Fred Taylor (Getty Images)
JagNation is going to look at the Jaguars, position by position, and give our final evaluation of what happened during the 2008 season. Now we’re going to touch on the running back position.
Maurice Jones-Drew - 197 attempts, 824 yards, 4.2 ypc., 12 rushing touchdowns; 62 receptions, 565 yards, 2 touchdowns.
Fred Taylor - 143 attempts, 556 yards, 3.9 ypc., one touchdown; 16 receptions, 98 yards.
Others: Greg Jones, Montell Owens, Chauncey Washington
Positives- Maurice Jones-Drew took over the role as the lead rusher for the Jaguars dispels the idea that Jones-Drew can’t handle the load by himself. With teams stacking the box to stop the Jaguars rushing attack, Jones-Drew was still effective, and there’s not many backs who are better in short yardage situations. Jones-Drew is equally as effective as a receiver, as he has reliable hands and explosive playmaking abilities. Fred Taylor still appears to have top physical ability, but his cut-back style was mostly ineffective against the defenses that the Jaguars faced. Greg Jones is a top blocker who can run the football effectively when given the opportunities. Jones is also a reliable receiver. Owens has some elusiveness and could earn some more opportunities in the future. Washington played fairly well in his limited time.
Negatives- Fred Taylor is much closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and his future with the team is very much in doubt considering the large salary number he has for 2008. Taylor’s hands are unreliable and he missed time again this season. Jones doesn’t have explosive speed just as most fullbacks. Owens and Washington are mostly unproven commodities.
Overall- The Jaguars running backs had a down year, but they still have as much talent in the backfield as any other NFL team. A better passing game would make the running game much more effective.
Solution- Jacksonville could draft a back to take Fred Taylor’s place as Taylor will likely decline and his salary number is pretty high. A two-back tandem is the current trend in the NFL and it’s unclear whether Jones, Owens, or Washington could team with Jones-Drew to be a legitimate tandem. It’s not set in stone that Fred Taylor won’t return, but he will likely have to agree to a pay cut.
Overall grade: B-