"NFL Total Access" kicked off its "32 teams in 32 days" series last week. We decided to score some brownie points by writing an accompanying post each night. We'll focus on one goal that each team needs to accomplish before Week 1.
When Maurice Jones-Drew signed a five-year, $31 million deal in 2009, it made him one of the top three highest-paid running backs in the NFL.
That was then.
The Jaguars want their (possibly only) star to fulfill the terms of his contract, but we don't expect this to go well. While Ray Rice and Matt Forte generate the headlines with their contract disputes, MJD skipping this week's mandatory minicamp is the type of trouble that could stretch into the season.
Here's a number for you: MJD accounted for 47.7 percent of Jacksonville's offense in 2011. His backup, Rashad Jennings, missed all of last year with a knee injury. There's not much else to speak of here, unless Montell Owens and Brock Bolen get your motor going. MJD's 343 attempts were 42 more than Michael Turner of the Atlanta Falcons and dwarfed team-leading outputs from around the NFL.
Whether or not MJD has a legitimate beef with the Jaguars organization is a different post, but we wouldn't be surprised if every member of Jacksonville's defense is praying for his return. The Jags ranked 19th in time of possession last season. Pull MJD out of the mix and that defense will never leave the field.
We went almost an entire Jaguars piece without a mention of Blaine Gabbert, but the quarterback might have the most to lose. Minus his bell cow, Gabbert's critical second season shapes up as a pending disaster. He was sacked 40 times as a rookie, third most in the NFL -- and that's withMJD on the field as a three-down weapon.
It's in vogue to predict doom for the Jags, but that's not our line here. There's hope in Jacksonville, at least some, but if MJD's absence goes into the season, where will this offense turn? Jacksonville must solve this issue before all others.