Ranking the Running Game, Pt. 26: Jacksonville Jaguars

Jeff LittleSenior Writer IApril 3, 2008

The 2007 Jacksonville Jaguars really took on the personality of head coach Jack Del Rio. He did more with this team than most believed he could.

The Jaguars played well last season, but they were still only second best in the division to the Indianapolis Colts. In the playoffs they were matched up against the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Wild Card Weekend.

In Week 15 the Jags beat the Steelers by running past them using the two-headed running tandem of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. Although the game plan was different in the playoffs, the outcome remained the same.

In terms of total yardage, Jacksonville was out-gained by Pittsburgh 340 yards to 239 yards. The Steelers also won the time of possession battle. The killer for the Steelers' was losing the  turnover battle to the Jaguars' 4-2 & the game 31-29.

The Jaguars advanced to meet the Patriots in New England in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The Jaguars put up a tremendous fight, but the game was literally over when WR Dennis Northcutt dropped a potential third-down TD pass in the third quarter, preventing the Jaguars from matching the Patriots point-for-point. They had to settle for the FG, making the score 21-17.

New England drove the length of the field and scored on a Ben Watson TD, his second TD reception of the day, giving the Patriots a two score lead. The Jaguars were done in by the Patriots running game (L. Marony—22 carries, 122 yards, 1 TD) and two costly turnovers. Jacksonville finished the season with an 11-5 record.

The Jaguars needs are WR, OT, DE, TE, and MLB. They signed WRs Jerry Porter, Troy Williamson, and D’Juan Woods, a rookie free agent from Oklahoma State, as well as DT Jimmy Kennedy to replace the departed Marcus Stroud.

The team also is rumored to be interested in trading for Dolphin DE Jason Taylor, who would be a solid addition but is on the other side of 30, the Jaguars would still have a need to draft a DE—the need wouldn't be as huge.

As a team, the Jaguars rushed for 149.4 yards per game.

  • Fred Taylor: 6-1, 226 lbs, 223 Att, 1,202 Yards, 5.4 YPC Avg, 5 TDs
  • Maurice Jones-Drew: 5-7, 212 lbs, 167 Att, 768 Yards, 4.6 YPC Avg, 9 TDs
  • Greg Jones: 6-1, 255 lbs, 42 Att, 119 Yards, 2.8 YPC Avg, 2 TDs
  • LaBrandon Toefield: 5-11, 232 lbs, 13 Att, 27 Yards, 2.1 YPC Avg, 1 TD
  • Montell Owens: 5-10, 225 lbs, third year player from Maine
  • D.D. Terry: 6-1, 190 lbs, rookie free agent from Sam Houston State

The Jaguars, under the guidance of first-year offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, finished the season second in the league rushing.

Fred Taylor had a terrific year and was finally voted to the Pro Bowl after his 10th season. Taylor’s first trip to the Pro Bowl was made after the Steelers’ Willie Parker withdrew due to injury.

Maurice Jones-Drew is a good change-of-pace back who complements Taylor. He was also the team's third leading receiver with 40 receptions for 407 yards and a robust 10 yard average per reception.

LaBrandon Toefield was used sparingly; Fred Jones is a solid fullback.

The Jaguars don’t have an immediate need to draft a running back. It would be wise to draft a runner since next season will be Fred Taylor’s 11th.

The Jaguars usually draft the best-player-available. With the 26th pick in the first round, a pass rushing DE like Clemson’s Phillip Merling or Auburn’s Quentin Groves would be a good fit.

The Jaguars are in need of a true No. 1 receiver, but the club probably won’t find that guy in this draft. They can target players to develop into that guy such as Florida’s Andre Caldwell, Vanderbilt’s Earl Bennett, or Coastal Carolina’s Jerome Simpson.

The question for the Jaguars: Using the best-player-available method to try and fill several needs, which direction will the Jaguars go in round one—DE, WR, or safety?