After his 225-yard performance on Sunday, has Leonard Fournette found the magic elixir to give the Jacksonville Jaguars a running identity once again?
It’s good the see Leonard Fournette crack a smile. After his 225-yard performance on Sunday in Denver, the Jacksonville Jaguars running back was doing a lot of that. Hopefully, there will be more for the third-year running back to smile about as the season progresses.
For now, Fournette and the Jaguars offense finally appear to be on the same page, which means the franchise’s identity as a run-first, smash-mouth football team has returned to Duuuval.
It was something head coach Doug Marrone has hoped with work with improvements made to the offense. And as the Jaguars continue to develop on offense and continue to let the defense do its thing, Fournette figures to get more carries and more opportunities to be “the guy” in the team’s game plan.
John DeFilippo, the Jaguars offensive coordinator has to be smiling as well since he told the media early in OTAs Fournette would get plenty of opportunities to carry the football.
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"“A reason Marrone said the Jaguars improved dramatically in the running game Sunday compared to Weeks 1-3 was the improvement of the offensive line.” John Oehser of Jaguars.com wrote. “But Marrone said another reason was the offense had more opportunities to run.”"
And as we all know, the Jaguars have wanted to be a run-first team since Tom Coughlin and Marrone walked into TIAA Bank Field as the EVP of Football Operations and Head Coach, respectively.
The Jaguars also showed they could play from behind and come out victorious. It’s another part of the growth of this football team.
"“We needed to get those plays,” Marrone said, “and in order to get extra plays or more plays, you have to do well on third down. Our average has been OK, but we didn’t have enough attempts.” The Jaguars were four of seven on third downs in the second half. “It’s going to go back to the ability to stay on the field and run plays.”"
Last season was a lost cause for Fournette, who was injured a majority of the first half of 2018 and hen suspended for one game for fighting. He was overweight and out of shape. There was a sense he didn’t take the game or his team seriously. You see a more committed player on the field, a more determined man on the practice field and a more mature player on the sideline.
If you are looking for a barometer of how things have gone this season so far, Fournette ran for 439 yards for the season and has 404 yards in four games in 2019. While the record-setting day does inflate his stats, he is averaging 5.6 yards a carry.
Lost in the excitement of Fournette’s afternoon on Sunday was the eight-carry, 42-yard performance from rookie running back Ryquell Armstead. He was also a difference-maker on the ground. He also caught a touchdown pass of seven yards from Gardner Minshew on the opening drive of the second half.