Go ahead. Read that title one more time to let it sink in. Now your job is to not judge this article or this opinion before you read the following. Let’s jump straight in.
ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky gave a spot on analysis of the courtesy, or lack thereof, from Maurice Jones-Drew towards Mike Mularkey in regards to Jones-Drew not giving Mularkey a heads up that he wouldn’t be at Mularkey’s first OTAs. That business is between Jones-Drew and Mularkey. There’s been some speculation that Jones-Drew isn’t happy with his contract, and that’s the reason that he’s not with the team. Again, there’s really no way to know that for sure.
My business with this piece is simple. I want to point out that Maurice Jones-Drew is a great player. He’s certainly the Jaguars’ best player, and he’s one of the best running backs in the NFL, but we have to keep this in perspective too. The running back position is not a premium position, and the team should treat this circumstance as such.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like Jones-Drew, and I hope he stays with the Jaguars until the day he retires, but Jacksonville can’t lose sight of the fact that Jones-Drew plays at a position that often sees rapid decline following a runner’s peak years. Yes, Jones-Drew probably deserves a new contract, but it’s the Jaguars’ job to make sure they don’t give up too much on a guy that is probably at or near the pinnacle of his pro career.
The future of the Jaguars, and the NFL as a whole, is not with running backs. They’re great peripheral players that supplement their teams’ offensive attack, but the NFL is a passing league, and that has to come first and foremost. You can still run the ball in the NFL, but you need help from the passing game to get wins. That’s where the Jaguars should be focusing their offseason efforts. There will come a time to negotiate a new contract for Jones-Drew, and I hope that process goes as smoothly as possible, but Jones-Drew needs to be a team player in the meantime. I don’t think this is a big deal in not giving Mularkey a heads-up that he wouldn’t be at this round of OTAs, but Jones-Drew does need to be mindful of such courtesies in the future.