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Jones-Drew makes most of bad situation

1/4/2012

After finishing each of the previous two seasons as a top-five rusher in the NFL, Maurice Jones-Drew captured the 2011 NFL rushing title, finishing with 1,606 yards, 242 yards ahead of runner-up Ray Rice. It was the first NFL rushing title for Jones-Drew.

Maurice Jones-DrewJones-DrewWhat’s impressive about Jones-Drew’s production is that it came on a Jacksonville Jaguars team that was completely one dimensional.

Jacksonville finished the season last in the NFL in pass yards (2,510), yards per pass attempt (4.2) and passing first downs (122). Only the St. Louis Rams had fewer touchdowns through the air than the Jaguars' 12.

Blaine Gabbert, the Jaguars quarterback, also put up a Total QBR of 21.1, the worst among qualifiers this season.

Because the Jaguars didn't throw effectively, Jones-Drew faced a lot of defenses with eight or more men in the box. His 87 attempts versus eight or more in the box were second most in the NFL behind Frank Gore, and his 328 yards in those situations ranked third.

Led NFL in Rushing Yards
Playing for Losing Team Since 1990

Jones-Drew did a lot in a less than ideal running situation, but he did bring the 5-11 Jaguars their first rushing champion.

It was the second straight year the NFL’s leading rusher came from a losing team. This has happened 10 times since the merger, but not in consecutive seasons since Floyd Little and O.J. Simpson in 1971-72.

This season was already a career year for Jones-Drew, but with 169 rushing yards against the Indianapolis Colts, he added to it, passing Fred Taylor for the franchise single-season rushing mark of 1,572 set in 2003.

Jones-Drew also set the mark for the most rushing yards on a five-win team since 1978, besting Ottis Anderson's mark by a single yard. For clarification on the chart below, Steven Jackson has the most rushing yards in a single season among every team that finished 1-15 since 1978, when the NFL began 16-game seasons.

Like Jones-Drew, many of the players on this list had career years during some of their teams’ worst seasons. It was the most career rushing yards for Smith, Walker, Riggs, Foster and Gore.

Most Rush Yards On Losing Teams
Single Season Since 1978