Why Jones-Drew could have a down season

September, 2, 2012
9/02/12
9:28
PM ET
Kim Klement/US PresswireMaurice Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushes and rushing yards last season.
Maurice Jones-Drew might be as valuable to the Jacksonville Jaguars as any player in the NFL is to his team. But don’t expect Jones-Drew to have the same impact this season.

Jones-Drew accounted for 47.7 percent of the Jaguars' offense last season, easily the highest percentage in the league. Only Ray Rice (38.2 percent) was even within 15 percentage points of him.

MJD’s percentage is the highest since O.J. Simpson accounted for 50.7 percent of the Buffalo Bills' offense in 1973, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

When Jones-Drew was on the field last season, the Jaguars 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. With Jones-Drew on the field, the Jags scored a touchdown twice as often as they did when he was off the field.

Since becoming the Jaguars' full-time starter in 2009, MJD leads the NFL in rushes and rush yards per game.

Expect 27-year-old Jones-Drew to have a down year after carrying the ball an NFL-high 343 times in 2011.

Since 2006, all eight running backs age 26 or older with at least 340 carries in the previous season saw a significant drop-off in rushing yards and touchdowns. Five of the eight running backs had more than 800 fewer yards the next season and seven of the eight had a drop-off of at least seven rushing touchdowns.

Here are the eight running backs since 2006 age 26 or older with at least 340 carries in the previous season:

• In 2009, Clinton Portis had almost 1,000 fewer rushing yards and eight fewer rushing touchdowns than 2008. And Michael Turner had 828 fewer yards and seven fewer touchdowns.

• In 2007, Larry Johnson had 1,230 fewer yards and 14 fewer touchdowns. LaDainian Tomlinson dropped by 341 yards and had 13 fewer touchdowns. And Rudi Johnson had 812 fewer yards and nine fewer touchdowns.

• In 2006, Tiki Barber, Edgerrin James and Shaun Alexander saw a drop-off. Barber dropped by only 198 rushing yards and four touchdowns. James had 347 fewer yards and seven fewer touchdowns. But the big drop-off was by Alexander. Coming off his record-setting 2005 campaign, he totaled nearly 1,000 fewer rushing yards and 20 fewer touchdowns.

For the second time in three seasons, Jones-Drew led the NFL in rush attempts between the tackles last year. In all, 51.3 percent of his attempts went up the middle, well above the league average of 39.8 percent. Since 2009, he has 100 more carries between the tackles than any other player.

On top of being such a workhorse, there’s the holdout factor. If Chris Johnson last season is any indication, Jones-Drew could be affected by missing training camp for so long. Johnson averaged 20 fewer rushing yards per game last season than he did in 2010. And how about Larry Johnson in 2007? He held out during training camp and ended up with 42 fewer rushing yards per game than he had the previous year.

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