This is not how Jacksonville needed to start a two-week stretch on the left coast.
As the Jaguars prepared for the Raiders this week, injuries, doubt and quarterback changes plagued this team.
And with both guards nursing injuries, the ground game which was already suspect may become missing in action.
That is certainly how Maurice Jones-Drew wants things to be. Playing against Oakland will give the running back a shot at redemption - Oakland was the team that knocked the former NFL rushing leader out of action last season and forced him to have surgery and an offseason of rehab.
Because MJD’s game is suited for running through the middle of the line, guard play is essential in moving defensive tackles and opening small gaps for the bowling ball-type runner to make his move.
Luckily, Jones-Drew is healthy and wants a bigger role in the team’s offense this week. His performance last week was lackluster, but that had as much to do with the fact the line was bullied all day by the Chiefs' defensive front. Injuries, however, could mean he gets more of a chance to prove himself this week.
The west coast has not been the best of places for Jones-Drew and the Jaguars throughout both of their existences in the NFL. They’ve played once at Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle and lost all four. In those games, Jones-Drew has only 146 yards on 41 carries for a 3.6-yard average. His career average going into this season was 4.6.
He also knows this is a chance for him to shake off the rust and prove his foot is healed and he is ready to run wild in an offense that hasn’t had a chance to click yet.
“Obviously, we hope those things change, but it has been a rough West Coast for me so we’ll see how those things go,’’ he said. “I’m not real worried about that. I want to focus on correcting what I have to correct within myself and obviously helping our offense get better,” he said in a story on Jacksonville.com and written by Vito Stellino.
“I want to finish what I started here. That’s my mindset now,’’ he said in the story.
While he is a good running back and one who can turn the speed on like a light switch, his individual successes outweight the team success he has found in Florida. With only one playoff appearance and this being the final year of his contract in Jacksonville, now more than ever it is important that this team wins and keeps the main face of the franchise with them.