Maurice Jones-Drew retired from the game of football April 28th after having just signed a one day contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars the team with which he starred for eight of his nine seasons in the NFL. An unstoppable combination of speed and power, MJD was a force to be reckoned with from the time he first strapped a helmet and shoulder pads. He never lost a game in high school. He was a consensus four star recruit who chose UCLA in order to stay close to home. Where he led the team in rushing all three years he played there. He still owns the NCAA Season Record for Punt return average and even started four games at cornerback. He was voted a unanimous first-team All-American as an all-purpose back and kick returner following his junior year in 2005. That spring he was drafted by the Jaguars with their second round pick, and he took him less than a year to establish himself as a breakout star in the NFL. Joining established star Fred Taylor in the Jaguars running back rotation in 2006 began a period of rushing dominance as Taylor and Jones-Drew proved to be a very dangerous combination. Jones Drew was key in the Jags to their first playoff victory in 8 years beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-29 at Heinz field in the wild card game following the 2007. MJD totaled 198 all-purpose yards and 2 touchdowns co-MVP. He would be his lone playoff victory.
Following that big win in Pittsburgh the franchise began a slow decent into the cellar of the NFL but the one constant was the ever improving halfback and in 2009 MJD was poised to fully exploit his natural talents as he exploded for 1,391 yards rushing yards on just 312 attempts for a 4.5 per carry average and 15 TD’s, and 53 receptions for 374 yards and another TD. This breakout year was typified in a Week 8 loss to Tennessee in which Jones-Drew rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns on only 8 carries, one for 80 yards and another for 79 yards. This performance tied Hall of Famer Barry Sanders’ record of rushing for two touchdowns in a single game of 75 yards or more. At the end of the year MJD was named to the first of three consecutive Pro-Bowls, along with his selection as Second-team All-Pro.
2010 season was plagued by injury but still saw Jones-Drew named Running Back of the Year by the NFL Alumni Association. 2011 would prove to be his most dominant year in the NFL. Maurice Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing yards with 1,606 and also broke the Jaguars franchise records for both rushing yards in a season and also yards from scrimmage. With the rest of the offense mired in inefficiency MJD’s stellar performance accounted for 47.7% of the Jaguars yards. He finished the year in the Pro-Bowl and ranked 12th on the NFL Network’s top 100 players list in 2012.
A contract dispute between MJD and the Jaguars began after the 2011 season and he missed the entire preseason before reporting to the team. The team struggled to a record of 2-14 and MJD was never able to regain his dominant form and wound up injured reserve before the final game. A severe ankle injury hampered him In 2013, and he finished the season with just 5 touchdowns and 803 yards on 234 carries. After eight seasons with the Jags, he became a free agent on March 11th 2013, and two and half weeks later he was back in his native California, signing a three-year deal with Oakland Raiders. Maurice Jones-Drew‘s first season in Oakland was a major disappointment, as he rushed for only 96 yards rushing on 43 attempts and no touchdowns. He is now a former NFL player. A running back who played hard and played the right way and one that will always cast a giant shadow over this franchise despite his diminutive stature. EU.Jax caught up with RCRradio.com’s Patrick Wilkins and we asked just what Jones-Drew meant to this city and this franchise? “He was a force like no other…a player who gave this city national credibility and one of the greatest draft picks in the history of the franchise.”