MJD (David Zalubowski/AP)
Before any team starts a season, there are always a handful of questions to answer. How will the quarterback play be? Will your top players stay injury free? Does your team have enough depth to overcome injuries?
There is seemingly an endless list of questions that coaches, fans and journalists alike will have about every team before a season begins. Usually, the more times you say “yes” the better. What really instills confidence though is when there aren’t even questions to answer.
There’s an old saying I like to refer to this team a year; “The less questions you have about a team, the better they will probably be,” or something like that. Of course, there are always teams that answer those questions (a la the 2007 Giants, who went from a mediocre team to Super Bowl champs.)While there are teams that will rise from the ashes, it’s usually a safe bet to believe in a team that doesn’t have any huge questions regarding key personnel, injuries and experience.
With all that in mind, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a lot of questions and “ifs” that must be worked out. They absolutely should not be ruled of contention before the season even begins, but a position-by-position breakdown reveals that there’s an abundance of “ifs” an questions floating around out there. To further analyze how confidence fans should be of the team, we’ll take a look at each position’s positives, lingering questions and how the position should perform. We will follow this with an overall confidence level, running from 0-10, 10 being the highest.
Running Back/ Fullback
Pressing Question: Can Maurice Jones-Drew handle the load of being a primary back?
Breakdown: In his brief career, Maurice Jones-Drew has been nothing but dynamic, being a home-run threat every time he touches the ball while also earning a reputation for being one of the most physical backs in the league. If that wasn’t enough, Jones-Drew is also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield and he’s also made his mark as a return man. Greg Jones will be paving the way for him, as the versatile Jones has become an elite blocker and is also a tough runner. Alvin Pearman, Chauncey Washington and Rashad Jennings will be Jones-Drew's backups. This will be the first time in over a decade that the team has been without Fred Taylor, who made the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career two years ago.
The Big If: If a running back can emerge behind Jones-Drew, then the four-year veteran can avoid fatigue and make the best of his carries. Every year he’s been in the league, Jones-Drew has progressively gotten more carries but his average has dropped with that. A nice change-of-pace back might be needed to keep him fresh.
Our Call: This is Jones-Drew’s chance to go from just a fantasy football geek’s dream to a dominant back. Jennings has the potential to really compliment Jones-Drew. With a potentially beefed up offensive line and some tweaking of the offensive playbook, Jacksonville’s running game should improve its 110 yard per game average last year.
Confidence Level: 7