T.J. Yeldon set for most productive RB season since 2011
T.J. Yeldon is set to be the most productive Jacksonville Jaguars running back since 2011.
For a franchise with plenty of storied running backs, it’s almost shocking to think that there hasn’t been a 1000 yard rusher since Maurice Jones-Drew led the league with 1606 yards in 2011.
The big shoes of James Stewart, Fred Taylor, and MJD have found a worthy successor in rookie running back T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon has just 585 yards through nine games, but if he can keep up that pace he’ll be coming in close to 1000 yards, making him the first 1000 yard rusher since MJD’s monster season.
Back in 2011, Mojo was the Jaguars offense. With no help from the abysmal Blaine Gabbert at quarterback and an offensive line that preferred to let their playmakers get hit than block for them, MJD’s performance en route to leading the league was truly special.
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2011 was the year the Jaguars fell apart, however. Head coach Jack Del Rio was fired, the forgettable Gabbert Era was just beginning, and Jones-Drew’s tread was getting a bit thin on his tires. The offense has never been as productive since.
From 2012 to 2015 the most rushing yards by a running back has been 803 in 2013. That was Jones-Drew’s last season with the team before a forgettable 2014 with the Oakland Raiders that saw him amass just 84 yards.
Denard Robinson, the converted quarterback from Michigan, looked to be a near-worthy successor as he worked to adapt his game as an NFL running back. He posted 582 yards to lead the Jags in 2014 after out-battling Toby Gerhart for the starting job.
Yet the position has never felt “settled” until T.J. Yeldon came to town.
The former Alabama stud has proven he can play at the NFL level. He has two 100 yard games, four games with over four yards per carry, and is averaging 65 yards per game. With six games left on the schedule, he could finish the year with 975 yards at this pace. That’s better than Jones-Drew’s 2013 and would be the best since 2011.
It’s not the blistering pace being set by rookie-leading Todd Gurley, but it’s more than enough for a storied running franchise that has been deprived a stellar runner in recent years. Yeldon is that stellar runner of the future and he’s going to help make this offense into a special product.
While he won’t be the entire offense like Jones-Drew was in 2011, Yeldon doesn’t have to be. Quarterback Blake Bortles looks good enough to compete with David Garrard and Mark Brunell as the best quarterback in franchise history and he has two wide receivers in Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson who are good enough to be the best in franchise history as well.
Next: Jags RBs have plenty of great moments from franchise history
T.J. Yeldon is joining one of the best offenses the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise has ever seen. 1000 yards is in reach and joining greats like Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor seems like a true possibility from this optimistic first campaign.
He’s on pace for the best season in a long time, it’s time for him to deliver.