JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Over the next 20 days, News4Jax will count down the 20 most important figures to the Jaguars' success in the 2019 season.
Across the board Leonard Fournette’s sophomore campaign was a forgettable one. The Jaguars running back enters 2019 with his future in Jacksonville at a crossroads.
Position: Running Bback
2018 Stats: 133 carries, 439 rushing yards and 5 rushing TDs
2019 Projection: Much has been written about how Fournette fell short of expectations after a productive rookie season. Year No. 3 in Jacksonville could be make or break for No. 27. Injuries are part of the game. But if Fournette has off-the-field issues in 2019, the Jaguars would only take a $4.4 million cap hit if they cut him prior to the 2020 season.
On the field, Fournette looked the part during the offseason program. He spent a portion of the offseason working out in Wyoming with his old trainer from LSU. Although Fournette missed some of the voluntary portion of the offseason program, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said he was very pleased with what he saw out of Fournette when he was there.
Lately, NFL teams haven’t been afraid to take a running back in the top 10 of the draft. Todd Gurley (Rams), Ezekiel Elliot (Cowboys), Christian McCaffrey (Panthers) and Saquon Barkely (Giants) have all proven that their selections were the right move. Fournette was also taken in the top 10 and the jury is still out whether that decision was the right one for the Jaguars.
To be fair, none of the running backs listed above have had to run against eight- or nine-man boxes as frequently as Fournette. With Nick Foles at quarterback, teams will have to respect the Jaguars' ability to pass. That should give Fournette more room to operate.
Fournette will also have a large role in the passing games. In his first two years, the former LSU product had 487 receiving yards. If healthy (and that’s a big if) it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Fournette approach 400 yards receiving in 2019.
Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo on what he expects out of Leonard Fournette: I’m going to call it what it is. He’s going to be a major reason for where our offense goes. I’m not going to sugarcoat that. Leonard Fournette needs to be a big part of this offense. The harder he works, which he is right now, I think that’s not only going to be good for our offense, but good for our team.”
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