Even with a 4-7 record, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette continues to show he is the workhorse of the team’s offense this season.
The statistics don’t lie. Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette is having his best season in the NFL. The team’s record may not reflect the improvement in Fournette’s game, but as far as the numbers, he continues to show progress in becoming a more complete player.
Per Tad Dickman of the Jaguars public relations department, Fournette becomes the second player in Jaguars history with Maurice Jones-Drew as the only players in team history to post at least 1,250 scrimmage yards through the team’s first 11 games of a season. Not bad for a player who many of the local media, including myself, thought would have another sub-par season like 2018.
Fournette, the fourth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, is on pace for 1,383 yards this season on the ground. He has also caught 56 passes this year, which ties DJ Chark for the team lead. That’s a pace of 81 for the year, providing the offensive game plan coordinator John DeFilippo installed this offseason runs through his bell-cow back like it was advertised.
It’s a different look for Fournette who was injured for half of the 2018 season and missed one game due to suspension, fell out of favor with the front office and was disciplined for his actions that were detrimental to the organization. It might have been the wake-up call he needed to become more mature on and off the field.
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Whatever it did, it has worked so far and a learner, healthier player is now becoming the face of the franchise. It could also have an effect on how the Jaguars decide their future with Fournette in the lineup.
Fournette has shown his frustrations on the field the past two games prior to the 42-20 loss to the Titans for not getting more carries out of the backfield. It is something the coaching staff worked on this past week to make sure No. 27 was a big part of the offense. He delivered with 97 yards on the ground and nine catches in the passing game. Currently, he is sixth in the NFL in rushing and fourth in the AFC.
The only knock on his game so far is his lack of touchdowns, which is three. That’s more of an indictment on the team’s lack of offensive push in the red zone than anything else. Fournette had two scores on Sunday afternoon, which might be a sign of things to come in the final five weeks of the season.
At 4-7 and the playoffs not even a question for this organization, the Jaguars could stick to the running game and pound the football down the throats of their opponents. It’s something the running back would like to see. Keeping him as the focal point of the offense will take some of the pressure off the passing game, which has looked shaky the past two weeks.
As long as the Jaguars continue to commit to Fournette and his ability to lead the offense, the effort will be there. It’s a pleasant sight for the coaching staff and the organization. It’s one that fans wondered about at the start of this season. They don’t have to wonder or worry anymore.
Fournette wants the football and to be the focal point of how good this offense and team can be.