Jacksonville – Three Performances of Note
Despite a miserable offensive season happening around him, running back Maurice Jones-Drew (+15.2 rushing for the season) had the best year of his career. He topped it off on Sunday by cruising to the league’s rushing title, finishing with 1,606 yards. Perhaps most impressive was his being the focal point of defensive game plans while still producing at a high level. The Jacksonville passing game was non-existent for the majority of the season, but Jones-Drew was still able to carry the offense. He saved his best for last as he ran for 169 yards on 25 carries Sunday, including a season-long 56-yarder. It was a beautiful cutback that led to the big gain with 9:01 to go in the third quarter and the run also gave Jones-Drew the Jaguars single season rushing record. On the day, 92 of Jones-Drew’s 169 yards came after contact as he continued to run hard despite Jacksonville being eliminated from playoff contention for weeks.
One player who stands out during nearly every Jaguars game is DE Jeremy Mincey. I’ve discussed him a few times already this season and he capped-off a strong 2011 with a monster game Sunday. Playing all 65 snaps, Mincey picked up three sacks along with five pressures to grade out at +6.0 on the day. I already mentioned his domination of TE Brody Eldridge but he had his way with RT Jeff Linkenbach as well. With 3:36 to go in the third quarter, Mincey shoves Linkenbach into Dan Orlovsky’s lap before sliding past him for the strip-sack. Mincey’s sack at the 10:44 mark in the fourth quarter was even more impressive as he exploded past Linkenbach to force another Orlovsky fumble, this time recovered by the Jaguars. 2011 proved to be a breakout season for Mincey who became one of the most dependable three-down defensive linemen in the league. His 973 snaps played were second among 4-3 defensive ends and he was on the field for 93.5% of the Jaguars’ defensive snaps. Mincey was a key cog in one of the most improved defenses in the league.
Something to Build Upon
Normally it’d be time for the one negative for the Jaguars, but I already mentioned CB Kevin Rutland’s struggles in allowing 10-of-13 passes to be completed his way. Instead, I’d like to focus on DT Tyson Alualu playing his best game of the season (+3.7). 2011 has been difficult as he’s battled injuries and his play has suffered. Even with so many other defensive linemen playing well around him, Alualu has been handled fairly easily all year. Like Mincey, Alualu picked up pressures on both Eldridge and Linkenbach, but it was Alualu’s explosion off the ball with 8:50 to go in the second quarter that showed his potential. He knocked Linkenbach into RB Delone Carter to blow up the running play and make the tackle for loss. It was a good finish to a disappointing season.