Jacksonville Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette had a successful debut in the team’s 29-7 drubbing of the Houston Texans. Fournette picked up 100 yards rushing, which is something the Jaguars haven’t done in ages from a single back, and showed ability in the passing game.
Fournette finished with a stat line of 26 carries, 100 rushing yards (3.8YPC) a rushing touchdown and three receptions for 24 yards. Not an eye popping stat line, but a good one. You’d like to see his yards per carry in the 4.2 range, but overall pretty good right?
Fournette played well above his stat line when you go back and watch the film. I’m sure everyone is aware I was very critical of picking Fournette with the No. 4 overall pick, more so because of my opinion on the value of running backs and how the Jaguars/Doug Marrone’s offenses had operated in the past more than Fournette’s ability itself, but on Sunday his ability was on full display beyond the box score.
The fourth overall pick possess an ability as a running back that the Jaguars haven’t had since Maurice Jones-Drew was in his prime, and that’s the ability to fall forward on basically every down. Even when Fournette was bottled up in the backfield due to penetration by the Texans defense, he turned negative yard gains into two-yard gains. While on the surface that doesn’t sound like a lot, but 2nd-and-12 is a lot worse than 2nd-and-7.
Not only does Fournette possess the ability to “fall forward”, but he is decisive when choosing his running lane. He’s quick to the line because he knows where he wants to go and he goes. There’s no dancing around, no delay to find the hole, Fournette sees it and goes. If he’s going to bounce outside, there’s no dancing to it, he just bounces outside.
Teams are going to load the box against the Jaguars and make the team beat them through the air, and that started as early as Sunday against the Texans. As long as Fournette can continue to wear down defensive fronts, get good breathers from Chris Ivory and the offensive line gives him slivers of day light to work with like they did last Sunday, he can have a big season even if it’s not an eye popping box score.