In 2010, the Jaguars fell one victory short of clinching the AFC South. Peyton Manning and his Colts jumped the Jags during week 15 on their way to a Wild Card birth.
The Jaguars went on to lose their last two games of the season, leaving an unpleasant taste in the mouth of the Jaguars’ front office. In the following months, the regime harvested arguably the worst draft class in team history, cut their starting quarterback, and placed Luke McCown at the head of their offense. When McCown didn't work out, the Jaguars doubled down and placed rookie Blaine Gabbert at the helm.
And we all know how that went.
2011 was a season of adjustment and despair, but the campaign did see Maurice Jones-Drew undertake the best season of his career.
Maurice Jones-Drew compiled 1606 yards on 343 attempts in 2011. This propelled Jones-Drew to the rushing title, a feat that had never been accomplished by a Jag. In fact, no Jaguar before MJD had ever finished in the top 3 in rushing yards.
MJD became the fourth Jaguars player to be voted to the Pro Bowl in 3 consecutive seasons.
There’s not much investigation to undertake when analyzing MJD’s record season. The team struggled to create with Blaine Gabbert’s arm, leaving the only reliable outlet of production their star running back’s legs. The Jaguars pounded the ball with Jones-Drew relentlessly, even when success on the ground was hard to come by. Teams stacked the box, but the Jaguars refused to modify their game plan. This led to Jones-Drew accounting for about 50% of the team offense in 2011.
A typical sequence of plays during the 2011 season unfolded in a fashion such as this:
It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't always effective, but the yardage totals added up quickly.
The biggest contributing factor to MJD’s 2011 success was probably health. Jones-Drew remained on his feet for an entire season, which is impressive considering how his later seasons unfolded. MJD was a durable bowling ball for 16 games, even posting his highest yardage total in the last week of the season.
During week 17, Jones-Drew dropped 169 yards on the Colts. MJD earned the Jaguars single season rushing title with this play.
.@Jones_Drew32 breaks the #Jaguars single season rushing record on this play https://t.co/xCU0nGPE3i— Cole Hartley (@ColeFartley) July 15, 2015
MJD would finish the day by setting the 2011 NFL rushing mark at 1606 yards. This placed Maurice Jones-Drew among the NFL elite while his team limped to the finish line.
Jones-Drew remains a fan favorite in Jacksonville, though his days of consistent contribution left the team before he ever did. Today's Jaguars continue to push in a direction opposite of the 2011 Jaguars. Somewhere on the way to establishing a more balanced offensive attack, the new regime hopes to uncover their own 3-down back.
Is there another 1600-yard rusher on the roster? Only time will tell. We can only hope that another Jaguar back can one day replicate MJD's success, but without the offensive struggles that come tied to a single player consuming 50% of team production.
In other words, MJD's 2011 season was both impressive and inspirational. But let's not duplicate 2011.