Could this be the last time we see MJD in the same space as Arian Foster?
Photo Credit: Major Nelson
The Jaguars offensive line is tailored to the run and that’s exactly what the team does, and does well. Jacksonville was third in team rushing attempts last season (512 attempts), averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Only the Bears had fewer passing attempts and that’s because half the team’s passing plays resulted in sacks. Jacksonville played host to a snooze fest this offseason; they lost Mike Sims-Walker and brought in Matt Turk, a punter. In terms of fantasy football, the Jaguars draft was also boring. Blaine Gabbert will be useful only in leagues that use “holding a clipboard” as a stat and owning a receiver named Shorts is never an option. To get a better feel for the team and help us mine for hidden gems we contacted a fellow Bloguin site, The Jaggernaut, for some of that inside info people are always talking about. And go.
Normally we don’t concern ourselves with wins and losses, but should we worry about the Jaguars losing games and turning to Blaine Gabbert? He’s obviously the team’s QB of the future and David Garrard is no Marty McFly. Or does Jack Del Rio’s no hazing rule reveal his intentions of babying Gabbert to the fullest?
I'll field this question in reverse order. I think the no hazing rule is intended to get his team focused only on football. With such a short off-season, the Jaguars can use all the focus and time they can find. It's a little thing, but it should ease the rookies' minds. As far as wins and losses goes, there's a lot to consider. Should the Jaguars find themselves at something like 2-6 or 3-6, I wouldn't be surprised for Del Rio to be fired, and at that point, Gabbert would almost certainly be given the reigns. On the other hand, I would expect Garrard and Del Rio to remain in place providing that the Jaguars can stay at .500 or better. Finally, there's always a possibility that Garrard doesn't play well in the pre-season and Gabbert does. If that happens, It's not unreasonable to think that Gabbert could start week 1. There's a lot of moving parts in Jacksonville, and it'll certainly be interesting to see how it plays out.
The team lost a play-maker in Mike Sims-Walker, will anyone step up and fill his empty cleats? Mike Thomas is a little guy who should be useful in PPR leagues and Marcedes Lewis could be used more often, but I’m wondering if the team has any hidden talent among their WR corps. Jason Hill? The 6’5 (220 lb) Kassim Osgood? The team’s 4th Rd pick Cecil Shorts? Anybody?
You hit it on the head. Mike Thomas is their most proven receiver, and he makes a solid #2 guy, but the Jaguars need to find that true #1. Jason Hill was re-signed in the off-season with that intention, and he had a couple nice receptions against the Patriots. Cecil Shorts III is expected to fill the role of the slot receiver. Marcedes could be used more, but he's the only big-time receiver the Jaguars have. If the Jaguars want to be successful, they need two things. They need a quarterback that will consistently make all the throws, and they need some of their unproven guys to step up, and make big plays. We know the Jaguars have a solid running game, but their offensive success will likely be determined by the progression of their young receivers.
Speaking of Marcedes Lewis, the team recently gave him a long term extension. Was last season a “contract year” or should we expect continued improvement (in terms of receptions and yardage) as the team lacks a real go-to WR?
Marcedes Lewis had a big, breakout year last season, and it will be tough for him to improve upon those statistics, especially without other receivers to draw the defenses' attention away from him. That being said, he's a great tight end. He blocks well in the running game, he runs routes well, and he knows how to use his body size to his advantage. Last season had a big impact on the size of his paychecks, but I don't think we'll see a big drop-off as far as his production goes.
I think what most people want/need to know about is the status of Maurice Jones-Drew’s knee. He had offseason knee surgery to repair damage sustained last year. MJD says he’ll be ready for the start of the season, but he’s been seen on the sidelines resting a “balky” knee. It worries me when someone’s body part is compared to this guy. Our resident physical therapist advises managers to avoid MJD, can you reassure any of us out there who own a share of the little guy? What kind of workload split should we expect between MJD and Rashad Jennings?
There's no doubt that Rashad Jennings will get more carries this season than last season, and I don't think there's much of a chance that MJD's workload would increase. Knee injuries are always tricky, especially with running backs, but I really believe MJD will have another big year in 2011. There's a couple of things to consider here. These first couple of pre-season games are still being used primarily as evaluation games. The Jaguars have a very young team, and the coaches need to know what they have. The Jaguars already know what they have with Jones-Drew. Also, you don't want a guy to rush back from a knee injury. Those types of injuries are tricky enough as it is, and you don't want to add more risk with such a return. I expect we'll see a little bit of MJD in week 3 of the pre-season, and I think he'll be ready to go for the beginning of the season. Considering the Jaguars lack of proven receivers, he should have a lot of yards in 2011, and he should still be considered a top running back.
Am I buying the MJD love? Mmmmm, I'm on the fence. If I were forced to choose, I'd side with Shane. I do think MJD will have a solid season. He did well on the bum knee last season and hasn't worn out the tread as much as some would think (1,141 career carries). Personally I have him ranked 12th among RB, but I won't be surprised if he produces Top 7 numbers. Although we didn't unearth any hidden gems from the Jaguars stable of wide receivers, I did find an excuse to link to Balki. That makes me happy. A big thank you goes out to Shane Clemons from The Jaggernaut - A Jacksonville Jaguars Blog - for answering our questions.