Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette should have a breakout season in 2020.
Despite two disappointing seasons for the Jaguars, one player has continued to be effective – running back Leonard Fournette.
The 2017 No. 4 overall pick hasn’t received a lot of love from media and fans, the prior offensive coaches haven’t played to his strengths and yet Fournette has remained the Jags’ best offensive weapon. Along with being a formidable runner, Fournette has added new skill sets each year, improving on both his blocking skills and pass-catching.
This season, it would seem Fournette will be more effective because new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden will better utilize him in his offensive schemes, and, a much-needed fullback has been added to the roster. Add to that the growth of quarterback Gardner Minshew and an improved offensive line, and it’s easy to see why Fournette is poised for perhaps his best season yet.
From his comments in a recent press conference, it would seem Gruden and Fournette have formed a good relationship. Gruden needs a solid running back and Fournette needs a breakout season.
“He’s a great player and everything you’ve seen on tape with Jacksonville, his production last year was excellent, and so far so good. He’s been working hard. He’s learning our new system and I’m excited to work with him.”
Fournette is at his best when he’s got a lead blocker helping to clear a path. He’s not a guy who dances around or makes jump cuts to find holes. The former LSU star has a quick first step and powers his way through the line, using his open-field speed to elude the secondary. The Jaguars added fullback Bruce Miller to the roster, and could also utilize tight ends in Gruden’s scheme. He is at his very best in this formation.
The Jaguars have started four quarterbacks during Fournette’s short time with the team. Each requires some adjustments. Gardner Minshew returns as the starting quarterback after a productive rookie season.
In addition, Minshew has a young but solid receiving corps that will take some of the pressure off the running game. Fournette caught 76 passes for 522 yards as a great release man for Minshew. His previous high was only 36. This skill can really help Minshew in a tight spot and give Fournette an opportunity in the open field.
Finally, there are high hopes for the offensive line this season. The tackle position has Jawaan Taylor entering his second year and Cam Robinson is healthy and looks great. Center Brandon Linder is solid anchoring the line, and rookie Ben Barch is ready to take over at right guard.
Offensive line play is critical to the success of Fournette and the rest of the team. If the line doesn’t perform, it will mean struggles for both Fournette and the rest of the offense.
If Fournette and Gruden continue to grow as a team and develop mutual trust, along with the other additions and improvements the team has made, the sky is the limit for Fournette and the rest of the Jaguars offense.