The Denver Broncos have played against some very talented running backs this season so far whether it was Ray Rice, Darren McFadden, LeSean McCoy, or DeMarco Murray. It speaks volumes that they’re ranked 1st against the rush, giving up 69.6 yards per game.
This week, they’ll face another capable runner in Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew isn’t having his typical season, averaging just 2.8 yards per carry, but he also doesn’t have a stable team around him. Jones-Drew ran for at least 1,300 yard from 2009 to 2011, and he’s averaged nine touchdowns per season in his previous seven years, so regardless of who’s around him, he has to be taken seriously.
While some may perceive his size to be a disadvantage, others see it as an asset.
“When he gets the big runs, the explosive runs it’s when guys are peeking and looking for him instead of playing their fundamentals and trusting their technique,” defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said of the 5-7, 220-pound back out of UCLA.
“He’s a tough guy to tackle,” safety Rahim Moore added. “He’s stout. He’s strong. He’s a hard worker too. He hasn’t done what he’s done in the past—as far as early in the season—but if you give him any crease in any type of running game, he’s going to go for 100 yards.”
Jones-Drew might be more effective now that wide receiver Justin Blackmon is back from injury. During his first game back, Blackmon had five receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown in the team’s loss last week. Coincidentally, Jones-Drew had a season-high of 70 yards, and he gave the Jaguars their first 20-yard run of the season.
The Jaguars scored a season-high of 20 points last week against the Rams with Blackmon back and Jones-Drew having his best performance of the season. The lowest point total that the Broncos have allowed this season is 20 points to the Eagles. They also put up 52 that day.
While this isn’t expected to be much of a contest, the Broncos still have to do their part to stop Jones-Drew and Blackmon. They’re the Jaguars real scoring threats, and if both go off on Sunday, the Broncos will be seeing a much closer game.