Maurice Jones-Drew Goes For the NFL Rushing Title
Jacksonville Jaguars fans have only one thing to look forward to — running back Maurice Jones-Drew winning the NFL rushing title. The six-year pro currently leads all running backs with 1,437 yards, up 128 yards on the second leading rusher, LeSean McCoy.
Barring some unforeseen injury (knock on wood), Jones-Drew should easily win the title Sunday versus the Indianapolis Colts. MJD ran for 114 yards on 25 carries the first time the two teams played back on November 13th.
The achievement will prove to be quite impressive considering the teams passing offense ranks dead last in the league, and it’s not even close. The Jaguars have thrown for 2,418 yards this season, while the next closest team is the Denver Broncos who have thrown for 2,648 yards. In comparison, the Saints lead the league with 5,096 yards thrown.
Speaking on a conference call Tuesday night, Jones-Drew talked about the rushing title:
It’s bittersweet. It’s something obviously growing up that’s what every running back wants. I think what we’ve done, though, is shown that there is no quit in our team. We’re facing eight- and nine-man boxes every week, and so to get that and obviously be up in the top in the league rushing where there’s always two or three extra guys in the box, it definitely shows that our guys are doing a great job and they deserve to get the recognition of being one of the probably top offensive lines in the game.
He brings up a great point, teams know what the Jaguars are going to do and he still manages to average 95.8 yards/game. Out of 15 games, Jones-Drew has only gone over 100 yards five times, but he is consistently running the ball, and against good teams. Here’s what he’s done against teams ranked in the top 10 against the run:
- #2 Ranked Baltimore: 105 yards
- #4 Houston: Week 8: 68 yards, TD / Week 12: 99 yards
- #5 Cincinnati: 85 yards, TD
- #8 Atlanta: 112 yards
- #9 Pittsburgh: 96 yards
- #10 New Orleans: 84 yards
While the accomplishment is very impressive, it also comes with a huge drawback. Jones-Drew has the most rushing attempts in the NFL with 318, the next closest is Michael Turner at 284. That number figures to jump up near the 340-range with one more game to play. Through 15 games he has accounted for 46.5 percent of the Jaguars total offense, also tops in the league. He has accounted for over 50% of the offense in seven games. According to LiveStrong via the NFL Players Association, running backs have the shortest NFL career among all positions at an average of 2.57 years.
The Jaguars desperately need to upgrade the passing side of the offense, not only to become a more balanced offensive unit, but to keep Jones-Drew fresh and keep him playing for years to come. While he is in his sixth season with the Jaguars, he was back up to Fred Taylor for three seasons. While backing up Taylor, Jones-Drew averaged 176 attempts per season, while he has averaged 309 per season starting.
Jones-Drew was rewarded for his troubles with his third consecutive Pro Bowl trip on Tuesday. Ray Rice of the Ravens and Arian Foster of the Texans were also named to the AFC Pro Bowl team with
Jones-Drew Rice starting. Jones-Drew said in the conference call he wasn’t bothered with not being named the starter, he started last year’s Pro Bowl and felt Foster was more deserving.
Maurice Jones-Drew Imitating LeBron James’ Powder Toss in Cleveland
Here are a couple notes to keep in mind heading into the final week of the NFL season (for the Jaguars at least):
- The Jaguars have never had a player finish in the top three in rushing in a season.
- Jones-Drew is 136 yards away from setting the Jaguars single-season franchise rushing record set by Fred Taylor in 2003 with 1,572. Taylor texted Jones-Drew on Wednesday challenging him to break the record.
The Jaguars face the Colts on Sunday at 1pm. LeSean McCoy and the Eagles face Washington on Sunday.
Be sure to tune in to Thoughts of a Jeanius later this week as we unveil our Year-End Awards (Artist, Song, Album of the Year, etc.).
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