Is success on offense for the Jacksonville Jaguars squarely on the shoulders of their workhorse running back?
When you think about the Jacksonville Jaguars, the first thing most people think right off the bat is the defense. With a league’s best unit, including four All-Pros, it’s not an unfair initial impression. The group is the lifeblood of the team, and the driving force behind the rise to elite status.
But what about on the offensive side of the ball? Do the Jaguars have multiple weapons to rely on to move the ball and score points?
As on now, according to NFL.com’s Adam Schein, the answer is no. With NBA superstar LeBron James the inspiration, Schein comprised a list of players in the NFL who carry their respective teams, or at the very least the side of the ball they play on. Leonard Fournette checks in on the list, as Schein feels that the running back carries the entire offense for the Jaguars:
"7) Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville JaguarsBlake Bortles struggles with the forward pass. Jacksonville’s receivers are young and relatively inexperienced. Yet, the Jaguars, fresh off an AFC title game appearance, are rightly thinking big again in 2018 because of two things. Yes, that ferocious defense is first and foremost. But don’t overlook Fournette, whose tireless work on offense further boosts Jacksonville’s more-vaunted unit.Fournette pounds opposing defenses, even when they routinely sell out to stop the run and try to make Bortles beat them. Also, the beastly back’s ability to move the chains allows Jacksonville defenders well-deserved rest. It’s a lonely, LeBron-like world being the only player on the Jaguars’ offense keeping defensive coordinators up at night."
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Of course the explanation starts with a shot at quarterback Blake Bortles, who has become an easy target for the media. While not flashy, I don’t exactly think a 21-to-13 TD/INT ratio is the stats of a guy who “…struggles with the forward pass”. But having said that, the passing game, both Bortles and his group of receivers, have to step up in 2018 and reduce the pressure on the running game leading the charge.
The Jaguars are a ground and pound team to their core, and there’s no denying that Fournette is a critical piece to the offense. The now second-year back is the perfect style of hard-nosed runner that fits the philosophy of the team perfectly.
And saying that Fournette is the only member of the offense keeping defensive coordinators up at night is honestly true at the moment. As menacing and stacked as the defense is for Jacksonville, there’s a definite lack of star power on the opposite side of the ball, at least for the moment.
The Jaguars hope they have alleviated that with additions like Donte Moncrief, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and second rounder D.J. Chark, as well as expecting a big leap in year two from Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook. But until production is shown, Leonard Fournette is going to be seen as the only dangerous weapon on the offense.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be led by a powerhouse running back, especially on a team built like Jacksonville. But the Jaguars need some guys to step up alongside Fournette in 2018 to keep defenses on their toes.