With the Jacksonville Jaguars continuing to emphasize the running game as the focus of the offense, is it inevitable that Leonard Fournette will be the team’s MVP?
After taking LSU star running back Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars made no attempt to hide what they wanted to do on offense – run the ball. Newly promoted head coach Doug Marrone went as far to say that the ideal number of times quarterback Blake Bortles would throw the ball is exactly zero.
While tongue in cheek, Marrone’s comment was indicative of the identity the team wanted on offense. Cleary Fournette was the centerpiece of the new philosophy and his importance became evident right away when the regular season began.
Fournette carried the ball 26 times in a week 1 victory over the Texans and most of his starts followed a similar pattern. Heading into 2018, the plan is likely the same considering the team didn’t add another high usage running back to the roster. Fournette is going to get a lot of carries and put up some big numbers.
Dan Hanzus over at NFL.com put together his list of MVP candidates for each team and with the Jaguars he went with the somewhat obvious choice:
"Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RBFournette’s rookie season was a hit-and-miss affair. At times, he looked like the young star the Jags thought they were getting when they drafted him fourth overall. But he also looked slow and hobbled for long stretches, averaging less than 4 yards per carry during the regular season and playoffs. New season, new expectations for Fournette, who must blossom into a dependable stud if Jacksonville is going to take the next step. The addition of mauling guard Andrew Norwell in free agency could be just what Fournette needs. Ground and pound, baby."
MVP means different things to different people, but in the most literal sense it’s debatable as to whether or not Fournette fits the bill. Albeit a small sample size, the Jaguars did just fine when Fournette was out of the lineup in 2017. Bortles had by far his best performances when Leonard was out. Blake is high variance and unpredictable, but it’s probably not a complete coincidence that he stepped up and played well when he had to shoulder more of the load on offense.
Picking Fournette here really just feeds into the ‘one-man band’ perception of the offense. Fournette is the focus on offense, but he’s probably not even a top 5 player on the roster when you consider how stacked the lineup is on defense. Give me Jalen Ramsey or Calais Campbell as the team’s MVP any day.
What do you think?