Jacksonville Jaguars Running Backs: Leonard Fournette or Maurice Jones-Drew?

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 10: Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars rushes the ball against Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on November 10, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 10: Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars rushes the ball against Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on November 10, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Is Leonard Fournette or Maurice Jones-Drew a better Jacksonville Jaguars running back?

The Jacksonville Jaguars have grown a penchant for having good running backs. They currently have Leonard Fournette as their primary running back but before he came into the fold, they had another good running back in the black and teal uniform in Maurice Jones-Drew.

Just thinking about them and without looking at their stats, they’re pretty similar players. Both are great running backs and are instrumental to their team. They have both been in similar situations too as they’ve both been surrounded with a lackluster offense in which they have carried a heavy load of the offensive output.

It could easily be said that without these guys, the Jacksonville Jaguars could have been an extremely bad team. As Jones-Drew was a member of the team when the Jaguars were going through a rough stretch, without him, the Jaguars would have won a lot fewer games than they did.

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While Fournette has been on better Jaguars teams than Jones-Drew has, without a doubt that if the Jaguars didn’t have Fournette, they wouldn’t have had the same success. Especially in their playoff run of 2017.

While both were crucial to the team during different time periods, who would be the organization’s franchise running back?

Jones-Drew played in the NFL for nine seasons where eight of them were spent with the Jaguars. In those eight seasons, he rushed for 8,071 yards on 1,804 attempts (4.5 yards per run), with 68 touchdowns. He ran for 428 first downs and averaged 64.8 rushing yards a game. In the passing game, he wasn’t too much of a threat as he caught 335 balls for 2,873 yards with 11 touchdowns.

Across eight seasons with the Jags, Jones-Drew made it to three Pro Bowl teams (2009-2011) along with a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2011. In the 2011 season, he was arguably the best running back in the league as he led the NFL in rush attempts (343), rushing yards (1,606) and averaged the most rushing yards per game of all running backs (100.4).

Fournette has been in the league for three seasons since being selected fourth overall in the 2017 draft. In those three seasons, he’s had 666 rushing attempts while gaining 2,631 rushing yards (average of four yards per run) with 17 touchdowns and 55 first downs along with averaging 73.1 rushing yards a game. In the air, he has 134 receptions for 1,609 yards with just two touchdowns. He has yet to be selected to a Pro Bowl game in his short career.

As Fournette has been in the league for a short amount of time, it’s hard to compare Jones-Drew’s eight-year career to Fournette’s three-year career. Here’s how Jones-Drew and Fournette compare after each playing three years in the NFL:

  • Games: Jones-Drew (47) | Fournette (36)
  • Rushing attempts: Jones-Drew (530) | Fournette (666)
  • Rushing yards: Jones-Drew (2,553) | Fournette (2,631)
  • Rushing touchdowns: Jones-Drew (34) | Fournette (17)
  • Average yards per run: Jones-Drew (4.8) | Fournette (4.0)
  • First Downs: Jones-Drew (142) | Fournette (55)
  • Average yards per game: Jones-Drew (53.9) | Fournette (73.1)
  • Receptions: Jones-Drew (148) | Fournette (134)
  • Reception yards: Jones-Drew (1,408) | Fournette (1,609)
  • Reception touchdowns: Jones-Drew (4) | Fournette (2)

Comparing their stats after three seasons, it’s still pretty close and quite difficult to determine who’s better. While Jones-Drew has appeared in 11 more games than Fournette over their first three years of their respective careers, Fournette has more rushing attempts which equate to more rushing yards although Jones-Drew averages more yards per run.

Jones-Drew has gotten the Jaguars more first downs although Fournette gets the team more yards on a per-game basis. Despite catching 12 fewer passes than Jones-Drew, Fournette has 201 more reception yards.

Comparing Jones-Drew and Fournette after they each played three seasons, it’s clear that Jones-Drew got better as he gained more experience which is evidenced as his Pro Bowl selections came from 2009-2011. Perhaps that will happen to Fournette as he gains more experience playing in the league. But, he is playing on the last year of his contract, and it remains to be seen whether he’ll be with the Jaguars past this season.

But comparing Jones-Drew and Fournette three years into their career, Fournette gets a slight edge. After reading the article, who do you think the franchise running back is?

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