The Jacksonville Jaguars were without starting running back Leonard Fournette for the second straight week and the offense looked like it was leaning on Blake Bortles and the passing game quite a bit more than normal.
When asked if the game plan this week included Fournette, Bortles said postgame that it’s not too different a game plan whether they have their bell cow back in or not.
“It’s not all that different of a game plan,” Bortles said after the game. “I think probably more so in Nathaniel’s [Hackett] mind of figuring that stuff out. We got the plan early this week and were ready to go and if Leonard [Fournette] was going to be able to go then we were fine with that. If not, we find a way to find running lanes and run the ball. We just have to be better.”
In Week 1, running backs ran the ball 11 of the 29 snaps while Fournette was healthy, with Fournette getting nine of those rushes. Of those 18 passes, five went to running backs. So we’ve got 16 of 29 snaps with running backs touching the ball. Just under half the snaps are runs and when you mix in the short passes, the running backs are involved a little more than half the time.
In Week 2, when Fournette was ruled out right before kickoff, Bortles was given the ball in his hands 51 times — 45 pass attempts and six runs. Running backs had 17 runs and eight catches, with a new element of Corey Grant doing more than just catching in the flat and running up field. He caught a couple of passes over the middle and played as a receiver/running back hybrid depending on the play call, situation, etc... Blake was asked to pass the ball more than twice as often as a running back was touching it.
And today, in Week 3, with the score difference never larger than three points, running backs had just 14 runs and seven catches. Compare that to 42 touches by Blake — 34 pass attempts, five runs, and three sacks. Like Week 2, Blake was given twice as many passing opportunities as running backs.
In all, I just cannot imagine a Fournette-led group of running backs getting half the touches that Blake does, especially in an ugly game where the quarterback is struggling and you’re never down more than three points.