Jaguars and Leonard Fournette must continue to push forward
By David Levin
After being arrested on Thursday for knowingly driving with a suspended license and other traffic violations, the Jacksonville Jaguars and running back Leonard Fournette must move forward.
A local sports talk radio host here in Jacksonville hit the nail directly on the head on Friday morning, the day after it was announced that Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette was arrested on Thursday stemming from a traffic stop where he was knowingly driving with a suspended license.
As part of the conversation on The Drill morning drive talk show on 1010XL AM and 92.5 FM, Jeff Prosser said fans are mad at Fournette’s actions because of his lack of performance from last season. Fournette spent half of the 2018 season out of the lineup with injuries and a one-game suspension. Had the former first-round draft pick from LSU picked up where his 2017 rookie campaign left off, this might not be as big a discussion as it has been over the past 24 hours.
According to multiple sources including ESPN.com, the third-year Jaguars running back paid a $1,580 bond and was released 30 minutes after being booked into the Duval County Jail on Thursday afternoon.
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While it may not seem like a big deal to some pertaining to an arrest for a suspended license, it is another mark on a young career full of potential and little return on the Jaguars investment.
Fournette was the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and has had what can be described as a rocky start with the Jaguars and his NFL career. Questions about his commitment to football, his injury history, and his lack of self-discipline have taken up more headlines than those expected of a player who is the Jaguars want to build an offense around.
So far, the team and the fan base are waiting to see if the 24-year-old New Orleans native will learn from his mistakes. It appears from a football standpoint,
Per multiple sources, The Jaguars issued a statement on Thursday, after it was made public that Fournette had been arrested.
"“The Jacksonville Jaguars are aware of the situation involving running back Leonard Fournette and are continuing to gather more information. No further comment will be provided at this time.”"
After missing six full games last season due to a hamstring injury and a half a game of two others, the Jaguars offense suffered greatly without Fournette in the lineup. He missed one other game after being suspended by the NFL for a fight with Shaq Lawson after he ran onto the field to defend his teammates during a 24-21 loss to Buffalo.
Since news about Fournette broke, fans, as expected, have taken to social media in various forms to express their feelings over another incident involving the star running back. It’s a situation the Jaguars had hoped they would not have to deal with again, but the arrest on Thursday once again raised questions about his maturity, his commitment to the Jaguars, and his commitment to an NFL career that could still be one of the best in team history and potentially one of the best in NFL analyst.
So what do the Jaguars do? There is no word yet if the organization will take action against Fournette, whose 2017 campaign was the second best for a rookie in team history.
The Jaguars hired Terry Robiskie as their running backs coach this offseason. The former LSU player is expected to work with Fournette and help him develop as a player on and off the field. The Jaguars hope the Louisiana connection for both men would be a great asset for Fournette.
As I wrote a month ago, Fournette worked out at the University of Wyoming this offseason with Wyoming director of sports performance Ben Iannacchione, with whom Fournette worked at Louisiana State University. He had been in communication with head coach Doug Marrone and the front office since their sit-down meeting after the 2018 season.
Fournette took to social media on many occasions, showing a leaner player working out, getting in football shape for the upcoming season. I also wrote with everyone in the Jaguars organization on the same page, and a new offensive coordinator in John DiFilippo on board to scheme a new system where the running game is still the major focus, Fournette could have the biggest season of his short NFL career.
Now, we all must wonder how long the Jaguars will allow Fournette to continue to show a lack of good judgment and remain with the team. He has superior talents that could be wasted, thus hurting his career and the Jaguars. He had his guarantees voided in his rookie deal following the fight in Buffalo last season.
It’s possible Fournette is at a crossroads in his young life in his early NFL career. It’s up to him to decide which path he chooses to take. It’s also up to the Jaguars to deal with the situation in such a manner that helps both the man and player and the organization for the remaining two years of his rookie deal.