With superior pass-catching skills, great burst through the hole and the ability to finish runs far more impressively than one would expect from a guy who is listed at 5’7 and 210 pounds, Maurice Jones-Drew has been one of top backs in the NFL over the last eight seasons — when healthy.
Jones-Drew broke into the league in 2006 and totaled 16 touchdowns during his rookie season through a combination of rushing, receiving and kick-return scores. The UCLA product remained a superior scoring threat over the course of the next five years and accounted for 74 touchdowns during his first six years in the NFL.
According to Pro Football Reference, the first six years of Jones-Drew’s career compare quite favorably with backs like Curtis Martin, Ottis Anderson, Franco Harris, Eddie George, Earl Campbell, Warrick Dunn, Tony Dorsett, Roger Craig and Herschel Walker. As is evident from that list, the first six years of Jones-Drew’s career put him in extremely elite company…but there’s a catch.
This is now his eighth season in the league.
A combination of injuries, bad luck and inept play by both himself and his now-awful team — the Jacksonville Jaguars — have limited Jones-Drew to score only three touchdowns during the 11 games he has played over the past two years.
It would be nice to think now that Blaine Gabbert is hurt and Chad Henne will be resuming quarterback duties for the Jags things will improve for Jones-Drew, but that is probably not the case.
Of the Jaguars remaining 11 games, five of them – Denver, Tennessee (twice), Arizona and Cleveland – are against teams that are in top of half of the league in rushing yards allowed-per-game and that doesn’t include three games against two of 2012’s top defenses, San Francisco and Houston (two games).
Jones-Drew hasn’t gone over 100 yards in a game for more than a year and the winless Jaguars have lost 10 in a row and 17 out of their last 18. Contract year or not, the clawless cats just don’t have enough talent on the roster to let the former 2nd round pick do his thing.
When they travel to Denver this week, the Jaguars will be 28-point underdogs, the largest point spread in NFL history. It might be going out on a limb, but this probably won’t be the week that MJD breaks out of his funk.
If he does manage to do something this week, or, even more likely, busts out against the San Diego Chargers’ porous defense in Week 8, it could the last chance to trade Jones-Drew before the tough schedule and the sucky Jaguars squeeze all the fantasy life out of him.
Evan Bleier is a freelance writer based out of wherever he can plug in his laptop. You can send him questions, comments and Buffalo wing suggestions @itishowitis or "like" CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.
Photo Credit: Getty