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How valuable is Leonard Fournette to the Jacksonville Jaguars offense?

Brandon Carroll

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Jul 26, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs with the ball following a catch as Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack (44) runs behind during training camp at the Dream Finder Homes practice facility outside of TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off an injury-plauged season, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette looks to come back into the fold to boost a team that saw a significant decrease in production in his absence in 2018. 

“Refocused on football”, as Fournette says, entering his third year in the NFL, he looks to bring a spark back to the running game that made the Jaguars so successful in the 2017 season. 

But, exactly how valuable is Fournette to the Jaguars offense? 

Fournette is a cornerstone for the Jaguars organization as a whole. A man that had 268 carries and gained 1,040 yards in his rookie season, helped the Jaguars to be near top the NFL in rushing. A significant reason for their run late into the playoffs. 

Fournette being off the field was detrimental to the offensive scheme due to the star running back having little to no replacement in his absence. The Jaguars spent the entire season plugging and playing running backs from all around the league into their system. 

As the record shows, none were as productive as Fournette. 

Fournette was sidelined due to a lingering ankle injury in 2017 dating back to his days at LSU where he missed significant amounts of time. This injury was a worry going into the 2017 draft where Jacksonville selected him 4th overall. The Jaguars took a chance to get a guy that — when healthy — is atop the league in rushing. Although the gamble somewhat paid off in 2017, the injuries caught back up last season and many began questioning if they made the right choice in drafting him just a year prior. Last season Fournette was once again sidelined, however this time for much longer — missing a total of eight games, including six of the first nine games of the season.

 But, looking at how much he produces when he’s truly healthy and on the field for the Jaguars is too much to gloss over. Fournette brings a running style not many players of his stature contain. A brute force, downhill runner that can truck over the defenders or take the ball to the outside and burn them with his speed. Coming back will offer a reignited offensive attack for the Jaguars. Fournette brings a certain swagger that is uncontainable. If he’s in rhythm, the offense is in rhythm. 

Nick Foles, the marquee free agent signing for the Jaguars in the offseason and new face of the franchise, is going to be reliant on Fournette being in that rhythm. 

While in Philadelphia, Foles was most consistent when his running game was strong. Play action passes and run-pass option plays are hugely incorporated into not only an offense Foles plays in but in John Defilippo’s offensive scheme. Defilippo stated during OTAs that “(Fournette) needs to be a big part” of the offense. The recognition of his talent is not overlooked by the coaching staff and therefore he is going to be vital. Getting him the ball early and often will be a game plan going into every game. 

Looking as if he will be the bell-cow running back, Fournette should be handed the ball upwards of 20-25 times per game. A similar situation to how the Cowboys incorporate Ezekiel Elliot into their offense. Giving the ball to the playmakers is a great strategy for any team. 

This will force the defense to crowd the box and open up passing lanes all over the field for Defilippo and Foles to recognize and pick apart. 

Fournette will also be catching a multitude of passes out of the backfield and maybe even seen on third downs now and then. While he is very underrated for his pass catching ability, Fournette was 7th among qualified running backs for yards per catch at 10 yards last season in his eight games according to Pro Football Focus. 

The Jaguars coaches realize getting the ball in his hands as many ways as possible is important.  

Running the ball down the opposing team’s throat, and then countering with play-action passes is going to be a lot of what Jaguars fans see in the 2019 season. Without a strong running game that Fournette brings to the table, that scheme simply will not work. 

While he is focused on remaining healthy to aid his squad to as many victories as possible, he has also shifted his focus on the activities he takes part in off the field. As many people make mistakes, Fournette has had a history of off the field issues that the Jaguars have tended to stay patient with. Primarily because of his undeniable talent. 

As his career continues, Fournette looks to get back on track and do big things in the Jaguars offense. Doing so in 2019 will mean nothing but success for the team. It’s a direct relationship. If Fournette plays well so does the team. 

Brandon Carroll is an 18-year-old college student aspiring to be a sports journalist. Has written articles over the past few years for fun and had two published within In The Game magazine. Locked On Jags is his first real opportunity to showcase his writing and love for sports.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith apparently fined by team

Demetrius Harvey

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Dec 2, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars outside linebacker Telvin Smith (50) reacts during the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have apparently fined LB Telvin Smith for missing three days of mandatory minicamp. This amount, according to Telvin Smith on Instagram, was for a total of $88,650. Telvin Smith decided to leave the game of football for a year last month and has not shown up to any team activities since the season ended in January.

https://www.instagram.com/stories/telvinsmith50/

Smith stated in his Instagram post “Oh y’all  thght [sic] it was a game!!! You say you wanna sit & get ya life right. . . they say nah […] you pay me!!!” also stating “It’s still love!!”

The Jaguars have every right to fine Smith under the current CBA signed in 2011 regarding mandatory participation in team activities. Smith has not yet informed the Jaguars officially of his intentions for the 2019 season, thus he is still considered a part of the team and on the 90-man roster.

It is not yet known whether or not the team has opted to fine DE Yannick Ngakoue who was also missing from mandatory minicamp last week as he resolves his contract with the team.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars sign WR Tre McBride and DT Kalani Vakameilao

Demetrius Harvey

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The Jacksonville Jaguars announced today the signings of WR Tre McBride and Rookie DT Kalani Vakameilalo. Both players had a tryout during yesterday’s minicamp practice. They have waived LB Nick DeLuca and LS Christian Kuntz to make room.

McBride has played for the Tennesee Titans, Chicago Bears, and the New York Jets during his time in the NFL. In 2017 he hauled in eight receptions for 144 yards. His lone touchdown came in 2015 with the Tennesee Titans. The Jaguars currently have 12 WRs on the roster including McBride. They will enter training camp for a battle for possibly five or six spots. Currently, it would be a surprise if McBride makes the team.

Vakameilao went undrafted out of Oregon State where he posted 75 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars finalize draft class with signing of LB Quincy Williams

Demetrius Harvey

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Photo courtesy of nfldraftdiamonds.com

The Jacksonville Jaguars have officially wrapped up their 2019 NFL Draft class with the signing of third-round pick Quincy Williams the team has announced today. Williams played college football at Murray State as a linebacker and safety and will be playing LB with the Jaguars.

Following the departure of WLB Telvin Smith, the Jaguars needed to find a replacement, and they hope Williams can eventually develop into that role. During OTAs and mandatory minicamp, Williams has taken some first-team reps at LB along with LB Ramik Wilson. The WLB battle will be one to watch during training camp later this summer.

Williams spoke briefly following the signing of his contract stating, “I’ve been dreaming on this and waiting on this moment my whole life,” Williams said. “I’m just here to answer the question of, ‘Who is Quincy Williams?’”

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