Will MJD mirror CJ after holdout?

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
4:43
PM ET
John Choi of ESPN Stats and Info has taken a deep look into holdout running backs to give us some context for Maurice Jones-Drew.

He’s the fourth back to end a holdout just prior to the start of the season.

Here’s what the other guys did:
  • Larry Johnson missed eight games and saw significant declines in his numbers back in 2007 when he reported 17 days before the Chiefs opener - Kansas City went 4-12.
  • In 2008, Steven Jackson reported to camp two weeks before the Rams first game. He ran for over 1,000 yards, but missed four games as St. Louis posted a 2-14 record.
  • Last season, Chris Johnson ended his holdout 10 days before the Titans opener. He posted a career-low 65.4 rush yards per game and found the end zone just four total times after scoring 12 touchdowns in 2010.

And all those guys were happy -- they got new contracts. Jones-Drew didn’t.

A more in-depth look at Johnson in 2011 showed he barely managed to get one carry per game in the red zone, after averaging more than three red-zone rushes per game in the previous season. On 49 red-zone carries in 2010, he gained 56 yards before contact. In 2011 on 18 such carries he gained 6 yards before contact.

Jones-Drew’s 2.4 yards per rush and 7 touchdowns in 40 rushes in the red zone last season were very similar to Chris Johnson’s 2010 numbers. Like CJ, he's now in a new system with new coaches. A drop-off on par with Johnson's in this area would hurt badly.

Jones-Drew accounted for 47.7 percent of the Jaguars' offnse last season. That's the highest number in the past 10 years, with Jamal Lewis of the 2003 Ravens second at 46.1. Jacksonville's offseason transformation should help get things into a better balance. Having him be super-productive is great. Relying on him too much is not.

They also need to be able to gain some yards when he's not on the field, something they struggled with with his backup Rashad Jennings out hurt last year.

With MJD on the field, the 2011 Jags averaged 4.4 yards per rush and had nine rushing touchdowns. When he was off the field, they averaged just 2.7 yards per rush and didn't score a single rushing touchdown in 250 plays.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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