Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has a new teammate, a quarterback. He arrived via the 10th overall pick in the draft. Given that the Jaguars packaged the 16th and 49th overall selections to get Blaine Gabbert, the Jaguars obviously plan to use him at some point.
Jones-Drew isn’t ready to assume that Gabbert eventually will be taking the snaps.
“David’s our guy and he’s always going to be our guy,” Jones-Drew recently told Adam Schein and Rich Gannon of Sirius NFL Radio, via Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union. “I mean, since I’ve been there that’s all I know and that’s who I played with from the beginning. When I was a backup and he was the backup we played together, we have a bond. So I know David will fight through it. It’s going to be tough at first. It’s always tough when they draft at your position but David’s a strong guy, strong minded. He’ll be able to go out there, fight through it and we’ll win games.”
Jones-Drew seems to think that the criticism of Garrard arises from the perceived failures of his weapons. “A quarterback is only as good as the players around him so when everyone says David’s struggling that’s like slapping me in the face because, I mean, Peyton Manning can throw the ball anywhere he wants to on the field but if that receiver’s not catching the ball, is Peyton Manning really Peyton Manning?” Jones-Drew said. “So I think with our situation we had a lot of young receivers, we had a bunch of injuries, and I mean it’s hard not to say — I don’t want to make excuses — but when you put the ball somewhere and the guy’s not there because your number one guy [Mike] Sims-Walker is hurt, or Marcedes [Lewis] is banged up, or I’m banged up, or the offensive line is a little banged up, a lot of those things go into play. And if you noticed towards the end of the year we had a lot of starters who were hurt. And so our timing was off a little bit.”
It’s a good point, but it means that Jones-Drew and other Jaguars players should be upset that the team devoted a first-round and a second-round pick to drafting Garrard’s replacement, instead of landing players who could help Garrard improve. (Indeed, Jones-Drew said that he initially thought the Jags would take a running back with the 10th overall pick.)
So while Jones-Drew still is positive and upbeat about the team’s outlook, there are enough hints in what he said to piece together the notion that, privately, he has to be more than a little dismayed that the Jaguars passed on a chance to make the team better now in order to get a guy who likely won’t be doing much to help the effort in 2011.