Super Bowl LIII is just days away with the New England Patriots set to take on the Los Angeles Rams and plenty of former NFL players are talking about the matchup — Who has the advantage where? How will Aaron Donald disrupt Tom Brady’s timing?
But Maurice Jones-Drew wants to talk about the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In a wide-ranging interview with Phillip Heilman of the Florida Times-Union, Jones-Drew discusses the team’s need for leadership in the locker room, Leonard Fournette’s contract situation, Nick Foles, and more.
Locker room leadership
The majority of the interview was spent talking about the running back position and how that’s shown the need for better leadership amongst the players.
“I think as a whole, they need better leadership. They need more leaders in that locker room. You can have young leaders, but you need veteran guys that you can lean on, that he can lean on. When I was there, Fred Taylor was [established] and had been in the league a little bit. He had a guy. Normally when you have that veteran leadership, it helps steer those young guys in the way they need to go.
“How I see it is it’s hard to tell a young man who comes from where he came from, gets a bunch of money put in his lap and then you expect him to be a professional right away. That’s not going to happen, let’s be realistic. You need people in that locker room, people in that building that they can lean on to help guide them in the right direction. I really believe in veteran leadership, paying some guys that may not be the best players per se or at their prime, but guys that can come in and be a player-coach. You see that with a lot of these other teams around the league that have had success.”
Dante Fowler said something similar in an interview this past week — saying the Jaguars weren’t hungry or humble enough after reaching the 2017 AFC Championship and he (and Jones-Drew) are spot on. The Jaguars weren’t focused. Granted, they had one of the worst (if not worst) quarterback groups in the league and it didn’t do them any favors. But there is no real leadership in that locker room on the offensive side of the ball.
Nick Foles vs. Dwayne Haskins
I thought Jones-Drew would be a lot more “all in” when it came to the Jaguars finding their guy in the NFL Draft this year and it being Haskins. But he was surprisingly open about their options — both in the veteran market but also amongst first round talents at quarterback.
“With that whole dynamic going to get John [DeFilippo], you then go and try Nick Foles out. I still think you need to find someone. If it is Dwayne Haskins, you have to move up to go get him. I like Kyler Murray. I know a lot of people are saying he’s short, but he’s a dynamic player, a play-maker. If you get him, he’s just as athletic and dynamic as Lamar Jackson and he’s a better passer, which I think may bring people in the stands. You get him in the right system and John is from that [run-pass option] system, which he ran at Oklahoma. That may be a good fit as well.
“You know what, it’s crazy. Nick Foles is a guy that I can’t really tell you why he’s good or why he’s doing well right now, I just was scared to play the Eagles, right? I think his leadership is something huge. He’s able to embrace guys. He takes a back seat to Carson Wentz, which is awesome, and guys respect that about him. He understands the business.
“He can show a young guy how to play. If you’re willing to invest that type of money into that position, understand that you may sign Nick Foles to a two-year deal and let him be that bridge quarterback to your young guy and then let him move on. That may be best-case scenario.”
But Jones-Drew does show he clearly views Haskins and Murray as the guys in this NFL Draft. Those are your first round talents. It’s a two-quarterback draft.
Lastly, Jones-Drew talks about how he would have taken a different path than the Jaguars when it came to offensive coordinator.
“Me, personally, I would have went Gary Kubiak as the [offensive coordinator]. That’s where I would have went. I think you have a defense that is built and ready for success, you go get Gary Kubiak, get your run game going, you possibly go get Nick Foles or Joe Flacco. Joe Flacco’s had a lot of success with Gary Kubiak, which is nice. Or he’s worked with young quarterbacks as well. His system, he’s worked with Jay Cutler, some other guys. His system is nice. His system is what I would like to run if I was in that situation.”
Granted, we don’t know that the Jaguars didn’t have this same preference and just got beat out by the Minnesota Vikings who offered him an offensive advisory position-assistant head coach hybrid role.
You can read more from the Maurice Jones-Drew interview here!