It’s looking more and more like Leonard Fournette was a one-hit wonder for the Jacksonville Jaguars – a football version of Los Del Rio singing “The Macarena.”
Fournette ran for more than 1,000 yards during his rookie season and the Jags not only made the playoffs for the first time since 2007 but advanced all the way to the AFC Championship Game. Ah, remember how things were looking up for the Jaguars back then? They were so pumped up they even signed Blake Bortles to an extension.
Much of Bortles’ and the Jaguars’ success in 2017 was due to the ground game; a ground game in which the Jaguars ranked first in total rushing at 141 yards per game and tied Dallas and Tennessee for second in rushing touchdowns with 18. Despite that success, Fournette averaged just 3.9 yards per carry. That, in itself, should have been a warning sign.
Last year, however, would tell a different story. Dealing with injuries for a better part of the season, Fournette played in just eight games and never once rushed for 100 yards. He ended the season with less than 500 yards rushing and averaged a miserable 3.3 yards per carry.
The Jaguars were perhaps the NFL’s most disappointing team and went from first in the league in rushing to 19th. No back on the roster ran for 100 yards in in a game and the Jags tied for last in the league with only seven rushing TDs. Consequently, the team missed the playoffs and finished last in the AFC South.
Let's also not forget that Fournette received a one-game suspension during his inexplicable scuffle with Shaq Lawson of the Bills. Later, Fournette would get into a verbal confrontation with a fan in Tennessee. He also was arrested for speeding, driving with illegally tinted windows, and driving with a suspended license. After the season, team vice president Tom Coughlin lambasted Fournette and fellow running back T.J. Yeldon for being “disrespectful and selfish.”
So here we are headed into the 2019 season. The Jaguars have a new quarterback, a slew of new offensive coaches, and a new outlook.
Maybe it’s time for them to ditch Fournette, who is in the third-year of a four-year rookie deal that includes a fifth-year option. Should he fail to perform up to expectations, what's to stop the team from trying to deal him? He is on a rookie contract with multiple years remaining, he has playoff experience and has shown he can be a workhorse. Yes, the injuries and immaturity are massive red flags but maybe a change of scenery would be best for him - and the Jags for that matter.
The Jaguars should at least investigate if there is a market for Fournette and trade him while they still can.
Otherwise, they may stuck with a one-hit wonder running back who is still dancing to the Macarena while the rest of the league passes him by.