Barring a crazy development, Maurice Jones-Drew is going to win the NFL rushing title.
It’s an incredibly impressive feat considering the 4-11 Jaguars have spent a lot of time playing from behind and have the league’s worst passing offense by a large margin. We covered some of that context a few weeks ago.
He talked on a conference call Tuesday night, after he learned he was a Pro Bowler for the third consecutive year. I liked that he said he wasn’t bothered by not being the starter. Ray Rice of the Ravens drew that assignment. He reminded us he started last year when Arian Foster was more deserving.
Heading into the final game, MJD has a 128-yard lead on Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy.
Jones-Drew is sure to get plenty of carries against the Colts Sunday, and he ran for 114 yards on 25 carries in the first meeting between the teams.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said of likely winning the title in such a bad year for the team. “It’s something obviously growing up that’s what every running back wants. I think what we’ve done, though, is shown that there is no quit in our team. We’re facing eight- and nine-man boxes every week, and so to get that and obviously be up in the top in the league rushing where there’s always two or three extra guys in the box, it definitely shows that our guys are doing a great job and they deserve to get the recognition of being one of the probably top offensive lines in the game.”
He rewarded the linemen, his fullback and his primary blocking tight end with Gucci watches. The seven primary guys involved in blocking for him have black diamonds in their watches.
Jones-Drew has accounted for 46.5 percent of the Jaguars offense through 15 games, the highest percentage in the NFL. In 11 of 15 games, he has accounted for at least 40 percent of the club’s offense and at least 50 percent in seven games.
Rice is in second place on that list, accounting for 36.8 percent of his team’s offense.
Jones-Drew’s percentage is impressive, but it also shows how overly reliant the Jaguars have been on him. They need to get that number down by adding significant offensive weaponry. Less can be more, and extend his career, going forward.
Some additional notes on Jones-Drew’s season:
In the previous 16 seasons, the Jaguars have never had a player finish in the top three in the NFL in rushing yards. Mark Brunell (4,367 passing yards, 1996) and Jimmy Smith (116 receptions, 1999) are the only two players in franchise history to lead the NFL in one of the main statistical categories.
Jones-Drew is 136 yards from surpassing Fred Taylor’s single-season franchise record of 1,572 rushing yards in 2003.
Jones-Drew is likely to wind up as the only current NFL player to have three straight seasons with at least 1,300 rushing yards.
In addition to leading the NFL in rushing yards, Jones-Drew also ranks among the NFL leaders in several statistical categories: rushes (1st, 318), rushing touchdowns (T-11th, 8), touchdowns (10th, 11), yards from scrimmage (3rd, 1,807), first downs (2nd, 86), rushes of 10-plus yards (2nd, 38), rushes of 20-plus yards (T-10th, 8) and offensive touches (1st, 360).
In the Jaguars’ past five games, Jones-Drew has averaged 145.4 yards from scrimmage. Three of his top 10 career games have come in 2011. He had a season-high 188 yards from scrimmage (97 rushing, 91 receiving) on Dec. 5 against San Diego, the third-most of his career.