JACKSONVILLE – He loved what he saw, and he felt a connection.
This was Maurice Jones-Drew late in the 2022 NFL season as he watched the Jaguars push toward the AFC South title and into the postseason – and he said he felt the same feeling as most of the team's followers felt. And continue to feel.
"So excited for this team," Jones-Drew said.
Jones-Drew, a former Jaguars running back now an analyst for the NFL Network, joined senior writer John Oehser at last week's NFL Scouting Combine for this edition of the O-Zone Podcast. He discussed multiple topics, including his conversations last offseason with Jaguars Owner Shad Khan.
Jones-Drew said he and Khan spoke extensively during the latter's search for a head coach, which ended with the hiring of Doug Pederson.
"I wanted to give him my take on the situation," Jones-Drew said. "Being in the national media, people might tell me something that they don't tell him. We chopped it up for a couple of hours. I was really excited about what he was thinking about and who he was listening to and his decision process.
"When the Jags hired Doug Pederson, I thought it was one of the best hires you could have. There was a lot of rehabilitating of trust to do, and you had to have a coach who was willing to do that."
Jones-Drew, whose last season with the Jaguars was in 2013 and who retired following the 2014 season, said that was far from his only conversation with Khan in recent years.
"He wants to win and he'll do whatever it takes to win, and you've seen that," Jones-Drew said of Khan. "He'll do whatever he feels is necessary to win. The first time he came to Jacksonville he built the locker room. He said, 'My job is to make you as comfortable as possible to perform at your best. '
"He listens and that's the most important thing. He tries to understand and take the information he's getting to make a sound decision. That's tough to do. That's everything.
"He wants what's best for his guys."
Jones-Drew also discussed Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr., who rushed for 1,125 yards and five touchdowns on 220 carries in 2022 after missing his 2021 rookie season with a Lisfranc injury.
"I was a little concerned when he hurt his foot because that was the injury that kind of took me out," Jones-Drew said. "The difference is he was younger and doesn't have as many miles on his body. He had a whole off-season to train.
"He's explosive. He can take it the distance from anywhere, which threatens the defense. To me, you're just going to get a better player, a better product and a better pro as you continue to develop him."
Listen to the entire O-Zone Podcast with Jones-Drew below. Click HERE to view more episodes.