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Jaguars gambled at running back and it backfired

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NFL: New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars offense sputtered in Sunday’s 9-6 loss to the Tennessee Titans, but one bright spot was the play of backup running back TJ Yeldon, who was carrying the load in place of Leonard Fournette who was kept out once again nursing a hamstring injury. Yeldon was picking up chunks of yards on the ground and making some plays in the passing game, but there were some long stretches where he was out of the game and the offense sputtered without him.

Yeldon was still working through an ankle injury that limited him in practice the week leading up to the game.

“T.J. [Yeldon] was fighting through it so we had to take him out for a little bit and then put him back in,” Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said in his opening statement after the loss on Sunday. “Give credit to Tennessee. They beat us. We know we’ve got to score points against them and we didn’t score, and that’s something we’ve got to work on and do a better job of. We all know we can execute when we do it the right way, but today we didn’t execute.”

With Yeldon out, the only options were trying to treat Corey Grant like a true running back with ineffective results or putting trust in newly called up back Brandon Wilds. Grant averaged 1.8 yards per carry and was bottled up trying to run between the tackles, even missing a huge cut back lane on one carry and completely ineffective in the passing game. Wilds got just one carry for five yards and that was about that.

The Jaguars gambled this offseason either flat out not replacing Chris Ivory or gambling that Grant could grow into the necessary duties of being a full time running back and this was a game where that backfired. With Yeldon needing to take some breathers due to his injury the running game just flat out died. The team had no other real viable option with Fournette out and it showed on Sunday. This was something I mentioned when guessing 53-man roster breakdowns and seeing people with the team keeping six receivers after the Marqise Lee injury and only three running backs (really... only two).

I would expect the Jaguars bring in some running backs for workouts on Tuesday just to see if there’s anything out there they’d like to hold onto until both Fournette and Yeldon are fully healthy rather than carry a consistently inactive Rashad Greene.