Maurice Jones-Drew: Why Jags Are Smart Not to Give RB Big Contract
Jacksonville Jaguars Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew is holding out for a new contract, but the Jags aren't giving it to him—and wisely so.
It's not an ideal set of circumstances when a new head coach and new ownership are distancing themselves from a franchise-caliber player, but that's what it's come to for the Jags and MJD.
Owner Shad Khan had this to say to Jones-Drew about the current contract dispute, as documented by Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union:
Jags owner Shad Khan on Jones-Drew still being absent: "Train is leaving the station. Run, get on it."
— Eugene Frenette (@GeneFrenette) August 21, 2012
As CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco reported back in July, head coach Mike Mularkey has stated that he doesn't know Jones-Drew at all, and that he doesn't waste time or energy caring about the superstar's holdout situation.
The argument on both sides is rather sensible.
Jones-Drew led the league in rushing in 2011, was second the previous year, and fifth in 2009. With a rookie under center in Blaine Gabbert, the Jags had an abysmal passing game, resulting in Jones-Drew logging a career-high 343 carries. Not to mention, he caught 43 passes out of the backfield.
Are the Jags taking the proper approach to the Maurice Jones-Drew holdout?
Jacksonville, of course, is hesitant to pay big money to a player at the game's most volatile position.
Even though Jones-Drew has been the league's most consistently productive back over the past three seasons,
Business is not always fair, or even just, but in this case, it's the right call for the Jags.
Additionally, the team boasts a top-10 defense from last season. Although Jack Del Rio was fired as head coach, the franchise held onto defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, and additionally gave him increased responsibility as the assistant head coach.
On offense, Mularkey's philosophy has seemed to work wonders for Gabbert, who has looked much better this preseason with a full offseason under his belt.
Longtime Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski aided the development of a highly coveted first-round quarterback in Carson Palmer, and is now calling the shots for Gabbert.
Also not hurting the cause have been the additions of free agent Laurent Robinson and first-round pick Justin Blackmon at receiver.
Robinson broke out last year with the Dallas Cowboys for 11 touchdowns, and although Blackmon has had some off-field issues, he has looked great in limited preseason action.
In a nutshell: the Jaguars look relatively fine on paper, assuming Gabbert and the passing game click when the truly meaningful games start.
Rashad Jennings would take over the running back position in Jones-Drew's absence.
The fourth-year back spent all of last year on injured reserve, but has proven to be a productive back in the opportunities he has had as a pro, averaging 5.4 yards per carry in his career. He is also an able receiver out of the backfield.
Although Jones-Drew is only 27 years old—the same as Jennings—MJD has taken far more punishment as he enters what would be his seventh NFL season.
Another heavy workload is on the horizon for Jones-Drew if and when he ends his holdout, and his barreling running style will be on full display again. Whether it results in another productive season is a huge question mark, especially without training camp preparation.
Jones-Drew's style and others like it has proven to be effective for some time in the NFL, but ultimately...
Not for long.
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