As most of you know, Maurice Jones-Drew played the 2010 season with a torn meniscus. He didn’t just play injured, he played well. In 14 games, Maurice Jones-Drew carried the ball 299 times, which came on the heels of a 312 carry season. For comparison’s sake, Fred Taylor had more than 299 carries just once in his career (345 in 2003). That was also his best year.
Whether Jones-Drew wants to admit it or not, I think it’s time for the workload to be shared. In 2006 and 2007, Fred Taylor carried the ball 231 and 223 times respectively. In those years, Jones-Drew had 166 and 167 carries. Last season, Rashad Jennings had just 84 carries which included a pair of late-season starts. I have to conclude from those stats that Jennings should be given more of the workload in 2011.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the top backs in the NFL. Truth be told, I would take him over every other back in the NFL, but I also want to see him have a very extended career. If Jones-Drew follows Fred Taylor’s mold, he has about 4 or 5 solid years left in him. Jones-Drew would likely strongly disagree, but I have the benefit of an objective perspective (most of the time anyway).
Rashad Jennings shouldn’t be given the same load that Jones-Drew. Let’s face it; he simply isn’t as talented and polished as Jones-Drew was coming into the league. That being the case, he is a very good, young runner. He has the potential to be one of the best 2nd backs in the NFL.
Here’s exactly what I’d like to see. I don’t like percentages, so; I’ll avoid them, and I’ll use last season’s numbers (Jones-Drew=299 carries; Jennings=84 carries), and redistribute them. I’d like to see Jennings get in the neighborhood of 125 carries in 2011, and that would leave 258 carries for Maurice Jones-Drew.
The simple fact of the matter is that Jones-Drew can only take so much abuse before he’ll break down. He’s in the prime years of his career, but the goal here should be to extend those years as long as possible, especially with an able back behind you on the depth-chart. Keeping fresh legs on the field should allow the Jaguars’ runners stay stronger and fresher for longer, and that will result in more yards per carry, and by extension, a more affective offense.
I like seeing number 32 in the backfield, and that’s why I’d like to see a little more of number 23.