Kind of amazing, isn’t it?
I mean, Maurice Jones-Drew was supposed to hit a wall this year — at least according to some would be experts — but instead he’s flourished and is well on his way to the best year of his career.
The little guy took the lead in the NFL’s rushing race this past week. Despite playing in the league’s 32nd-ranked offense and behind arguably the worst starting quarterback in football, he’s averaging 4.5 yards per carry and has had at least 84 yards in all but one game this season.
Jones-Drew is on pace to put up 1,912 yards from scrimmage, which would easily be the highest total of his career, surpassing the 1,765 yards he accumulated during a Pro Bowl 2009 campaign.
On the surface, his production shouldn’t be surprising. After all, Jones-Drew was also an All-Pro despite missing a pair of games and being hampered by injuries in 2010. He’s been an elite back for a long time.
But in the offseason, many wondered if he was entering the first stages of what Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson called “an inevitable demise.” He’s got a small frame, and he had exceeded expectations for so long. After dealing with torn meniscus in his right knee throughout 2010, there was a belief that Jacksonville would lighten his load this season.
Plus, the Jags figured to face a lot of loaded boxes with rookie Blaine Gabbert attempting to play quarterback and a group of no-name receivers providing very little support. Among quarterbacks who qualify, Gabbert has the worst passer rating in the NFL, and the Jags’ offense is ranked dead last in every major passing category, including yards per game, yards per attempt, completion percentage, touchdowns and passer rating.
What’s also amazing is that it’s all about MoJo, not the offensive line or anything else. Jones-Drew’s backup, Deji Karim, is averaging just 2.0 yards per attempt on 61 rushes this season.
Quite simply, the worst offense in football is led by the most productive running back in football.
It makes no sense. But this is a passing league, and having a super-duper back is no longer enough to save a team from sucking.