Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew remains the key to Jacksonville’s offense. On "Monday Night Football," his encounters with Baltimore middle linebacker Ray Lewis will be spotlight moments.
“He’s a Hall of Famer,” Jones-Drew said in a talk with Jacksonville media this week. I would like to be that one day and a chance for me to come and prove myself to go against him, but more than that it’s our offensive line, our receivers, our tight ends, our backs, our quarterback against their team, their defense. And in order for us to be successful in the run, we have to be successful in the passing game, be a balanced offense. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
Jack Del Rio was Baltimore’s linebacker coach from 1999-2001, a stretch when the Ravens won a Super Bowl and Lewis won a defensive player of the year award.
JDR said Lewis and Jones-Drew have a key element in common.
“I would say the one similarity is they both have great passion for the game of football,” Del Rio said. “I think you can feel the passion for both of those guys. I think it comes right across the TV screen. I think if you spend a day on the practice field with them, you feel it. I mean you feel Ray Lewis and his passion. I think you feel that with MoJo.”
Jones-Drew is quietly the league’s third-leading rusher; the Ravens are the NFL’s No. 3 rush defense.
But Jones-Drew has not been featured in the passing game the way he typically is. In his five seasons, he’s averaged three catches a game and 47 a season. This season he’s averaging 1.5 catches a game and is on pace for 24.
It would be good for the Jaguars if MJD became more of a target for Blaine Gabbert. The more Jones-Drew has the ball in his hands the better, considering the team’s lack of threatening weapons.
“Coverage dictates everything,” Jones-Drew said. “We have routes for backs out of the backfield, but the coverage, if they’re double-covering the back or if they have a guy chipping the back or whatever it may be, it kind of switches Blaine’s view from that to the receivers. It’s a lot of different things that defenses can do that dictate how we throw the ball.”