Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Why should the Jaguars pay big money to a player that has seemingly been proven as an inessential piece to a team that has no negative impact with him out?
Maurice Jones-Drew is the best offensive player that the Jaguars have. He's a three-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler, and led the league in rushing in 2011, none of which were flukes. Presumably when a player of that level gets injured it is a crushing blow to a team, but in the case of Jones-Drew it has seemingly released the chains of the Jaguars offense and allowed them to have their best performances.
Think about the times at which Blaine Gabbert has been at his best this season. Against the Packers with Jones-Drew on the sideline, in the first half against the Raiders after Jones-Drew got injured early, in the first half of Week 1 against the Vikings when Rashad Jennings earned the starting spot and in preseason when Jones-Drew was holding out.
Of course, the possibility exists that it is a giant coincidence and that the offense suddenly found grooves at times when MJD was on the sideline, but the mounting evidence certainly creates an interesting juxtaposition. The Jaguars seemingly play their best offensive football when their best offensive player is out of the game.
This may not be Jones-Drew's fault, as he certainly provides a strong player for the Jaguars when he's in the game and he has never been one to give less than 100 percent effort. Eric Stoner hypothesized on Twitter that the problem may be that when he's in the game the Jaguars are seemingly less willing to throw on first down. In a way, Jones-Drew might be a handcuff for the Jaguars.
Regardless of the theory, though, one thing that has presumably been proven in the last two weeks is that Jones-Drew is not an absolutely essential piece that is needed for the Jaguars offense to work. Instead there has been no negative impact on the offense with Jennings running in his place.
With the Jaguars in a situation where they'll likely have to decide between signing Jennings or Jones-Drew to a long-term contract in the offseason, the recent success of the offense despite missing MJD would seem to indicate that the right choice may be the one that costs less. And that would undoubtedly be Jennings.