JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After Leonard Fournette’s frustration reached a new level, the Jacksonville Jaguars running back reached out — to his coaches, his dad and even a Hall of Famer.
Fournette had a series of meetings and calls this week after carrying the ball a season-low eight times in a 20-point loss to Indianapolis. The most notable of them was chatting with 1981 Heisman Trophy winner and retired Oakland Raiders star Marcus Allen, who told the third-year pro about his experience having to play fullback and share a backfield with fellow Heisman winner Bo Jackson more than 30 years ago.
“His situation was harder than mine,” said Fournette, who first met Allen during a recruiting visit to USC while he was in high school. “So kind of opened my eyes, you know? Whenever (you’re) going through something, most people have gone through it worse. So kind of brushed it off when I heard his narrative, his story.”
Fournette’s touches have been on the decline since he gained 131 yards on 29 carries against Cincinnati last month. He ran 19 times for 76 against the New York Jets the following week and then 11 times for 40 yards against Houston in London.
Following a bye week, Fournette touched the ball a season-low 15 times against the Colts. He ran eight times for a season-worst 23 yards and caught seven passes for 34 more.
The former LSU star also has just one touchdown in 10 games this season, a baffling dry spell that prompted him to scream at the sideline after offensive coordinator John DeFilippo called for a pitch play to the short side of the field on second and goal from the 1. Fournette lost 7 yards — and then his temper.
He eventually calmed down, but it didn’t last.
Fournette was upset again about his usage — or lack thereof — at Indianapolis.
Coach Doug Marrone shouldered the blame for abandoning the run in a 10-point game early in the third quarter.
“That was a big mistake by me,” Marrone said. “It becomes a two-score game, and I just felt the way that they were running the ball I thought we needed to score points in a quicker fashion. I think that’s what led to the increased pass attempts, so that’s on me as the head coach.
“I know we need to be more balanced moving forward.”
Fournette felt the same way. He called his father and Allen to vent and then sat down with the offensive staff to iron out any differences.
“Just talking to my daddy, he’s always been there for me,” Fournette said. “His words mean more than anybody else’s words, to be honest.”
Fournette expects a bigger workload when the Jaguars (4-6) play at Tennessee (5-5) on Sunday, a game both teams need to win to keep close to Houston (7-4) in the AFC South.
“It’s about winning,” Fournette said. “Winning solves everything. That’s all it’s about. We always prepare so hopefully ... we’ll execute and everything’ll just come together.”