Will 2019 be the season Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette has his best year in black and teal?
I was interested in reading what Bucky Brooks had to say in his most recent piece on NFL.com, “Who’ll prove doubters wrong in 2019?” Brooks, who is one of my favorite reads on the Internet, made no mention of Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette in his list of players who will make writers like myself feel foolish for thinking this could be a crossroads season for the third-year pro.
Fournette has appeared to be the model teammate and player since arriving at Jaguars training camp the last weekend in July and has shown that he is in better shape than last season, more committed to winning football games and has shown more maturity so far on the playing field.
It could all lead to a monster season for the fourth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. It could also mean the rift between the player and the organization last season that boiled over into the beginning of the 2019 offseason could be a thing of the past.
"“I think he’s ready to have a heck of a year, in my opinion,” Doug Marrone said when he spoke after the Jaguars 22-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night."
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Although it was only 27 yards on the ground on seven carries, Marrone showed he could run with authority and a bruising style, much like his rookie campaign. But even as a youngster in the NFL two seasons ago, Fournette wasn’t running like Eric Dickerson or Barry Sanders. He was a bowling ball of sorts, pounding the defensive line looking for a crack to breakthrough and then galloped to the next level.
He and the Jaguars hope the improvements in the offseason and the work the team put in so far in camp will pay off with more wins in 2019.
"“I feel good,” Fournette said. “We’ve worked together throughout the entire camp. I believe Coach Doug has done a tremendous job of communicating with the players what he expects and what he wants – and also the players, what they expect out of themselves.“We’re pushing each other. I think everybody has that mindset that we want to be back where we were. That’s a good thing.”"
Fournette looks lighter than he was last season and quicker. He needs to move steadily toward a four-yard-per-carry average to help the passing game in short-yardage situations. Also, No. 27 could be the third-down back for the Jaguars this season, something that wasn’t thought to be possible the first two seasons he was in the NFL.
If Fournette does have a big season as the coaching staff predicts of him, the passing game led by new signal-caller Nick Foles will be better and more efficient. And the running backs, as we know, will be part of the passing game as well.
Fournette has a real chance to have the best season of his young NFL career. He led the team with 439 yards rushing last season, a total he amassed over eight games. Health must be a key to his season in 2019.
The coaching staff, especially Marrone, has stood up and taken notice of the change in the back Fournette has become.
"“I’m not going to go back to a year ago or anything like that,” Marrone said. “I just look at how he’s been since he reported to camp. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s taken a ton of reps, he’s worked extremely hard, he’s been a great finisher in practice.“It doesn’t surprise me that he went out there and did those types of things.”"