Each offseason, every NFL team focuses on at least one area in need of an upgrade. So what aspect of the Jacksonville Jaguars is looking better these days?
Training camp begins later this month for all 32 NFL teams. So that means another preview series from End Zone Score. Dating back to early March, we have taken time to look at each club’s best offseason addition. We even dabbled into some pertinent and historical numbers and previewed an up-and-coming player for each franchise.
Contrary to popular opinions, no team in the league is perfect. That’s why there’s a constant search for talent when it comes to this game. Each club has done its best to bolster its roster. So in this instance, we are going to take a glance at each franchise and pinpoint the department in which it made the most strides this offseason. We have looked at the AFC East, NFC East, AFC North and NFC North. We’ve talked Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts. We are wrapping up our look at the AFC South by focusing on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Back in 2011, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew led the NFL with an impressive 1,606 rushing yards. Unfortunately, all of his efforts couldn’t prevent the team from finishing 5-11. Conversely, it marked the first of six consecutive seasons (and counting) of 11-plus losses for the club.
As it that wasn’t bad enough, look at the Jaguars’ rushing totals each of the past five seasons: 1,369 (2012), 1,260 (2013), 1,633 (2014), 1,473 (2015) and 1,631 this past year. As of late, that lack of support hasn’t helped the cause of quarterback Blake Bortles. The absence of balance has made it tougher on the three-year signal-caller Blake Bortles. Unfortunately, he took a step backwards in ’16 after making some strides in his second NFL campaign. All told, turnovers continue to plague the third overall pick in the 2014 draft.
Enter the fourth selection in the ’17 draft. LSU running back Leonard Fournette played in just seven games this past year. He ran for 843 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. One season earlier, he racked up 300 attempts for 1,953 yards and 22 scores on the ground for the Fighting Tigers. Again, that’s 6.5 yards per handoff.
Fournette is just the third running back to be drafted in the first round by the franchise, joining James Stewart (1995) and highly-productive Fred Taylor (1998). Meanwhile, the team also went out and traded for left tackle Branden Albert (Miami Dolphins). Obviously, that’s a big addition for the offensive line. In each of the previous two years, the team has used both free agency (Chris Ivory in ‘16) and the second round of the draft (T.J. Yeldon in 2015) to fix the ground attack.
The third time will prove to be the charm for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have signed and drafted their share of talent in recent offseasons only to see the years end in disappointment. Ultimately, Leonard Fournette will cure what ails this team on offense. And don’t be surprised if he winds up a frontrunner for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.