 200 more passes than rushing attempts, racking up about 1400 more yards through the air. This also saw Blake Bortles sacked into irrelevance, his arm deteriorate, and general offensive confusion.
Bringing in T.J. Yeldon after addressing the offensive line’s biggest problems in free agency was the next logical step.
T.J. Yeldon represents balance.
T.J. Yeldon represents a legitimate offensive attack on the ground.
T.J. Yeldon represents the final solution for the Jaguars at the running game.
Of course calling Yeldon the final solution doesn’t mean he’ll run forever. The odds of another Emmitt Smith hitting the ground running aren’t very high. It also doesn’t mean that other Jaguars running backs won’t get looks or fill in on occasion. Expected backup Denard Robinson has some flashy highlights to his name and deserves some touches to show them off.
Yeldon provides some stability at the position, however. He’s considered the top dog by many of us and can man down that workhorse role. Maurice Jones-Drew as a shell of his former self after winning the rushing title in 2011, struggling with injury and never getting more than 804 yards in the three seasons that followed.
Yeldon can pick up those pieces and be the next great Jaguars running back.
Is it too much pressure? Probably. Will he live up to it, as is expected of him? Probably.
This team is going to run the ball in 2015 and Yeldon will be the instrument to do it. It isn’t just the flash and dazzle that he provides, but the consistency and smarts. He’s working to understand the offense like a quarterback, he’s working to make sure every time he touches the ball he’s moving the ball forward.
In an NFL that is seeing the passing game continue to rise in prominence, getting a guy like Yeldon to provide balance is often overlooked. The fast-paced offenses get all the attention, but it’s a guy like Yeldon that helps keep the balance and ensure that if the team needs it, they can rely on the running game.
The best offenses in the NFL have a solution at running back, even if he isn’t used regularly. The Jaguars may finally have theirs yet again.
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