The decline of Maurice Jones-Drew

Has mighty mite Maurice Jones-Drew lost some of his mightiness? Getty Images

One of the most insightful articles in the Bill James Baseball Abstract book series was an essay he wrote about Butch Hobson in the 1982 version.

The central theme of that piece was that the difference in the number of games in a baseball and football season largely determined how much physical violence each sport developed over the years.

James noted that baseball was quite a rough sport in its early days (a batter was originally put out with a thrown ball, for example) and could very well have continued down that path except that baseball executives realized, as James put it, "the paramount importance of keeping people healthy."

Over the years, higher-ups in that sport came to the conclusion that if they adopted all-out, win-every-game-at-all-costs strategies, it might pay off in wins in the short term -- but over the long haul, a higher percentage mindset was more apt to be successful.

Football tends toward a much more physical and violent approach because every game is a must-win situation.

Quoting James:

    "In football, the scarcity of plays -- the few number of plays which go into making a successful season -- changes the relationship between the value of the player and the value of the play. In football, every game must be won at all costs. If you make the play and lose the player, well, that's the way it is; you still have to make the play."

That statement is very true as general description of the gridiron game, but many coaches realize there are limits as to how far they can ride this train of thought -- and that is a lesson for the Jacksonville Jaguars, coach Jack Del Rio and star running back Maurice Jones-Drew.