There’s no doubt that Fred Taylor, a potential Hall of Fame candidate, had come to the end of his usefulness in Jacksonville. The Gator great got hurt at the tail end of the 2008 season and it’s clear that the Jaguars brass were worried about the long-time viability of the 33-year-old back who now ranks 16th all time in rushing.
But the Jaguars are on the verge of making a monumental mistake as they begin the post Taylor era. Because as explosive as he seems at times, Maurice Jones-Drew is not the kind of back who the Jaguars should make their every down back, or on the very least, the kind of back you give in excess of $20 million for in a long-term deal.
It’s not that MoJo doesn’t have flashes of greatness – but his success may have been due to the fact that he was a chance of pace back from Taylor who could catch defenses off guard. His great per-yard average may have been due to the fact that wasn’t pounding the rock 20-25 times a game. For example, as his number of rushes went up this season, his rushing average fell.
His yard per carry average in 2008 was the lowest in his three years in the NFL. And even more telling MoJo averaged just 2 yards per carry this past season when he rushed more than 20 times a game. That’s not inspiring because you want a back who picks up momentum late in the game.
MoJo’s biggest asset has been his versatility and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. But once again he was able to put such great numbers because he came in on third down after Taylor had taken the shots and done the work on first and second down.
Ok, I’m sure some will say he’s a tremendous weapon and the Jaguars have to make sure they don’t overuse him. But if that’s the case then why pay him the same amount of money as Steven Jackson or other first-tier running backs.
MoJo is just 23 and will likely be a heck of player for years to come. But he’s not the kind of running back you build a franchise around. You would think that the NFL team that made costly mistakes on no-show wideouts such as Jerry Porter would think twice before making another expensive error.