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Maurice Jones-Drew Is Key to Jacksonville Jaguars Offense

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If the Jets are going to stop the Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday, they will need to focus on the run. The Jaguars have one of the most complete backs in the game. The Jets found this out the hard way when Jones-Drew was instrumental in a Jaguars win in the Meadowlands.

He ran inside. He broke tackles. He used his speed to get outside. He caught passes. He pass protected well. He even made one of the smartest and most selfless plays of the year, dropping at the 1 yard line late in the game instead of scoring a touchdown so the Jaguars could run out the clock and kick a field goal to win instead of leaving the Jets some time to do something. He is only 5'7" and 208 pounds, but he is compact, built thick, which makes him tough to take down. Being so small means there is less of him for a defender to bring down.

The Jaguars in Week 1 looked like a team that wanted to establish the run to an extreme. They had an unfathomable 47-24 run-pass ratio. This probably has something to do with the state of the passing game. There are not many big threats on the outside, and as the old saying goes, when your starting quarterback is Luke McCown...well your starting quarterback is Luke McCown.

The Jaguars in Week 1 understandably seemed to want to avoid asking too much of McCown, particularly with a talent like Jones-Drew back there. This meant a heavy dose of runs to keep the quarterback out of difficult passing downs. The Jaguars tried to establish the run against the Titans and were very successful. They held the ball for 39:38.

Most observers would agree the Jets have more talent than the Jaguars. Running heavily to control the clock is a strategy outmanned teams use. If Jacksonville used it against the Titans, they will likely look to run heavily against Gang Green rather than expose McCown to the exotic fronts the Jets will throw.

Asking the Jaguars to beat the Jets over 60:00 is tough. If they can control the ball, keep the game low scoring, and keep the clock running, they will lower the amount of time they will have to beat the Jets over. It can become 45:00 if the game is a low scoring tie. Then it can be 30:00. Then 10:00. Then 5:00. This strategy can come back to bite a team as it almost did the Jaguars in Week 1. The Titans had a chance to win it despite Jacksonville winning almost all conventional statistics handily. Shortening the game to keep it close could be the ticket to victory against the Jets.

The Jets are very strong up front with Sione Pouha and Mike Devito on the line and Bart Scott and David Harris at linebacker. In an ideal world, the will be able to take the run away themselves. This is entirely possible. If not, the Jets have other options. Considering the talent they have outside at cornerback combined with Jacksonville's receivers, Gang Green might be successfully able to give extra help up front and ask the corners to handle things on their own.

In another twist, the Jaguars might limit Jones-Drew if the Jets cannot. He was on a "pitch count" Sunday returning from offseason knee surgery so Deji Karim got the bulk of the fourth quarter carries. He is a definite dropoff.