The Jacksonville Jaguars’ season is over — in truth, it’s been over since October — and the game of towing the line between winning this year and preparing for the next has begun. It’s a game we know well, having watched this team clinch one winning season since 2008.
But a win was there for the taking yesterday. Josh Johnson hadn’t thrown an NFL pass since Barack Obama’s first term. The defense, while lapsing several times this year, was playing well enough to win. Special teams was giving us the edge. We were winning by a touchdown at halftime.
And then Leonard Fournette was effectively benched. After 13 touches in the first half he saw one carry — a 25-yarder late in the fourth quarter — while practice squad call up David Williams was given five carries.
That’s not to say Williams didn’t do well with his opportunities, he totaled 32 yards on his five touches, but Fournette was obviously frustrated during the game, standing with his arms crossed on the sideline as his backups saw increasing touches.
I’m not really sure what to make of it, honestly.
Was he injured in the first half?
“No,” Fournette said in his postgame injury.
Was it part of the game plan coming in?
“Yeah, that’s the game plan coming in.”
Was it some sort of message that head coach Doug Marrone was sending to Fournette and the rest of the team? Was it genuinely about getting a look at other guys on the roster ahead of 2019? And if you want to look at other players — specifically the running backs — why has the ship sailed so quickly on Carlos Hyde who the team gave up a fifth round pick for?
At the end of the day it’s a meaningless game between two teams who aren’t going to the playoffs, but the only reason this is a curious look from a coaching staff benching the supposed centerpiece of their offense.