The Jaguars prepare to start the season with a whopping six players at the RB/FB positions. I love this move and couldn't be more excited. Brock Bolen showed too much to be cut, and the team is obviously sincere about sticking to their run-first mentality. The Jaguars are now loaded with weapons all over the field on offense. Gene Smith has loaded up the Jaguars backfield and MJD should have nowhere near the number of touches he saw last year (thankfully). The excess of backs will easily provide the respite MJD needs to stay healthy for 16 games.
Let's examine each player from the backfield and what they bring to the positions.
Maurice Jones-Drew - MJD is the focal point of the Jaguars' offense, he's our star; the face of the franchise, the go to guy. He will see the rock all season long, and the Jaguars will continue to operate out of the I-formation regularly. MJD is a threat in the passing game and has been put out as a WR before. Will we see MJD, Jennings (or Deji), and Jones all one the field at once? Maurice is a man teams game-plan for, and after touching the ball a whopping 365 times last year, the only real question is, how will his body respond?
Greg Jones - The best blocking fullback in the league. Period. A hard working student of the game who is well respected in the locker room. Greg rarely misses a block, and has perhaps one of the most intense jobs on the field. His position involves charging at a line of 300 lb men, oftentimes arriving the moment the hole opens. Then bursting through, locating the LB, SS, or whoever else is foolish enough to stumble across the train tracks, and railroad them. Literally and figuratively. Greg Jones and Marcedes Lewis are major reasons the Jaguars have such success running the ball, and that will continue again this season as long as Greg can remain healthy. He's a viable passing option out of the backfield, but he seems to lack explosive speed and isn't a real threat in the passing game by any means.
Deji Karim - Wow. What's can you say about this kid except wow. I know it's early, but I remember someone else who was 5'8" returning kicks like that his first year with the team... hmm.... Well, Deji had a slight injury to his hand reportedly, and that will set him back a number of weeks. His potential is clearly game-changing as a KR, hopefully he'll get a chance to showcase those same moves out of the backfield. Let's hope Kareem can get back to 100% quickly.
Montell Owens - Ah, good ole' Montell. The UDFA story we all love to reminisce about. Now entering his fifth season in the NFL, Owens is hihgly regarded for his spectacular special teams performances. Few fans have forgotten his fake punt run for a touchdown, and the fact he consistently leads the team in tackles on kick coverages speaks volumes about his ability. Production doesn't lie, and Montell consistently produces at a high level on special teams while remaining a competent back-up in the backfield.
Brock Bolen - Brock, welcome aboard. Now go hit someone. Mr. Bolen showcased far too much talent for the team to chance sending him through waivers, and as a result he's made the roster after joining the sqaud as a UDFA after last years draft. A blue-collar worker, Bolen does everything asked of him, and after making the most of every opportunity he had in the preseason, he'll be tasked with showcasing that same level of skill in the real game. This clearly is the beginning of the end of Greg Jones' time in Jacksonville barring a horrible injury to Bolen. Brock will have a year to work and learn under Greg, and hopefully his blocking will drastically improve. He is currently a marginal blocker on a team that needs a powerful blocker, however, blocking can be taught, and improvement should be expected.
Rashad Jennings - The second year pro out of Liberty has far exceeded the expectations one typically has for a seventh-round pick. He's reportedly got the best hands on the team, and has shown an ability to both pound the ball, and to make people miss. There is reason for excitement and greater expectations this season, as Rashad has been deemed a "complementary" back to MJD by both the front-office and the coaching staff. Drew can't take another 350+ touches this season, and Rashad will provide his primary spell.
Perhaps the Jaguars' could use Jennings and MJD in a split back formation with Marcedes, Sims-Walker, and Mike Thomas all in. That's five pass catching threats on the field with the threat of run or pass still available. How about lining up in short yardage with Greg Jones at FB, Brock Bolen at RB, and Marcedes Lewis and Jordan Black at TE. The coaching staff is going to have plenty of options to be creative and with Dirk Koetter now alone atop the offensive perch, we can expect to see his influence on the game-plan increase dramatically.
As you can clearly see, the Jaguars are literally stacked with talented runners, receivers, and blockers out of the backfield. Each player's versatility and dependability will allow the Jaguars the option to run or pass the ball without fearing silly dropped passes or costly fumbles.
The ball must be run, and the ball must be run hard... If Peyton and Schaub, (who represent 25% of our schedule) can't get on the field, they can't throw touchdowns, it really is that simple. The Jaguars will remain the antithesis of the Colts and Texans until we get a premier passer at QB ourselves. Gene is building an old-school monster right now. Strong on defense, and strong in the running game. Here's to pounding the Rock.