Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette was one of the league’s biggest disappointments in 2018, rushing for just 439 yards and five touchdowns while averaging a meager 3.3 yards per carry.
In Fournette’s defense, the entire Jaguars team was a massive bust this past season, but people expected more from the second-year back who had just totaled over 1,000 rushing yards in helping lead Jacksonville to the AFC Championship Game during his rookie campaign.
Now, Fournette is entering his third NFL season, and the pressure is on him to have a good year. After all, the 24-year-old missed half the season in 2018 due to injury issues, and when he was on the field, he looked out of shape.
So, here are three numbers for Fournette to target in 2019.
3. 16 Games
Fournette has been in the NFL for two years, and he has played in just 21 games total. He missed three contests during his rookie year, and he sat out eight games in 2018.
For a guy who is supposed to be a lead running back, that is unacceptable, and if it doesn’t change this coming season, the Jags may have to start looking elsewhere for a No. 1 back.
Obviously, injuries are somewhat out of a player’s control, but in Fournette’s case, you have to wonder how much malaise contributed to his issues, as, again, he looked kind of slow and lumpy even when he was healthy, which the Jaguars were apparently not too happy about.
Fournette has seemed to be working hard this offseason, so hopefully he can avoid the injury bug in 2019 and remain in shape at the same time.
2. 1,000 Yards
It is blatantly obvious that Fournette will be the Jaguars’ featured running back heading into this season, as Alfred Blue and rookie fifth-round pick Ryquell Armstead are his only competition in the backfield.
That means Fournette should get a ton of touches, especially considering that Jacksonville doesn’t exactly have a ton of weapons in the passing game, even though it did make the change from Blake Bortles to Nick Foles under center.
Fournette carried the ball 268 times in 13 games during his rookie year, and I see no reason why he won’t have a similar workload in 2019, especially considering he only logged 133 attempts in an abbreviated season in 2018.
So, Fournette, who totaled 1,040 yards in 2017, should be able to finish with 1,000 yards rushing on the year, provided that he remains healthy.
1. 4.5 Yards Per Carry
Fournette has not exactly been a beacon of efficiency since entering the NFL.
Even during his rookie year when he registered over 1,000 yards, he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, and in 2018, he was at 3.3, a truly horrendous number.
Now, I understand that Fournette is a bruising back who is used frequently in short-yardage situations, but that doesn’t excuse him from not averaging at least four yards per attempt.
Perhaps 4.5 yards per carry is a bit of a stretch for Fournette given how inefficient he has been and that the Jaguars don’t exactly have a great offensive line, but if he wants to develop into an elite back, that is the number for which he has to shoot.
Heck, so long as he shows considerable improvement from his first two years, that’s all that really matters.