Leonard Fournette is exactly who we thought and hoped he would be.
He is an angry, ferocious, shifty, and extremely productive back. He creates positive yardage even when the hole isn’t there. And, more importantly, he falls forward when completing his runs.
Here in Jacksonville, we haven’t experienced a powerful runner since Maurice Jones-Drew. When teams in the league have a feared run game, their passing offense seems to fall more in place, and I believe that is the reason we were so productive against the Texans — Blake Bortles completed the game with zero sacks and interceptions, which is something that hasn’t happened since Week 2 of the 2015 season. With an effective play-action, the defense does not have the freedom to cheat and this prevents the defensive backs and linebackers from jumping routes or blitzing every play forcing the run.
With an efficient run game, we do not have to pass on a short second down. We can gain those yards early and give the offense more snaps which gives a better chance in a touchdown.
In Week 2, it was obvious that our run game was not as effective. The Titans did a great job stuffing the middle and forcing stretch run plays. With the run going to the outside, the Titans cornerbacks did a great job using the sideline as their 12th man.
Despite the Titans doing well against the run, Leonard still showed that he can break tackles and gain positive yardage for the first down. His first two games were very promising and I am confident that Fournette isn’t going to just be the best runner on this team, but possibly the best runner in the entire NFL.
Breaking Down Fournette's first 2 runs in the NFL. He runs like a veteran. He does small things like change of speed, direction & quick feet pic.twitter.com/RMpF0E0yvS— Laurie Fitzpatrick (@LaurieFitzptrck) September 19, 2017
Doug Marrone opens the season with back-to-back runs by Leonard Fournette. On the opening play, our tight end pulls to lead block for Fournette. Cam Robinson gets beat off the line to the outside by JJ Watt. Unfortunately, a quick fake is all it takes for the future Hall of Fame player to beat our rookie left tackle.
Tight end Ben Koyack, on the pull, is forced to pick him up leaving the linebacker Benardrick McKinney to free make the tackle. McKinney gets juked by a spin move inside his own front seven and their safety Andre Hal picks up the tackle.
Even though Fournette is brought down shortly after the line of scrimmage, he still manages to gain four yards. The spin move on his very first carry in the NFL is just a small taste of what Fournette’s capabilities are.
On the second play of the game, Fournette is lined up in the backfield in an Offset I formation, the play goes opposite of Watt. Clowney stays home instead of stepping towards the play and is picked up by our fullback Tommy Bohanon.
Fournette notices Clowney out of the play and so, he pulls the linebackers inside then uses his quick feet to bounce the play out. Lee makes a good decision to block the Safety and so the cornerback is the only man to beat. Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson gets run over by Fournette and somehow is able to hold onto his foot to make the tackle. After only the first two plays we can clearly see why he was the nation’s leader in forced missed tackles in NCAA last year.
And here are a couple plays against the Texans showing his ability to keep his feet moving after initial contact.
Yards after contact of Fournette week 1.. Full highlights this time. Week 2 coming soon pic.twitter.com/TMhW52SxBd— Laurie Fitzpatrick (@LaurieFitzptrck) September 19, 2017
Yeah, he’s good.
Now, onto the Titans...
Put together some yards after contact highlights for Week 2 vs Titans pic.twitter.com/XVyzRqVM4N— Laurie Fitzpatrick (@LaurieFitzptrck) September 20, 2017
The confidence in his strength is what allows him to reach the second level of the defense so quickly. This is something rare that you see in running backs with 4.5 speed. This is because they can get to the edge, and that is where they get the most yards. Fournette can do both. He can hit the linebackers with force and keep his feet moving and the has the ability and quickness to get to the edge and gain another 20 yards on the outside.
This next clip shows how quick he can find the smallest hole and then uses his speed burst to gain positive yardage.
His speed to the second level is unmatched.. pic.twitter.com/qfZFW90t5E— Laurie Fitzpatrick (@LaurieFitzptrck) September 19, 2017
Fournette is great taking the hand-off but he's also effective off the ball as well.
Here are some of his plays in play-action, blocking and receiving from both games the Jaguars have played so far.
In the opening game, Fournette shows great ball carrier vision, catching ability, skill to pick up the blitz and (most importantly) yards after initial contact. Even though Week 2 was a struggle for him, this is obviously a three down back that the Jaguars need in order make a run for the playoffs.
I expect Fournette to get the top number of carries in the league and look forward to seeing him get better as the season goes on.