The Jaguars running game was limited on Thursday night. It was something head coach addressed with the media on Friday afternoon.
Jaguars lead back ran for 66 yards on 15 carries, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Before a 69-yard run late in the fourth quarter, the former first-round draft pick had negative yards for the night.
At times, Fournette looked frustrated as he could not get through his blockers for positive yards in an off and on rainstorm at TIAA Bank Field, and every time the Jaguars ran through the middle of the Tennessee defense, it seemed as though defenders have an answer for the team’s running scheme.
It’s something that head coach Doug Marrone addressed when he spoke with the media via teleconference on Friday.
If Jacksonville is going to return to a balanced offensive game plan, the coaching staff will need to find a way to get more positive yards on the ground.
"“I have no issues with how Leonard’s [Fournette] working and trying. I think he may be trying too much because of the frustration,” Marrone explained.“I think that he has the ability to be a great player, but we have to do a much better job all around, both coaches [and] myself. I look at the leverage stuff, what we’re doing, and we’ve got to get this thing going. And I think that a lot of people are going to point out [how] he makes plays that sometimes go unnoticed.”"
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Fournette came to training in better shape than he was in 2018. It showed in the way he put in effort running the football and catching the ball out of the backfield. Add to the fact the Jaguars opened the season with his primary backup, Alfred Blue, on Injured Reserve with Ryquell Armstead as the second back on the roster, and adjustments had to be made.
For the record, Armstead did not have a carry in the 20-7 win over Tennessee on Thursday night. The only players to touch the ball on running plays were Fournette, wide receiver Dede Westbrook and quarterback Gardner Minshew. Marrone did commend the team for converting a big play for at least one time during the game.
"“I thought the third-and-fourteen where he was able to pick up eight-or-nine yards and get us the field goal was a big play in the game, so we’re going to really put a lot of work into getting that right because we know that as we keep going, it’s going to be very difficult for us to keep winning games unless we get this run game going,” he said."
Fournette is currently sixth in the NFL in rushing after his three games with 179 yards and a 4.2 yard-per-carry average which is much better than his last two seasons. Still, it is Marrone’s goal to make the running game better through blocking and strength so Fournette can excel under new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.
Look for the coaching staff to continue to find the right fit so the five best linemen are on the field for the game against Denver next week.
"“…I still think there will be competition with the guards and Will. We feel very comfortable about our tackle situation, having really one, two, three, four – having five players that can actually go into a game and play that position. I feel pretty good about that,” Marrone added."