Will Leonard Fournette Find More Consistency In 2018?

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Leonard Fournette
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Leonard Fournette /

For those of you caught up in a number’s game, Leonard Fournette averaged 80 yards per contest last season for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

When the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Leonard Fournette, they envisioned him as the bell cow back the team had missed since Maurice Jones-Drew was in his prime. The second-year player from LSU rushed for 1,040 yards over 13 games and scored 10 touchdowns during the regular season. It was a solid season by Fournette, who should have a better season in 2018 with an improved offensive line.

Just like other running backs selected in the top five of the NFL Draft, Fournette needs a better showing in 2018 if he is to be considered an elite talent and one of the most fearing rushers in the NFL.

For those of you caught up in a number’s game, Fournette averaged 80 yards per contest last season. Had he played a full 16 games, that amounts to 1,280 yards. It’s the kind of production the Jaguars hope for this season as their ground game will once again be the focal point of the offense.

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett will still lead with the run to set up the pass. Quarterback Blake Bortles won’t be asked to carry the burden of the offense. Fournette, TJ Yeldon, and Corey Grant form a solid trio that should continue to move the football down the field.

Russell Baxter of FanSided.com wrote a piece on Thursday outlining the five players who must improve this season for Jacksonville. Leonard Fournette is part of the quintet. If Fournette stays healthy (ankle and hamstring issues) and can remain as dominant in the second half of the 2018 season as he was in the first half of 2017, I believe this could be a special season for Leonard Fournette.

Just like myself, Baxter wants to see improvement.

“When it was all said and done, Doug Marrone’s team would lead the NFL in rushing yards per game. And [Leonard] Fournette would play a big role in that performance. This was a team that ranked 22nd in the league the previous season in that key category,” Baxter points out.

The Jaguars ran for a league-best 141.4 yards per contest on the ground, but looks are deceiving as the production of the team’s running game diminished the last seven games of the season. Fournette was the bruising back he showed down the stretch. Yeldon had a 100-yard performance in the seventh game of the season, a blowout of Indianapolis, while Fournette dealt with injuries. Grant was a nice change of pace runner who deserved more carries and should get them this season.

“Still, there was a bit of inconsistency when it came to his play. The talented performer ran for at least 100 yards on five occasions and was also limited to fewer than 50 yards on the ground in four contests,” explained Baxter. “He was a workhorse in the postseason, running at least 20 times in each game and totaling 70 attempts for 242 yards and four touchdowns in the three playoff outings.”

Should the Jaguars get the output from Fournette from the 2017 playoff run, there is no doubt he will finish higher than eighth in league rushing in 2018.