There wasn't much for the Jaguars offense to be proud of in 2011 as they finished dead last in yards per game and passing, and finished 28th in scoring offense. The one thing they can hang their hats on was the running of Maurice Jones-Drew, who not only became the team's first rushing champion but set a new franchise record with 1,606 yards on the ground.
"It's easy to take all of the credit, but those guys did a heck of a job blocking two or three guys, running down the field to get extra blocks and making it easier on me," Jones-Drew said.
Although Jones-Drew's season will be but a footnote in NFL history it may have been the best performance from a running back ever. Coming off knee surgery, Jones-Drew didn't participate in most of the Jaguars training camp for precautionary measures. Although questions about his health were abundant, the Jaguars' running back was the team's primary workhorse from the season opener on.
"I'm not worried about those people, they don't know what they're talking about half the time anyways," Jones-Drew said when asked about his doubters. "I'm more proud of the guys I battle with."
Although his 1,606 yard campaign ranks as the 48th most in a season in NFL history, no other rusher had to deal with a completely inept passing game. Not only did the Jaguars finish dead-last in passing, they were last by more than 250 yards. Opposing defenses routinely put eight or more men in the box when playing Jacksonville, and Jones-Drew still kept running.
"We've been saying this week after week, but no one has seen the things we've seen this year- 10 man boxes, eight or nine-man boxes," Jones-Drew said. "And for us to continue to run like that and when I say we, we won the rushing title with I think over 200 more yards than anyone else, and we've been healthy."
It's unrealistic to believe that anyone on a 5-11 team could be the league MVP, but nobody has played more significantly in 2011 than Jones-Drew. Once again, he has silenced his doubters and has re-written the Jaguars' history books with having seemingly every odd stacked against him.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie