If Leonard Fournette wants to find the end zone more times this season, he will need to become a more elusive runner for the Jaguars in 2020.
This season, Fournette needs to be more elusive when he takes the football from quarterback Gardner Minshew. He is 24th on the list PFF put out, ranking running backs based on how elusive they are.
An argument can be made (and it has many times this offseason) where Leonard Fournette falls in the pecking order of running backs in the NFL. I have him in the top 10 or right outside the marker. Given the Jaguars offense was pitiful last season (18.8 points a game) and the running game was in the middle of the pack (17th overall) there is plenty of work to be done.
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Fournette has two things working against him this season. First, the Jaguars offense will be redesigned – a more passing oriented look to compliment Minshew and the wide receivers. Second, he is more than likely playing his final season in Jacksonville. The audition to play somewhere else will be less this season because he will not be counted on to carry the load of the game plan.
He will need to make the most of his opportunities and remember the former LSU star scored just three touchdowns in 2019. That’s not a ringing endorsement.
"“There’s not a whole lot of lateral agility to Fournette’s game, and he hasn’t shown the kind of physical dominance needed to simply run through defenders play after play as he did in college,” Ben Linsey writes.“Fournette did play easily the largest role of his career in 2019 — serving as a true three-down back in the Jacksonville offense — but the numbers he put up were largely a product of volume rather than efficiency, particularly as a receiver where just 23 of his 76 receptions went for first downs or touchdowns. He’ll have to earn his second contract next season after the Jaguars failed to pick up the former top-five pick’s fifth-year option.”"
There isn’t much else to say when the facts speak for themselves. The Jaguars used Leonard Fournette in as much space as they could last season. He also became a better blocker and served more as a leader on the field. Those intangibles helped him to become a better player overall without doing the one thing he needed to accomplish more than anything – spending time in the end zone.
The Jaguars added Chris Thompson this offseason to the running back room. He is very familiar with the offense, having played in Washington with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. Second-year running back Ryquell Armstead is also on the roster. Having three solid runners on the team is a luxury the Jaguars did not have last season.
Thompson will serve as a true third-down back in 2020.