When the Jaguars drafted Jones-Drew in the 2006 NFL draft, a lot of people assumed that he would simply be a return guy, and would make a great third down running back. Fred Taylor was still in his prime, but obviously was slowing down. No one considered that Jones-Drew could come in and dominate in this league the way he has been doing for the past few years. The reason why he was taken in the 2nd round, and not before Reggie Bush, Laurence Maroney, DeAngelo Williams, Joseph Addai, and even Lendale White, was because he was "too short", "too small" of a running back to do anything in this league. Even the Jacksonville Jaguars passed on Maurice Jones-Drew in order to take Marcedes Lewis in the first round. Anyway, enough about how he got here because everyone knows that, let's examine why the Jaguars need to start thinking about life after Maurice Jones-Drew.
This year Maurice accounted for 47.7% of the Jaguars offense. To have one player account for that much of any team's offensive production is unheard of. Without Jones-Drew, I am not sure how the Jaguars would have scored even once last year to be honest.It is time to start asking the question that nobody would want to ask: What if Jones-Drew was not here? Now the first response to the question would be "well, he is here, so it does not matter!" Well how long will he be able to be the entire offense? I will tell you this; he will not be able to do this for his entire career.
Running backs have the shortest "life span" so to speak in the entire NFL. The lucky number is usually 30, when the running back begins to feel the beating he has taken for 8-9 years in the league. We have seen what an over load of carries and touches can do to a guy in Larry Johnson. He had 400+ carries in 2006 and 1,789 yards, and after that accounted for 2,018 yards in the past six seasons. Jones-Drew had had two 300 carry seasons in his 3 years starting, and 299 carries before he ended the season with an injury in 2010.
The Jaguars need to start looking at him not as the offense but as a contributor to the offense. Not only will this help the development of Blaine Gabbert, but it will also accelerate the growth of the Jaguars offense as a whole. As long as the Jaguars can start to open their eyes regarding the offense then they should be fine. However, if they continue to wear down their star player then they will be in trouble. While having a reduced role will not be accepted with open arms by Jones-Drew, it is something that will have to happen if the Jaguars want to be a feared offense. With additions to the offense at the receiver position, and with running back Rashad Jennings having his support role back this coming season, the Jaguars can start seeing what an explosive offense really looks like.
If the Jaguars rely on Jones-Drew as much as they have already been relying on him then when he slows down, as will the offense. The best the Jaguars can do is to put pieces in into the offense, and allow it to continue to flow even if Jones-Drew is not there. Think of it like a store, if the manager is at the store non-stop, the employees will be alright, and the organization of the store will not be affected and neither will the sales. But if the same store does not have the manager there, and chaos begins, how good exactly are the employees really? The point is Jones-Drew cannot be there all the time, and having better players on offense needs to be a priority. If the Jaguars cannot function as a team without their star running back, then the Jaguars as a team just simply are not good enough to compete for a championship.