Jan 31, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew watches the New Jersey Nets play the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated New Jersey 106-99. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
As we know, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has been training on his own and absent from the team's voluntary workouts. There have been reports of Jones-Drew looking for a new contract, in the wake of many other running backs signing new big deals pushing Jones-Drew's deal further down the rankings. Jones-Drew is coming off a season in which he led the NFL in rushing to follow up a season in 2010 where he near led the league in rushing playing with a torn meniscus the majority of the season.
One of the reason's the Jaguars might be leery of giving Jones-Drew a new deal, outside of the shelf life of running backs, is that some in the organization feel like he's lost a bit of his explosiveness according to a report by CBS Sports' Pete Prisco.
Jaguars sources say he isn't nearly as explosive as he used to be, and I would agree. Jones-Drew has always stayed away from OTA work since his rookie season, but this is a new staff for him, the first time for that in his career, and it's a new offense. That makes it different. Yet as FOTFP (face-of the-franchise player) he is seemingly getting a pass from the fans for not being around Jacksonville, even if the work isn't mandatory. The good thing is that with Jones-Drew gone, the team can start morphing from being so run-heavy to a team that is built around the passing game. Any team that is run-heavy is doing things the wrong way. Blaine Gabbert needs to become the Jaguars FOTFP.
This shouldn't be that big of a shocking reveal to anyone who's paid attention to Jones-Drew's career arc. As his role in the offense has increased, his explosive plays have decreased. This is rather normal as well, especially for someone who plays the game like Jones-Drew. From 2006 to 2007, Jones-Drew averaged a 20+ yard play every 17.5 touches. From 2008 on, that number has jumped to a 20+ yard play ever 35.5 touches.
Yes, a bit of it has to do with the lack of a passing attack, etc. but in the past three season's Jones-Drew has been more of a "grinder" than the explosive playmaker he was splitting time with Fred Taylor, but again that's only natural. He's still good for a big play here or there, but he's more in the realm of a guy who will pick up 5-10 yard chunks rather than the 10-20 yard chunks we saw in the past.
There's nothing wrong with being a grind it out running back, either.