JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The best ability is availability. It’s a phrase that Doug Marrone repeats often. During the 2018 the Jaguars were unable to count on Leonard Fournette, who missed eight games due to injury or suspension.
Position: Running Back
2018 Stats: 133 carries, 439 yards, 3.3 yards per carry and 5 TDs
2018 season in review: A hamstring injury caused Fournette to miss six of the Jaguars first eight games. Without the threat of the former No. 4 overall pick in the backfield the Jaguars offense completely imploded.
In hindsight was this a pick the Jaguars are already regretting? Coming out of LSU, Fournette had a reputation of being injury prone. Injuries are part of football but the alarming thing about this season is that even when Fournette was healthy he was largely ineffective.
Some of that blame goes to the issues along the offensive line as well as the Jaguars inability to have any vertical threats in the passing game. But how do you explain why Fournette was on the bench during moments when the game was within reach?
“A lot of times it’s who is running well at that point,” said Marrone after Fournette only got one carry in the second half of a loss to the Redskins. “With (David) Williams, it was a different situation where we were trying to get him carries in a game where we were behind. I wanted to make sure I got him carries and he did well. This week Carlos [Hyde] was running well and we stuck with Carlos and he was able to finish out the game. I wouldn’t look too much into all that stuff. We’re talking about split-second decisions.”
In 401 career carries, Fournette has picked up 20 or more yards on only six of them. As a rookie this year, Giants running back Saquon Barkely had 16 rushes of 20 yards or more.
Again this was a guy drafted No. 4 overall. Yes it’s in hindsight but Fournette was selected over a couple of quarterbacks named DeShaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes.
If it was just a down year on the field that’s one thing. But we haven’t even gotten to the various issues that have nothing to do with on the field production. By the way Fournette was voted as a team captain for this season.
-Getting ejected for throwing punches in a loss to the Bills
-Being suspended for one game due to the above incident
-Getting into a verbal altercation with a fan (Though Fournette said the fan used a racial slur)
-Sitting on the bench looking disinterested during the season finale at Houston
Following the Texans game, Tom Coughlin (who rarely speaks publicly) said the following:
Tom Coughlin statement on Fournette and Yeldon sitting on the bench:— Brian Jackson (@BrianJacksonTV) December 30, 2018
“I am disappointed in the behavior today from T.J. Yeldon and Leonard Fournette. They were disrespectful, selfish and their behavior was unbecoming that of a professional football player.” @Sports4Jax @wjxt4
Status for 2019: Jacksonville built their offense around Fournette. Now it’s a tossup whether he’ll even be on the roster in 2019. The Jaguars have voided the remaining guarantees on Fournette’s rookie contract.
Fournette is due to make $7.1 million in the final two years of what had been a fully guaranteed, four-year rookie deal worth $27.15 million. If Fournette fails to successfully appeal the void, the Jaguars could cut him without incurring any future financial obligations. It also might make trading for him more attractive to other teams considering the reduced financial risk.
Was this a move to wake Fournette up? Or will the team seriously consider trading him? I personally don’t think they would out-right cut him.
Even if Fournette is on the roster next season it’s time for the Jaguars to begin building their offense around somebody else.