This offseason was spent rather productively by the Jacksonville Jaguars as they quietly became a sleeper team to watch in 2014 after finishing with the third worst record in the NFL last year. They won their way out of the No. 1 pick in the draft but after taking Blake Bortles No. 3 overall and adding some big upgrades on defense, the Jaguars are looking much improved already.
One of their more interesting signings was when they grabbed Minnesota Vikings backup running back Toby Gerhart off the open market to presumably make him their feature back replacement for the departed Maurice Jones-Drew.
According to top Jaguars beat writer Ryan O’Halloran, Gerhart will no doubt be a part of the Jacksonville offense in 2014 but he doesn’t project to be a feature back as he will be looking as 12-15 carries per game.
In Jones-Drew’s place will be Toby Gerhart, followed by, among others, Denard Robinson. Gerhart projects as a guy who will get 12-15 carries a game and did great third-down work in Minnesota as Adrian Peterson’s backup. The Jaguars should run the football better this year … if they’re able to stay in games long enough to stay balanced.
This might just be an early projection for Gerhart as his number with Minnesota were great but came in small bursts of activity. It was Adrian Peterson’s offense and the Vikings didn’t use Gerhart at all as a featured back in their system, save for when Peterson got hurt.
Jacksonville will likely ease Gerhart into a more prominent role on the offense but they can’t be expecting him to carry the load from the get-go. That doesn’t mean he won’t get the chance to, but his early projections look moderate in comparison to feature backs around the league and it’s up to Gerhart to change that.