The Jacksonville Jaguars had another dismal season in 2012, as they won just two games total and only one of their final 13 games. So it’s not surprising that a new coaching staff is in place, led by head coach Gus Bradley, but it’s at best unclear if any sort of dramatic turnaround will come in 2013.
When considering who is the most irreplaceable player for the Jaguars this season, the choice seems extremely clear. It’s not quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who is facing a turning point in his career as he enters his third NFL season. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon could fit the bill at some point down the road, assuming he can avoid off-field issues.
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew had a lost season of his own in 2012, as he missed 10 games with a foot injury and wound up setting career-lows across the board (86 carries for 414 yards and one touchdown; 14 receptions for 86 yards). It’s worth wondering if last season will serve as the start of a decline for Jones-Drew, as he now has close to 1,900 career touches (1,862) and is 28 years old.
The Jaguars replaced Jones-Drew’s primary backup over the last few seasons, Rashad Jennings, by signing Justin Forsett in free agency. They also used a fifth-round pick in April on Denard Robinson, who is attempting to make his way as a running back and multi-purpose weapon after playing quarterback in college.
Jones-Drew will surely be motivated to re-establish himself as one of the league’s best running backs this season, and his ability as a runner and receiver will be a driving force for anything Jacksonville is able to do offensively. If he is again hampered by injury this year, the downgrade in talent behind him on the depth chart looks steep and another season with a win total in the low single digits will be a virtual certainty for the Jaguars.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.