Why Maurice Jones-Drew Will Long Rue His Poorly-Planned 2012 Holdout
According to NFL Network's Michael Fabiano:
Report: Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey says Rashad Jennings will start in Week 1 regardless of MJD's status.— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) August 27, 2012
Gene Frennette of Jacksonville.com confirms Fabiano's story, with a slight twist. He quotes Mike Mularkey as saying, "I expect Rashad [Jennings] will start, we'll just have to see."
According to Vito Stellino of Jacksonville.com, head coach Mike Mularkey was asked on August 25 how soon MJD could start if/when he shows up to camp:
Should MJD start right away if/when he shows up?
It depends on him. What kind of shape he’s in. How fast he picks up the system. I’m not going to put him in a position where he has any chance to fail because in the long run, we all fail. I’m not going to expose him to failure. It’s not going to happen. If he’s ready and all those conditioning wise [things], and he picks it up immediately, the faster he can progress, yes. I don’t know where we’re at right now. I have no idea.
That doesn't sound like an endorsement to me.
The Jaguars have brought in a new offensive coordinator in 2012. Bob Bratkowski is the same man who took over for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2001, turning one of the NFL's worst offenses into a well-oiled machine for a few years when Carson Palmer was at his best.
Things are going to look much different in 2012 for the Jaguars as a result. We've already seen Blaine Gabbert looking significantly better in the passing game, and as Justin Blackmon continues working his way into the playbook, the two will thrive.
Bratkowski has called a slightly unbalanced variety of plays thus far in the preseason. The Jaguars have run the ball 86 times for 431 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and passed the ball 102 times for 492 yards (4.82 yards per attempt).
While there is still much room for improvement in the passing game, it's clear that the running game isn't suffering without MJD.
Rashad Jennings looks like a starting running back to me, and his numbers back it up. He's ran the ball 36 times for 175 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and has looked really smooth reading his blocks and hitting the right holes.
Jones-Drew has only had one season where he averaged more than 4.7 yards per carry—his rookie year in 2006.
There's a good reason why Mike Shanahan has always gotten away with using late-round draft picks on running backs with great success throughout his career in the NFL.
Is MJD expendable?
Running backs are expendable. Period.
The NFL is a passing league now. Yes, MJD had a phenomenal year in 2011, but his team only won five games. His production isn't requisite for the team to win in 2012.
The sooner Jones-Drew realizes this simple truth, the better off he'll be.
The longer this drags out, the more I'm convinced Jones-Drew will regret making this ill-advised decision.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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