The Jaguars should not give up on Leonard Fournette
Will the Jacksonville Jaguars keep Leonard Fournette on the roster or part ways with the fourth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft?
On the eve of Black Monday, the Jacksonville Jaguars finished their season with a 20-3 loss to the Houston Texans in what was more than likely quarterback Blake Bortles’ last game as a Jaguar. It was a lost season for the Jaguars, going 5-11 for the fifth time in franchise history.
As the offense struggled throughout the day — only garnering an abysmal 119 total yards — running backs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon starred on, arms crossed, waiting for their season to end. The attitudes of the former first and second round picks triggered a response from executive vice president of football operations, Tom Coughlin.
"“I am disappointed in the behavior today from T.J. Yeldon and Leonard Fournette,” Coughlin said in a statement released Sunday night. “They were disrespectful, selfish and their behavior was unbecoming that of a professional football player.”"
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In what was a conclusion to a frustrating season, fans, local reporters, and beat writers took their frustrations and piled them onto the running backs, especially Fournette.
The “hot takes” from everyone are a result of having to cover a team with one of the worst offenses in the NFL, as well as an ill-tempered locker room, and the continued disappointment of supporting a franchise that cannot sustain success. But Fournette is not the Jaguars’ “biggest problem”.
Yes, Fournette has given the Jaguars many red flags with injuries and attitude problems. But when healthy, Fournette can consistently deliver 1000 rushing seasons.
In his rookie season, despite missing three games, Fournette rushed for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns, as well as 302 receiving yards and a touchdown. In his sophomore season, Fournette missed eight games, only amounting to 624 scrimmage yards.
Despite the low stats, Fournette was still on track to gain over 1,000 scrimmage yards (1,248) if he played every game.
Last season — when he wasn’t in question — Fournette’s yards per carry was only 3.9. This season the number dipped down to 3.3. The yards per carry were never there, but the Jaguars’ offense is designed to be slow, methodical and with a heavy dose of run, which was effective when the offensive line was healthy, being the number rushing offense in 2017-18.
The problems that plagued the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018 were injuries, poor quarterback play and a complacent front office that settled for mediocrity expecting more.
It was general manager Dave Caldwell and Coughlin who decided to take defensive lineman Taven Bryan — who ended the season with one sack — instead of Lamar Jackson, as well as not attempt a trade for Teddy Bridgewater when the New York Jets called.
Not to mention the flurry of other opportunities to take a quarterback. Fournette is the smokescreen.
The truth is the Jaguars have nowhere to go with their running back situation without Fournette. Yeldon is a free agent and the Jaguars do not have the cap space to give the specialist running back what he will deman.
Carlos Hyde has proven with two other teams that he is not the answer. Still in his rookie contract with tons of upside, Fournette is the easy choice or should be.
Blaming Fournette is a most extreme way of expressing grievances toward a team that failed to meet the expectations of everyone, especially the front office. Fournette has a lot of growth to go, as a player and person, but let the heat of this season subside and logically think on his future as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars.