PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 16: Blaine Gabbert #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars hands the ball off to teammate Maurice Jones-Drew #32 during the game on October 16, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
The apparent value of Maurice Jones-Drew has diminished significantly in just three weeks and the running back no longer has the leverage that many felt the Jaguars would be forced to concede to.
During the 2011 season, Maurice Jones-Drew accounted for 47.7 percent of the offense for the Jacksonville Jaguars, a total that led all players with their respective teams and set a franchise record. It made sense that the player that led the NFL in rushing and proved to be the only reliable playmaker in his team's offense would then take that success and try to turn it into leverage for a new contract.
After all, this is a career for these football players and a short one at that. Striking while the iron is hot is the name of the game and Jones-Drew's iron was about as hot as it was going to get. But even with all the leverage on his side, he was still saddled with the fact that the contract he signed in 2009 had two more years left and wasn't exactly going to leave him eating off food stamps. With over $9 million headed his way over the next two years, the urgency for the Jaguars to up that to a higher amount simply wasn't there.
And so there became a standoff. One that Jones-Drew held plenty of leverage in. Doug Farrar of Yahoo! Sports summed it up well at the beginning of camp with an article on July 26:
Maurice Jones-Drew clearly believes that he is what makes the Jaguars' offense go, such as it is. The numbers and game tape agree. The team may be forced to fall in line over time.
Flash forward to the present, over three weeks since camp started, and the situation doesn't quite seem the same between the two sides. The anemic offense that was entirely dependent on Jones-Drew looks far from a struggling group. In fact, it's an offense that has been humming on all cylinders through two preseason games.
At the forefront of the resurgent Jaguars has been Blaine Gabbert, the second-year quarterback who started 14 games during his rookie season and was not very good in any of them. In fact, his quarterback rating of 65.4 in 2011 ranked last among qualifying passers.
Now through two games in the preseason, Gabbert's rating is nearly double that at 126.1 and he has looked like an entirely different player. He's earned adjectives like poised, decisive and confident from the same analysts that called him scared, overwhelmed and even a mistake.
With a seemingly brand-new quarterback at the helm, the Jaguars have marched all the way down the field for passing touchdowns on the first drive of each of their first two games. Also, backup running back Rashad Jennings has had little trouble carving up defenses and racked up 118 yards rushing on just 23 carries.
So what does this all mean for the three-time All-Pro called Pocket Hercules? It means he has been proven to be an unnecessary cog in the brand new Jaguars offense.
That's not to say that he wouldn't be a dynamic weapon or that he wouldn't bolster the potency of the offense, but the player that personally accounted for nearly half of the yards earned by the Jaguars offense in 2011 isn't someone that the team will be unsuccessful without.
The apparent value of Jones-Drew has diminished significantly in just three weeks and the leverage that Farrar thought the Jaguars might be forced to succumb to is no longer in the running back's favor. The leverage is now entirely in the hands of the Jaguars and Jones-Drew's holdout seems to have lost any possibility of concluding in the Pro Bowler's favor.