TAMPA FL - AUGUST 28: Running back Rashad Jennings #23 of the Jacksonville Jaguars is tackled by cornerback Ronde Barber #20 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on August 28 2010 in Tampa Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Make no mistake, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew is still the workhorse and number one back not he Jaguars, but that doesn't mean he needs to carry the vast, vast majority of the load. As I mentioned in another article, Jones-Drew led the NFL in attempts per game and would have likely led the league in overall attempts had he played a full 16 games.
Leading the league in rushing attempts, generally isn't a great thing.
Of all positions in the NFL, I'd wager running back likely has the shortest life spand outside of kick returner. The pounding the player takes just won't hold up. While there was speculation Jones-Drew wouldn't hold up in the league when he was drafted because of his size, I don't think that's why he's been banged up most recently. Just the simple pounding he's taking and his style of play amplifies it.
When Jones-Drew entered the league in 2006, he was Fred Taylor's back-up and shared the load with him. It was noted this helped in extending Taylor's career. During that run with Taylor, Jones-Drew had roughly 43% of the total carriers. Since Fred Taylor has left the team however, Jones-Drew has taken nearly 83% of the total carriers and has since carried the ball more in the last two season than he did in the three with Fred Taylor.
With the stream of news and speculation about Jones-Drew's current health, it's about time that Rashad Jennings' role in the offense was increased. Last season, there was talk that he'd help take the load of Jones-Drew, as the team felt he carried the ball too much in 2009. Well, fast forward to 2010 and Jones-Drew was on pace to carry it significantly more than in 2009. Jennings averaged only 7 touches a game, inflated by his starts when Jones-Drew was out, so really just 4 carriers a game on average.
That's way, way too low. Jennings should average around the 8-10 mark. There's no reason in today's NFL that a running back should be carrying it over 300 times if you claim to have a "starting caliber" back behind him. While it shouldn't necessarily be the 60/40 split it was when Fred Taylor was the starter, it shouldn't be the current 85/15 split it is right now.
While it's true you want the ball in your best players hands, you also want your best player available to you at the end of the season, as healthy as possible.