The Jags last season looked to one man when they needed to run the ball. A superstar in his own right, the big man in town, you all know who I'm talking about... Montel Owens.
This season is a little different. With MJD back in the building, and the addition of Forsett and Robinson, Our backfield looks to be a source of explosive plays for the Jacksonville offense. These three players have two things in common: a smaller build than the prototypical NFL RB, and fluidity.
They are all downhill runners, who take smart angles and use their small frames to hide behind O-linemen and slip past defenders. With the three of them having similar stature and running styles, this promises to be a group that can split carries a number of ways, and we may see a lot more two back sets if one of the new backups can catch fire early in the season, as Jedd Fisch has said he wants to find a way to get playmakers on the field.
With any luck, we will be able to get near the same level of production out of Forsett that the Seahawks did when he was on their roster a couple years ago.
In 2009, his first year for the 'Hawks, Forsett ran for 619 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry and putting 4 TD's on the board, his next year was similar, with about 100 less rushing yards and only 2 TD's, for an average of 4.4 yards per carry.
In 2011, his final season with the Seahawks, Forsett saw his role in the offense significantly reduced. He saw just 38 carries that season, as opposed to right around 120 in both of the previous seasons. Accordingly, his stats took a significant dip.
It may have looked to some like he was in decline, but he came back to form the next year carrying the rock for the Houston Texans, where he ran for almost 400 yards on just 63 carries, for an average of 5.9 ypc, with a season long 81 yard touchdown run.
And now he's in the mix for us. If he can match the productivity he's had for his last two ball clubs, his addition to the roster will prove to be a smart decision by rookie GM Dave Caldwell.
Everyone's favorite Offensive Weapon from Michigan is the youngest runner of the three mentioned. As a rookie coming in and switching positions from QB, there may be an adjustment period before he is able to take as many snaps as fans or coaches would like, and it may take time for him to be productive running the football at the NFL level. One thing we can count on though is his versatility. He can certainly run, he is an adequate passer, and has the short area burst and open space ability to be an excellent pair of hands out of the backfield. With all of these tools in his arsenal, the adjustment period should be a little easier since Fisch will be able to cater to many different strengths.
In the most optimistic scenario, Robinson will come in as a breath of fresh air for MJD, just as MJD was for Fred Taylor when he was first drafted. With any luck, Denard may be able to learn valuable lessons about how to run the ball in the NFL from the veteran Jones-Drew, and be ready to take on a larger role as an explosive RB when MJD moves on from the Jags.
The heartbeat of the Jags for the last few years. Although Maurice Jones-Drew is coming off of a major injury, and a shortened season last year, he has been a reliable threat every other year of his tenure. He claims all is well with the foot, and appears to be making strides with his conditioning, so it is very plausible that he could return to form this season, although now there is the concern that he may be injured again. If we get the 1,606 yard RB from 2011, we'll be in good shape; If we get the 6 game 414 yards back from 2012, we could be in trouble.
In any case, with the addition of Luke Joeckel to the line, and the switch to the Zone Blocking Scheme, it seems we have an ideal set up for our shifty, speedy, small backfield, which now has a lot of moving parts for opposing offenses to scheme around. It will be interesting to see if we can finally get production from a running back group beyond the starter on the depth chart. If so, it could take pressure off of a young, but rapidly improving WR group, opening up opportunities for our passing game to develop and taking pressure off the QB by quelling the blitz.
So, what do you think? Will the RB's have a big year in 2013? If so, which one do you think will have the biggest season?